The Workers’ Compensation Act in South Carolina provides that if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if he/she suffered any permanent injury as a result of the work accident. The workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina can be complex, difficult to understand, and hard to navigate without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Under the current law, your employer and its insurance carrier has the right to select the doctor who will treat you. If you go to see your own doctor without permission of the employer/carrier, then then employer/carrier may not be responsible for paying for the the medical treatment, unless it constitutes an emergency condition. However, you have the right to choose a physician to evaluate you for the specific disability but typically it will not be paid for by the employer.
Once you suffer an injury on the job you should immediately report it to your supervisor. This should be the same day of the accident, if possible. Never, ever delay reporting the injury to your employer. You should also request that the employer provide appropriate medical treatment. In the event that medical treatment is not provided or not paid for, it would be best to consult with an attorney to determine your rights.
If the claim continues to be contested, or denied, your lawyer should file a Form 50 on your behalf with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a contested hearing. This sets out the various parties, the date and description of the accident, who you reported it to, the injuries suffered, whether medical treatment is needed, any disfigurement you may have received and any other relief you may be requesting.
The employer, unless self insured, is usually represented by an insurance company known as the carrier. The carrier files an answer on a Form 51, where they may admit or deny what you have said in your Form 50. The case is then placed on the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s docket, and assigned to an individual Commissioner who acts as a fact finder and also rules on the law. A hearing is usually held within three to five months, and at the hearing the employee presents his/her case. You should understand that the employer/carrier will always have an attorney defending the case. If the employer/carrier has an experienced lawyer, shouldn’t you?
Usually medical testimony is presented in the form of a deposition and your physician will not attend a hearing. The other medical evidence that the Commissioner will rely upon are the medical records you and the Carrier present.
Once a commissioner has ruled on the case, the Commissioner will issue an Opinion and Award which sets forth his/her ruling of fact and law, and what relief, if any, the employee gets. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision, the case can be appealed to the full Commission which is made up of all the Workers’ Compensation Commissioners except for the one who heard the case originally. After that hearing is held, if either party is dissatisfied with the decision, it can be appealed to the Circuit Court and on up to the South Carolina Supreme Court, depending on the procedural posture of the claim. You have 14 days from the date of the Order to file an appeal.
Fault or negligence is not an issue regarding the payment of a workers’ compensation claim unless, for example, the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury. Remember, if you are injured on the job, report the incident to your supervisor.
If you feel like you are not getting medical treatment or not being paid for being out of work, these are tell-tell signs that seeking legal assistance may be necessary. We are happy to discuss your claim with you to see if an attorney would be your best route to protect you. Call us today for an honest and confidential evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim. The number to the Goings Law Firm, LLC is 803-350-9230.
Do you need advise in negotiating your workers’ compensation settlement? Is the Insurance Company and the employer not being fair? A proposed new law in SC may help protect you!
A proposed new law introduced by S.C. House Representative Beth Bernstein has been filed to help protect injured workers when negotiating workers’ compensation settlements. S.C. House Bill 3352 is designed to prevent insurance companies or employers from demanding that injuries employee are required to release other legal claims, such as employment claims (such as ADA violations, sex, age, and gender discrimination, wage disputes) and other employment related disputes as a condition to resolving a workers’ compensation claim for a work related injury. The legislation would prohibit these tactics by employers and carrier, and any such negotiations on these terms would constitute “per se bad faith.” This would be a big win for employees because insurance companies or employers attempt to hold employees “over a barrel” when negotiating settlements, and often time conditioning any workers’ compensation settlement to a full release of any and all legal rights that the employee may have against the employer.
