Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Columbia Settling Your Case and Recovering Compensation for Your Painful Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries are disturbingly common, especially in occupational industries such as transportation, warehousing, and construction. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows these industries had the highest fatalities in South Carolina compared with other fields.
As more context, consider what the National Safety Council has to say about workplace injuries—a worker is injured every seven seconds on the job, resulting in:
- 540 work injuries per hour
- 12,900 work injuries per day
- 90,400 work injuries per week
- 7 million work injuries per year
The effect of a workplace injury is nearly instantaneous from multiple perspectives: financial, mental, and physical. Victims might be traumatized from the accident, fearful of returning to work, and face lost wages, surgery, possible rehabilitation, and medical debt.
Managing a workplace injury is an ordeal in and of itself. Imagine your surprise when your worker’s compensation claim is denied when you need to cover groceries, medical treatment, and other expenses as part of your everyday life and recovery.
Settling for a rejection of a worker’s compensation claim could mean a catastrophic financial situation for you and your family—and Lee Injury Law, LLC won’t let that happen. What could be a mountain for you to move is simply a speed bump for our team as we help victims of workplace accidents prove their cases, negotiate on their behalf, and settle their claims.
Get rid of your debt and recover the compensation you’re entitled to. Contact our experienced worker’s compensation lawyers today for a resolution: (803) 855-1012.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Columbia?
As an employee, you have rights if you get injured on company time. The Worker’s Compensation Act in South Carolina says that if an employee experiences injuries due to an accident during their employment, the individual is eligible to recover medical expenses and temporary compensation for any lost wages and permanent disability benefits in more severe cases where permanent injuries are involved.
Timing matters in this instance. You have 90 days from the time of your injury to inform your employer. Otherwise, you could lose your rights to workers’ compensation altogether.
Sometimes workplace accidents don’t cause immediate injury or can result in an illness or issue that surfaces down the road. Even in minor situations, it’s best to inform your supervisor immediately of any accidents and injuries. At the same time, it’s fresh, and the company can file a report and refer you to a preferred medical provider as part of their insurance plan.
Many questions regarding workers’ compensation in Columbia SC can be directed to your human resources team. However, an experienced attorney should address any pushback or denial of workers’ compensation to avoid prolonging your payout.
Call our experienced worker’s compensation lawyers with Lee Injury Law, LLC to better understand your rights: (803) 855-1012.
How Can You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Columbia?
Most injured employees have a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, nearly one-quarter of workplace injury claims filed in South Carolina are initially denied. Some of these denials are overturned upon appeal — often with the help of an experienced attorney. However, it’s important to know that failing to follow proper procedures is often the culprit when denials occur.
To avoid such a situation, it’s imperative that you follow the process set out by the state. We’ve already touched on the fact that you should immediately inform your employer. However, what comes next? The following steps will help you navigate filing a claim in a manner that reduces the risk of an unfair denial:
- After informing your employer, seek medical attention immediately. You should ask whether your employer has a preferred healthcare provider. Under South Carolina law, they have the right to choose specific providers. Opting to choose your own doctor could result in your bills not being paid.
- Submit a claim through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. You can do this by mailing in a form or submitting a claim online.
- Wait for a decision. The Workers’ Comp Commission says most compensation decisions are made within 5 to 10 days. You’ll need to wait for this decision before moving forward. If you’re approved, you’re set to receive benefits for your workplace injury.
- Appeal through the Commission if your claim is denied. You have 14 days to do this. Either the full commission or a panel will review the decision.
- Appeal through state courts if you’re unhappy with the final decision. This can be a complicated process, but it’s often the only way to get the benefits you deserve.
By following these steps, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance at a fair outcome. However, even going through all the motions does not guarantee you’ll receive compensation for your injuries. This is just one reason that speaking with a Columbia workers’ comp lawyer from the start can prove so beneficial.
At Lee Injury Law, LLC, we’ve seen the common issues that result in denials — and we’ve repeatedly helped appeal such denials successfully. And since you can get a free consultation with our law firm today, there’s no reason to not seek legal assistance. Contact us today and let us help.
What are the Most Common Workers’ Compensation Claims?
A workers’ compensation claim directly results from workplace accidents and injuries. Sometimes these incidents happen because of improper facility care, lack of safety protocols, or other negligent behavior on the part of business owners, property, or facility managers, to name a few.
There are many paths to injuries at work, though the six most common causes of workplace injuries include:
- Overexertion and fatigue on the job
- Bodily reaction
- Workplace slips, trips, and falls
- Messy, unkempt workspaces and environments
- Cutting corners
Another study from the National Safety Council shows the top three causes—overexertion, bodily reaction and slips, trips, and falls—are responsible for more than 75 percent of all nonfatal injuries and illnesses on the job site.
