Workers' Compensation Attorney in Greenwood, South Carolina
If you’ve been injured at work and are seeking workers’ compensation, you should know that the process can come with many pitfalls. However, we at Powers Law, LLC can help you through every step in the process, from filing a claim to dealing with insurers. If you require a skilled workers’ compensation attorney in South Carolina, call us today for support. Our attorney Michelle Powers uses her previous experience as an ER nurse to advocate on her clients’ side, with the goal to get them the compensation they deserve.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina
Workers’ compensation is a system used by each state to cover the costs of workplace injuries. Workers can file claims and receive benefits that cover medical treatment and lost wages; in return, workers cannot sue their employers for these costs.
Which employees are covered?
To receive workers’ compensation insurance, you must be an employee working for an employer who has the insurance. Most employers are required to carry this insurance, but certain professions—such as domestic workers, agricultural workers, real estate agents, taxi drivers, and more—may not be covered.
Which injuries are covered?
In South Carolina, you must simply be able to prove that your injury was work-related. (Occupational disease, or a disease arising from the conditions of your employment, is also covered.) You can be covered if you are required to drive off the company premises for work-related business. However, you cannot have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury.
Hold Your Employer Accountable
Filing a Claim
The workers’ compensation claim process can be lengthy and tricky. A professional attorney can help you gather evidence to back up your claim (such as witness testimony and security footage) and will know how to speak to insurers and represent you at hearings. However, here are your first steps:
Seek medical attention. No matter what, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention; be sure to tell the medical provider that your injury was work-related so that your medical records reflect this.
Report the injury. Next, you must report your injury to your employer. You should do this—in writing—as soon as possible. In South Carolina, you could be denied compensation if you do not report your injury within 90 days.
File for workers’ compensation. Your employer should then give you the required workers’ compensation claim form. You have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim. If you are required to attend a medical exam to solidify your claim, be sure to attend and describe how your injury has impacted your daily life.
Prove the injury was work-related. In order for your claim to be successful, you must prove that the injury was work-related and occurred on the job. It doesn’t matter who was at fault for the injury. Even if you (and not your employer) made a mistake that led to your injury, you can file a claim as long as you were not committing a crime, committing fraud, or under the influence of alcohol.
Contact an attorney. Since the insurer’s job is to minimize costs on their end, it can be difficult to get the full amount of compensation you deserve if your injury was unwitnessed or if you wait too long to file a claim. For this reason, you should enlist the help of a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you gather other evidence, and you should always be mindful of the time limits for reporting an injury and filing a claim.
In addition, you should also make sure that the reports you give to your medical provider, your employer, and the insurers are consistent. Finally, you should always consult an attorney before making any kind of statement to an insurer.
Benefits Available in South Carolina
Several different benefits are available depending on the type and duration of your injury. The types of benefits you may receive include temporary benefits, permanent benefits, and others.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits: These benefits cover lost wages if you can’t work while you are recovering from your injury. You are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, with a minimum of $75 a week (unless you earned less before your injury), up to the legal maximum of $1,035 (as of January 1, 2023). You will earn these benefits until your doctor clears you for work, or until your doctor has deemed that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning that your condition is stable but not likely to improve.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: These benefits attempt to bridge the gap between what you were earning before your injury and what you can earn now. These benefits are helpful if you can return to work but you cannot meet the full requirements of the job (for example, if you are not able to lift as much as usual or if you are not able to work as many hours). You are entitled to two-thirds of the difference between the amount you earned pre-injury and what you can presently earn, up to the legal maximum of $1,035. The 340-week clock begins when you receive partial disability benefits, even if you were previously receiving temporary total disability benefits.
These benefits can be claimed once you reach MMI if your doctor has determined that you have received a permanent disability.
Permanent Total Disability: Usually you are deemed permanently totally disabled if you lose the vision in both of your eyes or if you lose both of your hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, or hips (or a combination of two of the above). These benefits are paid using the same rate as temporary total disability benefits, with a duration of 500 weeks to life depending on your injuries.
Permanent Partial Disability: These benefits cover lost wages if you have lost, or lost use of, a part of your body. The benefits are paid out using the same rate as temporary total disability and permanent total disability. The maximum durations vary depending on the injuries.
Partial or Total Permanent Disability Based on Lost Wages: If you’ve lost the use of more than one body part, you can choose to collect benefits either based on a schedule of your injuries or based on lost wages—whichever model would award you the most compensation. Your attorney will be able to advise you on which model would be best for you.
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation offers medical benefits that cover medical treatment for work-related injuries and diseases. Death benefits are also paid to the family of a worker who died due to work-related injury or disease, at the same rate as for total disability. The duration of these benefits is 500 weeks. The family would also receive $12,000 for funeral expenses.
Appealing a Decision
If your workers’ comp claim is denied, you’ll want to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to help you navigate the appeal process
As part of the process, you may need to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME) by a doctor chosen by the insurer. A workers’ comp judge may also order you to attend a mediation or settlement conference, during which a neutral third party will try to facilitate an agreement between you and the insurer.
If your claim is still unsettled, the judge will schedule a workers’ comp hearing. Having a workers’ compensation attorney may make the process easier, as they can present evidence, witnesses, and medical records to the judge and answer the arguments of the insurance company’s lawyer.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Greenwood,
With extensive medical knowledge and experience, our attorney Michelle Powers can further support you in seeking compensation for workplace injuries in South Carolina. Call us at Powers Law, LLC, serving Greenwood, South Carolina as well as areas throughout upstate South Carolina including Saluda, Edgefield, McCormick, Abbeville, Laurens, and Newberry.