If you have a Shoulder Injury from a on the job injury, listen to this short video to learn how the Goings Law Firm can help you get the benefits that you deserve under the South Carolina Workers Compensation laws. You need lawyer that you can trust. Call us today at 803-350-9230 for a free consultation.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you have workers compensation claim, you’ve wondered if you should hire a workers’ compensation attorney. This is a frequently asked question. This article is designed to help you understand when you should hire an attorney for your workers compensation claim.
First, you are not required to hire a lawyer. But, we strongly recommend you find a qualified injury attorney to represent you for your South Carolina workers compensation claim. The workers compensation laws are complex and full of pitfalls. To Quote Abraham Lincoln: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” We believe President Lincoln had it right.
The workers’ compensation hearing and appeals process is complicated, as you will have strict deadlines to follow and you will have to provide persuasive evidence in the manner required by the single commissioner, the commission panel or the state courts. The rules of procedure at each of these stages of appeal will vary, as will as the arguments that must be made and the types of evidence that must be presented.
Additionally, in South Carolina the employer and the insurance company will have their attorney to defend any workers compensation hearing. The lawyer for the employer or insurance company is not your attorney, and does not represent your best interests. The job of the insurance company’s attorney may be to deny your claim, provide minimal treatment, or to settle your case as cheap as possible. Only a workers compensation attorney for the injured worker can: (a) advocate to have your claim approved; (b) ensure all the necessary medical treatment is being provided; and (b) work to secure you the most compensation as possible for your injuries.
When to Hire a Lawyer for your S.C. Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The best advice is to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible after the injury. You will need a South Carolina lawyer if the injury occurred in South Carolina, if your job is located in South Carolina, or if you were hired in this state. You only have a short deadline to report your injury and to file a claim. An experienced workers compensation attorney will make sure the claim is filed correctly.
If you do not hire an attorney immediately after the injury, we recommend hiring a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer if you suffered any one of these type injuries:
- Back or Neck Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Knee Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Repetitive Stress Injuries
- Injuries involving pre-existing conditions
- Occupational Diseases (ex. chemical exposure)
- Impairment or loss of use to any body part
- You have a loss of earnings
- Death Benefits
We also recommend hiring a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer if any one of the following occurs:
- Your claim is denied
- A recorded or written statement is requested
- You are given work restrictions
- You are not able to meet your work restrictions
- The requested medical care is not approved
- The medical care is delayed or slow to be approved by the adjuster
- You are not allowed to consult with a medical specialist (ex. surgeon, or pain management)
- Your doctor or medical provider is not on your side
- Your weekly disability checks are late or not approved
- Your weekly disability check amount is incorrect or too low
- You are denied treatment other body parts (ex. your back begins to hurt after leg injury)
- A hearing is requested
- You are contacted by the insurance company’s lawyer
- The adjuster will not call you back
- You worry that you might lose your job
Why Hire Us for your South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The Goings Law Firm, LLC is focused on results. We are located in Columbia, several blocks from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Because of this, we routinely represent clients throughout the State of South Carolina.
We recognize that our reputation is earned by providing excellent service to one client at a time. Most of our clients are earned by referrals from former or existing clients, the best compliment any lawyer can receive. To read about what just a few clients have said about Robert F. Goings and Goings Law Firm, LLC, click here.
We are honest and dedicated to providing personalized attention to your injury claim. Many other law firms may have “high volume” practices that devote great time and resources to advertising or making unreasonable promises. At the Goings Law Firm, LLC we devote our efforts to representing you. We know you by your name, not by a number assigned to your case like some other firms. Your case will not be given a “file number” and your claim will not be assigned to a paralegal or legal staff. Robert F. Goings will personally handle your claim from start to finish. We have the resources and experience to take your claim to the highest court in South Carolina, if necessary. Before you hire a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney, please consider these 5 qualities that your attorney should possess.
We invite you to call this Columbia Workers’ Compensation law firm today at (803) 350-9230, or click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. There is no obligation or charge to see if we can help.
By: Robert F. Goings
Workers’ Compensation – Calculating your Compensation Rate and Average Weekly Wage
I am often asked by injured employees, “How is my compensation rate calculated?” The calculation of your compensation rate can have a significant impact on the total award of compensation that you may be entitled to receive under the law for an on-the-job injury.
The compensation rate for a workers’ compensation claim is calculated based on your average weekly wage. So, in order to answer this question, you first must ask another question, “How is my average weekly wage calculated?” Here is how…
In South Carolina, the compensation rate is 66 2/3% of the average weekly wage subject to the maximum and minimum compensation rates in effect on the date of injury. The compensation rate is set as of the date of injury and is not affected by later changes in the allowed maximum or by inflation. The benefits that you receive are not taxable.
A Form 20 is used to calculate an employee’s average weekly wage. The Form 20 is typically completed by the employer’s human resources or payroll department and forwarded to the insurance adjuster for approval. A Form 20 can be found on the SC WCC website here, http://www.wcc.sc.gov/welcomeandoverview/forms/Pages/default.aspx
So what does Average Weekly Wage mean? Average Weekly Wage, or AWW, means the earnings of the injured employee in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury during the period of fifty-two weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury. Average weekly wage is generally calculated by combining the total wages paid for the last four quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which the injury occurred as reported on the Employment Security Commission’s Employer Contribution Reports divided by fifty-two or the actual number of weeks for which wages were paid, whichever is less.
But how do you calculate AWW if you were employed for a short period of time or if the traditional method of calculating Average Weekly Wage is impractical? In those circumstances, South Carolina workers’ compensation laws allow evidence of similar wages of an employee of the same grade and character employed in the same class of employment in the same locality or community. If the foregoing method of calculation would be unfair to the employer or employee due to exceptional reasons (i.e. a significant increase in salary or significant raise), other methods may be employed to determine what the injured employee would be earning were it not for the injury. The South Carolina statute that governs the calculation of your AWW is S.C. Code Ann. § 42-1-40, which can be found at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t42c001.php. The overall intent of this provision is to ensure fair and just results for both the employer and the employee, designed compensate you for what you were earning if the injury did not occur.
Okay, but I have multiple jobs?
How do I calculate my average weekly wage and my compensation rate if I have more than one job?
What if the insurance carrier refuses to allow my wages from another employer?
Good news! Generally in South Carolina, if an employee works multiple jobs, the employee’s total wages from all employers may be combined to compute his average weekly wage under worker’s compensation law. The employee has the burden of proving wages earned from jobs other than the one where the accident occurred, for purposes of calculating average weekly wage. A good case that discusses this law is Steele v. Self Serve, Inc. 335 S.C. 323, 516 S.E.2d 674 (S.C. App. 1999), which can be found at http://law.justia.com/cases/south-carolina/court-of-appeals/1999/2980.html
If you believe that your compensation rate has been improperly calculated, or that you are being short-changed as a result of how your employer or the insurance company is calculating your compensation rate, please call today for a free consultation from an experienced Columbia Workers Compensation attorney.