Employees who get injured on the job should take careful steps to avoid issues with a worker’s compensation claim. Within 24 hours of an injury, notify management immediately, fill out an injury and illness report, and note any unsafe working conditions that might have caused the injury and details of how the injury happened.
If you or a family member were injured at work and aren’t sure where to turn next, schedule a free consultation with Lee Injury Law, LLC, and speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide your next steps.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Traditional worker’s compensation insurance benefits employees—through an employer—who get injured, contract diseases, attract an illness or die from unfortunate circumstances on the job. Workers’ compensation policies cover disability benefits, lost wages, and death benefits and reduce any liability for work-related injuries and illnesses.
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (2022) has certified that the average weekly wage in the state for July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, was $963.37 for accidents on or after January 1, 2022.
According to state law, an injured worker may receive workers’ compensation for up to 500 weeks, with payments lasting a lifetime in situations involving permanent and total disability cases, paralysis, and total or permanent brain injury.
Regarding a possible settlement, your average weekly wage sets the dollar amount. It is based on your salaries for the last four quarters before you get injured at work, excluding the present quarter.
As workplace accidents are often unexpected, victims of incidents often face ongoing medical treatment, surgery, rehabilitation and therapy, mental health treatment, and more as part of the healing and recovery process. Lost wages can hurt a person and their family, as well as mounting medical debt and related expenses.
Experienced attorneys can handle any challenges in resolving your claim. Lee Injury Law Firm, LLC helps our clients manage debt and legal and financial difficulties related to workplace accidents while we work through the claims approval process.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Pre-existing Conditions?
Since injuries must occur during the course of a person’s employment, it would seem as if pre-existing conditions would not qualify for compensation. However, this isn’t always the case. If you have an injury that was aggravated during the course of your work, it’s possible that a workers’ compensation claim may be approved.
Unfortunately, receiving benefits in this situation is far more complex than usual. In most cases, this is because your employer or their insurance company are more likely to dispute such a claim. They’ll argue that your injury had nothing to do with your work, and they’ll likely say that the job could not have aggravated the condition.
While it’s always wise to have a workers’ compensation lawyer in Columbia on your side, it’s particularly vital in this situation. An experienced attorney understands what needs to be proven for a successful claim. Contact our law firm today to discuss your case and learn more about your options. Even with pre-existing conditions, compensation is possible.
Frequently Asked Questions for Workers’ Comp
It’s important to understand that every worker’s compensation claim is different. Two individuals could suffer the same injury at the same workplace, and there’s no guarantee they’ll receive the same outcome. This is why it’s so important to sit down for a free case review at Lee Injury Law, LLC. Interpreting the unique aspects of your case is imperative.
However, there are some common questions that remain true throughout every case. Understanding these answers can help you make informed decisions:
“Am I eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?”
In South Carolina, most employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are certain requirements that must be met. For instance, you must actually be an employee of the business. Volunteers, independent contractors, and other non-employees are not eligible for workers’ comp. However, they may have a valid claim for litigation.
The injury must also be work-related. Additionally, you must report the injury to your employer and seek medical attention. Simply being out of work due to an injury isn’t enough. If you want to be compensated for your lost time, visiting a physician is an absolute must. Only proven claims can be approved.
“Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Columbia?”
Many employees avoid filing a workers’ compensation claim because they’re concerned about possible retaliation. However, this is not something you should be worried about. There have long been federal laws on the books that protect employees from adverse employment decisions based on their practice of protected actions.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina is one of those protected actions. If you were demoted, transferred, terminated, had your hours reduced, or faced any other adverse decision after seeking compensation, your employer may have a much bigger issue to deal with. In fact, you might be entitled to far more than just workers’ comp at that point.
“Can I sue my employer for an injury on the job site?”
The entire workers’ compensation system is predicated on avoiding costly litigation. That’s why the fault isn’t typically considered when deciding whether a claim is compensable. As such, most employees will not be able to sue their employers for on-the-job injuries. However, there are some rare exceptions when litigation may be allowed.
For instance, intentional injuries inflicted on a worker can result in litigation. Additionally, employees injured at the workplace due to the actions of third parties (e.g., contractors, customers) may also have a valid lawsuit. Determining whether you have a legal claim can be complex, so reach out to our Columbia workers’ compensation lawyers today to discuss your case.
“What if my employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance?”
If a business regularly employs at least four workers in South Carolina, they’re typically required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, not everyone follows the rules. If you’re injured on the job and your employer doesn’t carry insurance, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. The SC Uninsured Employers Fund may still cover your losses.
“Can I receive workers’ comp for injuries sustained during my work commute?”
