Workers Comp Attorneys in Columbia, SC
Have you or someone you know been injured while working in Columbia, South Carolina? A worker in the United States is injured on the job every seven seconds, according to the National Safety Council. In 2017, there were over two million reports of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Filing a worker’s compensation claim can be confusing. An experienced workers comp lawyer can help navigate through the issues and questions that will arise.
Workers Compensation Statistics
- Every hour in the U.S., there are 510 workers injured on the job. That would be 12,600 reports in a day and a total of 88,500 a week.
- In 2017, the National Safety Council reported these injuries and illnesses resulted in 104,000,000 production days being lost.
- Overexertion from repetitive motions and the action of lifting and lowering accounted for almost 34 percent of workplace injuries that resulted in a loss of workdays. These were the most common injury reported, according to the National Safety Council, with contact with objects and equipment and slips, trips, and falls coming in second and third at roughly 25 percent.
- The occupation with the highest number of workplace injuries was service industry workers – firefighters, police officers, and other first responders. Other fields seeing high numbers of injuries include transportation/shipping, manufacturing/production; installation, maintenance, and repair; and the construction industry.
- In 2017, there were 4,414 preventable work deaths. This was after three years of increasing in number. In addition to this, there were 733 homicides and suicides in the workplace that year.
- In 2018, the construction industry experienced its most significant number of fatal injuries, followed by transportation and warehousing.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were over 32,000 workplace injury cases in 2016 in South Carolina. Of those, over 18,000 missed days away from work, and almost 10,000 involved a job transfer or restriction.
Overview of How Workers’ Compensation Works in South Carolina
The South Carolina Bar provides workers and employers with a brief overview of the workers’ compensation process:
- The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act entitles individuals who suffer injuries arising out of and in the course of their employment to recover medical expenses, compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits in the event the employee suffered any permanent injuries.
- In South Carolina, your employer has the right to select the treating physician and facility for your medical care. While some people prefer to see their doctor, the employer may not be liable to pay those medical expenses. This does not preclude an employee from seeing their doctor, but the employee will likely pay the costs.
- An on-the-job injury must be reported immediately to a supervisor. At the same time, it is important to request that all appropriate medical treatment be covered. You have the right to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as the injury is reported.
- If the claim is denied with no foreseeable resolution, you or your attorney can file a Form 50 with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This will start the process of filing a claim and communicating with the employer or their insurance company.
- The employer or insurance company will then answer the claims in the Form 50, and a hearing will be held before a Commissioner. It can take anywhere from three to five months for the hearing to be scheduled where the employee can present their case.
- The Commission will issue an Opinion and Award setting forth their ruling of fact and law and what relief the employee gets. The decision can be appealed in the event a party is dissatisfied with the result. At that point, another hearing will be held before the other Workers’ Compensation Commissioners. After this Order is issued, a party has 14 days to appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Common Workplace Injuries and Accidents That Result in Claims
Many injuries can occur in the workplace. Depending on the industry you work in, there could be severe or even life-threatening injuries. The most common injuries we have seen with our workers’ compensation clients include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition affects the hand and wrist. Working with vibrating tools or prolonged and repetitive flexing may create harmful pressure on the median nerve. Several studies have evaluated the association between computer use and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Head injuries: These types of injuries are commonly caused by employees coming into contact with objects in the workplace. Objects could include equipment, debris, or falling from a structure and hitting the ground. The objects can strike employees on the head and cause serious injuries and is one of the most common ways for an injury to occur.
- Back and neck injuries: Many professions can put significant demands on your back, making it hard to concentrate on your job. Exerting too much force by lifting or moving heavy objects, repeating precise movements, or an inactive job at a desk can contribute to back pain. Some injuries may include herniated discs or spinal cord injuries that can be life-altering or even cause death.
- Shoulder injuries: These injuries are most common in jobs that require heavy lifting or moving, but they can also occur in office settings. Typically, these types of injuries may not appear on an X-ray, and it is important to relay all of your symptoms of the injury to your doctor for the most accurate diagnosis and treatment.
