South Carolina Workers’ Comp Process

Nearly three million people in the United States get injured or become sick each year as a result of their job. If this happens to you or someone you care about, workers’ compensation can help. This includes medical expenses as well as day-to-day expenses while you heal. Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable to speak to a doctor.

While this program is in place to help injured workers, the filing process can sometimes be complicated and deadlines need to be met or you could lose your right to benefits. That’s why a good workers’ compensation lawyer, like the attorneys at Samuel Law Firm, is essential. We’ll handle all of the details, paperwork and filings for your case. We will keep you up to date at every stage along the way, from the minute you hire us to when we deliver you a settlement check.

The Workers’ Compensation Process

Should you get injured at work, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. While most employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance, the process is not automatic. You need to apply for benefits. After your health has been attended to, follow these steps:

  1. WORK RELATED INJURY TAKES PLACE

    Sometimes an injury is obvious. You fall, burn yourself, or feel sudden sharp pain when lifting. Other times it’s not so simple. Maybe you wake up in pain after a day’s work, or feel pain at the end of the day after unloading a truck or some other physical task. It’s best to assume the worst and report the accident – even if it later turns out to be minor.

  2. NOTIFY EMPLOYER IMMEDIATELY

    If you become hurt at work or develop a work-related illness, report your condition to your employer as soon as possible, preferably in writing. List every part of your body that hurts. You must report your accident within 90 days, or you can forfeit your right to compensation. The sooner your report, the better.

  3. ASK YOUR EMPLOYER TO SEND YOU TO THE DOCTOR

    Visit the doctor your employer designates as quickly as possible. Follow any directions that you receive from the doctor provided by your employer regarding the treatment of your injury. Keep a record of the incident, medical records, and your treatment to show that your injury was properly reported and managed.

  4. EMPLOYER REPORTS INJURY AND FILES A CLAIM

    Your employer is required to immediately notify their insurer of the injury. At this stage, it is important to remember to not share any medical records with the insurance company or sign any forms, other than an accident report. Many times, especially if the injury is minor, your employer may delay reporting which may delay treatment and benefits.

  5. CONTACT A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYER

    If you’re hurt at work, you may be wondering if you should hire a workers’ compensation attorney. It is always best to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. You may not need a lawyer, but if you do, getting early advice is always in your best interest. Here are a few specific situations where a lawyer’s help can be vital:

    Your employer does not file the workers’ comp claim or report it to their insurance company
    Your employer has no workers’ compensation insurance or refuses to cover you because they say you are an independent contractor
    Your employer or insurance company denies your claim, or refuses medical treatment
    Your benefit payments are late or not for the proper amounts
    Your prescriptions are not being approved
    They deny or delay medical treatment and testing
    The insurance company won’t take your calls or return your messages
    Your injury will require medical attention in the future
    Your employer fires or otherwise retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim
    Your injuries prevent you from returning to work
    You are asked to sign certain forms or receive a notice of a hearing
  6. WORK WITH YOUR LAWYER AND PARALEGAL

    Now that you have a lawyer, what happens next?

     

    At your first meeting, bring any paperwork you have. This would be any accident reports, medical records, paycheck stubs, and letters or correspondence from the insurance company. If you don’t have anything, that is okay, we can get what we need.

     

    Be prepared to tell us about yourself and what happened. We will listen and put together an individualized game plan just for you. We will get your medical records, your personnel file and any other important documents. We will file your claim. Your lawyer may visit with your doctors and even send you for a second opinion if that is what you need.

     

    At some point, we may need to go to a hearing to make sure you receive full benefits. Don’t worry – Stephen Samuels has tried hundreds of cases.

     

    Most of all, feel free to call us whenever you have a question or need something. Your lawyer and paralegal work for you. You are not bothering us when you call. And remember, we also talk to the insurance company for you. You no longer have to worry about not being able to reach the adjuster on the phone or not getting return phone calls.

     

    Samuels Law Firm, located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, strives to help injured workers and personal injury victims through each unique situation. We are good people who will take good care of you.

  7. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM MY CASE?

    Now, this is a complicated question! Workers’ compensation is complicated. Your case can go on for a long time – depending on how badly you are injured, how long you are under doctor’s care, and how complicated the legal issues are.

     

    If your case is denied, our first step is getting your case covered under workers’ compensation. Cases are denied for all kinds of reasons. It may be that your employer has no workers’ compensation insurance. Or they misclassify you as an independent contractor instead of an employee. They may deny your accident ever happened, or the company doctor may not believe you were injured. They may say you did not report it soon enough, or no one saw it happen. Or perhaps they will say you had a preexisting condition or got hurt away from work. They may accuse you of using drugs or being intoxicated. They may even say it is your fault or fire you for getting hurt.

     

    No matter the reason, we are prepared to deal with it. If you have a legitimate claim, we will take every step we can to help you receive compensation.

     

    If your claim is accepted, you are entitled to certain benefits under the workers’ compensation law.  You should receive at no cost to you. There are no deductibles, copays or out of pocket expenses – everything should be covered including mileage or transportation to and from the doctor. Under South Carolina law, the insurance company selects your doctor. You have to accept the doctor and any treatment. If you refuse or miss appointments, you can lose your benefits. If the insurance company is not treating all your injuries or not providing treatment in a timely manner, we can address these problems for you. We may – sometimes – even be able to get you to a different doctor.

     

    While under medical care, if your doctor writes you out of work, you are entitled to weekly payments called Temporary Total Disability (we call it TTD for short). You have to be out of work for at least a week before payments begin. The payments are supposed to be 2/3 of your normal paycheck (before taxes and other deductions). It is pretty common for them to underpay people, Insurance companies are also notorious for not sending the TTD checks on time or even cutting people off for no legitimate reasons. You have right to timely payments, so we are available to help if they are late or don’t come at all.

     

    If your doctor puts you on light duty, then your employer has a choice.  They can offer you work within your restrictions or, if not available, they must continue paying you TTD.  Sometimes employers put you to work on regular duty or even try to make you do community service.  If this happens, your lawyer will guide you on how to handle this to make sure your benefits continue.

     

    Once your doctor releases you at maximum medical improvement (MMI), you may receive additional compensation for your permanent injury.  How your compensation is determined is specific to each individual, taking into account your impairment ratings, permanent work restrictions, and other factors such as your ability to return to work in another career if you cannot return to your original job.  Your lawyer will be working during your entire case to make sure you receive the maximum possible compensation under the law.  For this reason (and many others), it is best to retain a lawyer early in the case.

     

    If you or someone you care about has been injured at work, we want to help. So, call us today at (803) 779-4000 to schedule a free consultation.

     

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The Samuels Law Firm, located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, strives to help injured workers and victims of personal injury through each unique situation. We pride ourselves on our firms warm, friendly and caring atmosphere.

If you or someone you care about has been injured at work, we want to help. So, call us today at (803) 779-4000 to schedule a free consultation. In most cases, you won’t owe us anything until we collect a settlement on your behalf. Our workers’ compensation lawyer is ready to stand for you.

Great people willing to help you get the peace of mind that you need!

- MARIO CRUZ
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