In most cases, employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation in South Carolina if injured during their commute. The legal reasoning is that employees are not technically being paid for this activity. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. They include:
- Injuries sustained while in a company vehicle
- Injured while performing a work-related errand
- Injuries result from hazardous routes getting to the worksite
- The injury occurred in close proximity to your job (e.g., parking lot, walkway)
As with most other issues in SC workers’ comp law, these matters can quickly become complex. Don’t risk a denial by trying to handle everything on your own. Let our Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys assist and fight to get every penny you deserve.
“Can I receive workers’ compensation in Columbia if injured during a break?”
Workers’ comp cases can become particularly complicated when injuries occur while on break. In most situations, accidents that occur during breaks are not compensable. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, an injury sustained while running a work errand during a lunch break could result in an approved claim.
Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation if you were hurt during a “working break.” Such situations typically arise when you’re essentially “on call” during lunch or kept on the clock during your break. Once again, these situations can become incredibly complex. This is why it’s in your best interest to speak with a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney.
When Do You Have to Return to Work?
Workers’ compensation is meant to provide benefits when a person is unable to work at full capacity. It is not meant to be a permanent situation. In fact, the maximum time allowed to receive workers’ comp benefits in South Carolina is typically 500 weeks. This timeline can be extended in rare situations, but this is typically only true for permanent injuries.
Employees will have to return to work when their physician says they’re able to. In some cases, a doctor may approve someone for “light duty” work if it’s available. If this is done at a lower pay rate than the worker originally received, workers’ comp will typically make up the difference. However, it’s likely that a physician will eventually give the green light for a full-duty return.
However, there are times when this might not be appropriate. Perhaps you honestly attempt to return to work, but your duties are simply too much. It’s important that you don’t continue working in this situation — as any further exertion could exacerbate your original injury and end up keeping you out of work for longer.
If you discover that you cannot return to work as advised by the doctor, it’s okay to request a reevaluation. You could also seek out a second opinion. However, keep in mind that weight is often given to the initial assessment. As such, it’s wise to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Columbia to figure out your options and how best to move forward.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Workplace Accident?
When someone is injured on the job, they’re not always the only ones affected. In many cases, an important source of income is lost for an entire family. Fortunately, this is only temporary in most situations. However, there are instances where on-the-job injuries result in death. In fact, workplace injury deaths have increased in recent years in South Carolina.
If you’ve lost a loved one in such an accident, it’s important to know that you have options. In most cases, you’ll be eligible for SC workers’ compensation death benefits. However, there are a variety of rules that can affect whether you’re eligible for benefits and just how much you qualify for. First, you must have been financially dependent on your loved one.
In most cases, this means that spouses, children, and certain other relatives may seek workers’ comp death benefits after losing a family member. However, it’s worth noting that these cases are often more complicated than traditional workers’ comp claims. This is often due to the fact that compensation is frequently substantial in these cases.
For instance, workers’ comp in South Carolina can pay up to $12,000 in burial and funeral benefits. This large sum is just the tip of the iceberg since it doesn’t even take lost wages into account. Typically, dependents are entitled to two-thirds of their loved one’s wages — and this can be paid for up to 500 weeks.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to a workplace injury, though, it’s ideal to speak with an attorney before doing anything. In some cases, you may be entitled to more than just workers’ comp. In fact, a Columbia wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you secure a much larger court award or settlement if certain requirements are met. Contact our law firm today to learn more.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me if I Get Hurt?
You might need to call a worker’s compensation lawyer if you get hurt at work and your employer denies your worker’s compensation claim. Companies follow a specific protocol by South Carolina law regarding workers’ compensation claims, though there are many reasons a claim could be rejected. Many people don’t know the “why” behind it until they’ve been injured and go through the claims process.
This is because injuries aren’t always cut and dry; when a worker’s compensation claim is denied, it’s important to find an experienced attorney to investigate and handle the pushback with appropriate legal recourse. Reasons for possible claim denial include:
- Missed deadlines
- Off-the-job injuries that led to your workplace injury
- Misclassification of your role to avoid workers’ compensation by an employer—a common tactic in the construction industry
- Improper behavior (on your part) on the job that caused the injury
- Lack of proof of injury
When accidents happen at work and you can’t get the coverage you need through workers’ compensation, increase your chances of appealing your claim when you contact Lee Injury Law, LLC. Speak with any of our attorneys today and find out if you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Columbia Today
Nearly two-thirds of employees are not being paid enough to keep up with inflation. Clearly, it’s often hard to make ends meet even when you are working. If you’re injured on the job, however, your ability to earn can be greatly impaired. Workers’ compensation benefits were created to assist in these exact circumstances, but far too often, applicants are wrongfully denied.
At Lee Injury Law, LLC, our law firm strives to ensure this doesn’t happen. We know how quickly an injury can disrupt financial stability, and we’ve seen far too many people wrongfully denied the benefits they deserve. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact us today by calling (803) 855-1012 to schedule your free consultation.
Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Columbia are ready to assist.