- Hip or leg injuries: Falls can happen anywhere, but workplace falls have become a cause for a workers’ compensation claim. Hip and leg injuries typically occur because of a fall or objects falling on your legs. Sometimes the job will require awkwardly rotating your legs.
- Catastrophic injuries: These injuries are usually entitled to compensation for total disability. As defined by state law, the loss of both hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, or vision in both eyes, or any two thereof, constitutes total and permanent disability. Compensation for these types of injuries are not limited to the five-hundred-week limitation for payment and entitles an injured person to lifetime benefits.
- Workplace deaths: In 2018, SCOSHA reported there were 898 total fatal injuries in the workplace. The State Accident Fund explains that these deaths allow for a benefit payment equal to 500 weeks based on the compensation rate prescribed by S.C. law. You can also receive burial expenses up to $2,500. These benefits are exempt from creditor claims and all estate taxes. A claim to receive death benefits must be filed with the Commission within two (2) years of the employee’s death.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers Compensation
Q: Do I have to hire Columbia Workers Comp Lawyer in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits?
A: There is no rule stating that an attorney must represent you. However, as with many injury claims, having an experienced lawyer working on your behalf can significantly assist you with understanding the process and obtaining the best result in your case. A Columbia Workers Comp Lawyer would also be able to prevent any mistakes in filing your lawsuit or having additional costs that could result in having your claim denied.
Q: How do I report an on-the-job injury?
A: All injuries and requests for medical treatment must be reported to your employer immediately. You have 90 days to report your injury from the date of the accident, or you may lose your benefits. Although you only have 90 days in which to report your injury, you have up to two years to file a claim for benefits with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Q: How do I file a claim?
A: You can file a claim if your employer does not report the accident, denies your injury, or if you believe you did not receive all of your benefits. To file a claim, you must submit a Form 50 or Form 52 to the Commission. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in filing the correct forms and marking the appropriate boxes.
Q: How is the compensation rate determined?
A: You are entitled to compensation at a rate of 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage based on the four quarters prior to your injury. You can not receive more than the maximum average weekly wage determined each year by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. Any jobs you are working at the time of the accident may be included as part of the wage and compensation rate.
Q: Will I get compensated for missing time from work?
A: There is a seven-day waiting period before any benefits can be paid. If you are out of work for more than seven days, the payments will come from your employer’s insurance company. If this exceeds 14 days, you will receive compensation for the first seven days as well. Payments will be made directly to you and will continue until a doctor releases you to return to work.
Q: What if the doctor releases me to light duty?
A: If a doctor releases you to light duty, you must accept. If you do not, any compensation you receive may cease for as long as you refuse to return to work. If you feel you are unable to do the work assigned to you, you have the right to request a hearing. In the alternative, if you return to light work at a wage less than you were earning prior to the time of the original injury and before a doctor discharges you, you are entitled to compensation at the rate of 66 2/3 percent of the difference between your average weekly wage and your new wage.
Q: Do I get reimbursed for my travel expenses when I go to the doctor?
A: You can be reimbursed for travel for doctor’s appointments if the round-trip travel is more than ten miles from your home. As of August 23, 2004, the Commission also approved allowance for trips to the pharmacy if the round-trip distance is more than ten miles from your home. The mileage rate is the allowable rate for state employees for mileage.
Contact Our Work-Related Injury Lawyers Today
If you have been injured on the job in Columbia, you likely have many questions about this process. While South Carolina law provides the avenues for compensation for workplace injuries, the process of filing for the benefits can be complicated and confusing for employees. The experience of a workers comp lawyer can help you navigate through the deadlines and denials in these claims. Let the Strom Law Firm and Pete Strom focus on the benefits, lost wages, and payment of your medical expenses so you can focus on a full recovery and getting back to work.
If you have questions or concerns about your workers’ compensation claim, call the Strom Law Firm at (803) 252-4800 to schedule a free consultation and case review.