This bill is currently in committee and if passes committee, it may be voted on by the General Assembly this year. The language of the proposed legislation, S.C. House Bill 3352, states:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 17, Title 42 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
“Section 42-17-15. (A) A settlement agreement as to compensation between and employer and an injured employee or his dependents provided in Section 42-17-10 is void and unenforceable to the extent that the injured employee or his dependents agree to dismiss, release and forever discharge complaints, liabilities, obligations, promises, agreements, controversies, claims for attorney’s fees, damages, actions, causes of actions, suits, rights, demands, costs, losses, debts, and expenses, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which the injured employee or his dependents have, own, or hold against the employer up to the date of the release including, but not limited to:
(1) claims of unlawful employment discrimination arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000 et seq., the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1990, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, as amended, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as amended, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA);
(2) claims for disability and other forms of discrimination or harassment under applicable state or federal antidiscrimination and civil rights laws, claims for retaliation or discrimination under the workers’ compensation law, torts of any kind, including, but not limited to, misrepresentation, negligent or otherwise, fraud, defamation, liable, battery, assault, slander, claims for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with an advantageous business relationship, negligent hiring, negligent retention, interference with contractual relations, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, termination of employment in violation of public policy, breach of employment contract, expressed or implied, nonpayment of wages, overtime, bonus, or other compensation or benefits, or invasion of privacy;
(3) claims or rights under state and federal whistleblower legislation; and
(4) other claims, losses, injuries, or damages resulting from, arising out of, or connected directly or indirectly with the employment with the employer including, but not limited to, claims for damages, salary, wages, compensation, monetary relief, employment benefits including, but not limited to, any claims for benefits under an employee benefit plan or any retirement plan, profit sharing, capital stock, bonuses, merit and longevity increases, and all other benefits of any kind, earnings, back pay, front pay, liquidated and other damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, damages to character, damage to reputation, emotional distress, mental distress, depression, injury, impairment in locating employment, financial loss, home foreclosure, pain and suffering, being made whole, injunctive and declaratory relief, interest, or attorney’s fees and costs arising from the injured employee’s employment.
(B) The offer of a settlement agreement as to compensation that includes any of the prohibited dismissal, release, or discharge conditions enumerated in subsection (A) constitutes bad faith per se.”
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Do you need help negotiating a workers’ compensation settlement? We know how to help in order to make sure you receive all the compensation that you are entitled under the law. Don’t let the insurance company get over on you– hire an experienced lawyer who can help you today!
What happens if I can’t return to work?
A common question we get is “What happens if I cannot return to work due to my work injury.” The fear of not being able to return to work is a real concern if you have been involved in a work related injury. Often we counsel with people who have given their best years to an employer only to end up with a debilitating injury caused by their work. Like any hard working individual, they are concerned with their ability to recover and get back to work as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, many individuals suffer injuries so bad that they are no longer able to meet the work requirements of their job. Sometimes these injured workers are ill informed that their injury is limited to a recovery solely based on the injured body part. The insurance company, or its attorney, will try to hurriedly rush an injured worker into a settlement that neither represents the fully injured body part or takes into account their inability to return back to work. Many injured workers will reluctantly accept a quick settlement only to find out they don’t have a job to be able to return to and can’t support their family.
Fortunately, the South Carolina Workers Compensation Laws provide a mechanism where injured workers can receive an award to address their inability to return to their job instead of just the injured body part. To be eligible for wage loss the worker must be able to demonstrate they meet the necessary elements of a wage loss claim. If left to handle these complicated issues by themselves, injured workers may end up without the benefit of the law, or worse miss the requirements to be eligible for wage loss recovery. At the Goings Law Firm we routinely assist injured workers to determine if they may be eligible for a wage loss recovery. To determine if you need help with a workers’ compensation injury contact Attorney and Workers’ Compensation Managing Partner Christian E. Boesl with the Goings Law Firm. Let us help you get the medical treatment you deserve to back to work, or get the money you are entitled to receive if you are unable to return to your job.
The National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Prove that Hiring a Workers Compensation Attorney Is Important
Fatalities and serious workplace injuries are on a rise in the United States. Year after year, workplace deaths are increasing South Carolina. If a loved one has died at work, or you have suffered a serious on the job injury, it is important to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney so that you are fully protected under the laws of South Carolina. Without an attorney, the insurance company can take advantage of you and quickly deny benefits that the law affords you for medical treatment, pay while not at work, and disability payments for permanent injuries or death. The insurance company has a team of lawyers, so should you!
Based on the current National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries published by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016, a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See chart 1.) This is the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities and the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) since 2008. The fatal injury rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers from 3.4 in 2015, the highest rate since 2010. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf
Work injuries involving transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event in 2016, accounting for 40 percent (2,083). Violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 23 percent to become the second-most common fatal event in 2016. Two other events with large changes were exposure to harmful substances or environments, which rose 22 percent, and fires and explosions, which declined 27 percent.