Workers' Compensation Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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When you get injured on the job, it can be a life-altering event. All of a sudden, you have uncertainties about your future. You're scared and hurt, and now you have to worry about how you will make ends meet while you can't work. While the bills pile up, you're not certain where to turn.
South Carolina workers' compensation should provide you with the help you need while you heal and can return to work. At Morgan and Morgan, we understand all the pressure you're under and the pain you have to live with now. For over 30 years, our workers' compensation lawyers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have provided compassionate, dedicated, and timely legal representation to injured workers.
We understand that while there are many reputable employers in Myrtle Beach, sometimes workers will have a dispute with their employer or the insurance company that provides its workers' compensation coverage. Insurance companies frequently deny coverage for many reasons, making it an uphill battle to get the compensation you deserve. Plus, they have powerful attorneys working on their side, which puts you at a disadvantage. With the help of our workers' compensation lawyers, we can make things right.
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How Does Workers' Compensation Work in South Carolina?
Every state has its own workers' compensation regulations. In South Carolina, it's regulated by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (WWC). Employers must carry workers' compensation coverage except for sole proprietors, members of a limited liability company (LLC), and independent contractors. The policies are meant to cover medical bills and lost wages equal to two-thirds of an employee's average weekly wage while the employee is recovering and unable to work.
Once an employee accepts workers' compensation benefits, they are unable to sue the employer for their injuries under the exclusive remedy provision. When workers in South Carolina are injured on the job, they must visit an approved health provider their employer or insurer chooses. Workers' compensation benefits include:
- Medical benefits that cover the expenses for treatment of the worker's injury or illness
- Temporary or permanent disability benefits
- Partial or total disability benefits
- Compensation for disfigurement
- Reimbursement for traveling expenses related to medical care
- Death benefits for the family of the deceased for fatal work accidents
If a Myrtle Beach employee dies from a work accident or illness, the family's death benefits may include weekly compensation and payment for the funeral and burial expenses. Usually, the deceased dependents can receive up to $2500 for funeral and burial expenses plus two-thirds of the deceased worker's average weekly pay for 500 weeks after the date of the injury. However, if the deceased were receiving workers' compensation before their death, this may reduce the amount the dependents can receive.
Who Can Collect Workers' Compensation Death Benefits?
When a worker dies from a work-related accident or illness, dependants who can collect workers' compensation death benefits may include:
- A spouse
- Minor children
- Adult children who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves
- Adult children up to 23 years old who are full-time students
- Dependant stepchildren
- Dependant illegitimate children
What Is South Carolina's Statute of Limitations for Workers' Compensation Claims?
Every state has statutes of limitations which are deadlines for filing legal claims. In South Carolina, injured workers must file a workers' compensation claim with the WCC within two years. You should notify your employer as quickly as possible when you're injured at work. Even so, you have up to 90 days to inform them. Once the deadlines pass, you lose your ability to collect workers' compensation.
How Do Workers' Compensation Settlements Work in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, there are two forms of workers' compensation settlements which are as follows:
Agreement and final release - This type of settlement may be paid out in a lump sum or a structured settlement. A structured settlement would be guaranteed monthly payment for a specific amount of time. This agreement is essentially a legally enforceable agreement that releases the employer and insurer from any further liability regarding your injury, even if your injury or illness worsens over time or if you need additional medical care.
Form 16A settlement - When a worker is permanently disabled from an on-the-job injury, they may be entitled to a weekly payment based on their prior average weekly wage from employment. This settlement is different from the aforementioned agreement and final release because the worker can seek additional compensation if their injury worsens or they need further medical care within one year of the final payment.
When faced with decisions that could impact your ability to pay medical bills and cover household and living expenses, our workers' compensation lawyers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, can provide you with the legal guidance you need to make the right decision for you and your family.
When Can You Sue an Employer for an On-the-job Injury in South Carolina?
South Carolina's Workers' Compensation Act is essentially a bargain between employers and employees, meaning workers don't have to prove the employer was negligent regarding their injury in exchange for medical and wage benefits. With that agreement, employees may not sue their employer except under very specific circumstances. These are:
- When there is an intentional act by the employer that led to the employee's injuries
- When a subcontractor causes the injury, and the subcontractor is not the injured individual's direct employer
- When the injury is slander and the injury is to an individual's reputation
- When the Workers' Compensation Act excludes certain occupations
The law regarding intentional acts is exceedingly complex. From a legal standpoint, a nonaccidental act doesn't cover injuries caused by the employer's willful, reckless, or grossly negligent actions. When it comes to workers' compensation law, it seems to offer employer's a higher standard of protection from lawsuits than not. However, that doesn't mean that a negligent employer cannot be challenged in court if the circumstances are right.
What Should I Do After an On-the-job Injury?
When you are injured at work, you should immediately report it to your direct supervisor and submit it in writing too. A written report is evidence that establishes when and what happened. If you only verbally inform your supervisor, be sure to keep note of any witnesses. South Carolina law requires notification of workplace injury within 90 days. This is the first step in the workers' compensation process.
Your supervisor or employer should offer you a claim form without delay because, without this claim form, your employer is not required to provide you with benefits. If they do not, contact the state's WWC to fill out a Form 50 (workplace injury claim.)
Next, you should request to get medical treatment immediately. You must go to your employer's chosen medical provider under South Carolina law, or you can go to your own doctor if you receive permission. If you are allowed to go to a doctor of your choosing, get permission in writing to avoid any issues later. Medical care should be 100% covered by your employer's workers' compensation insurance.
When you see the doctor, make sure to be very detailed about your injury and let them know you were injured on the job. Be sure to communicate every pain, even if you think it's minor. Some injuries, such as internal bleeding or head injuries, take a while to fully manifest. All of this will go on your medical records, which will be a vital piece of evidence should you need to challenge any findings concerning your claim. Get copies of everything pertaining to your visit, including work restrictions, so that you can give them to your employer and their insurance carrier. Keep an extra set of copies for your own records. If you develop any medical issues after your visit, contact the physician again and let them know what's happening, so it's also included in your medical records.
Depending on your injuries, you may get released to full, light, or no duty. Still, you should have the doctor's opinion in writing regarding your ability to perform your job. The doctor should also give you written notice of further appointments, treatment, and medications. However, if you're referred to another doctor, don't automatically assume they are authorized. Talk to your employer before visiting another medical provider.
Unfortunately, when it comes to receiving workers' compensation medical benefits, you lose some aspects of medical privacy. With prior notice, your doctor will discuss your diagnosis, causation, treatment, prognosis, disability, and medical history as related to the workplace injury as required. Some of the agents that may be privy to this information are your employer, their insurance company and attorneys, a nurse care manager (if assigned), and the Workers' Compensation Commission.
When Do I Start Receiving Wage Benefits?
Suppose a doctor concludes that your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to your duties. In that case, you should begin to receive wage benefits on the 8th calendar day following your injuries. If you are unable to work for more than 14 days, you will get compensation from the 1st day you were injured. You should receive payments either by mail or by direct deposit if available.
Suppose your doctor decides you are able to work in a limited capacity that would cause you to make less than what you made pre-injury. In that case, you may be eligible to get temporary partial compensation. The same benefit schedule applies, and you should receive temporary partial compensation that makes up a percentage of the difference. If your doctor releases you to light-duty and the employer offers you light-duty work, you must accept it to continue receiving benefits. However, if you feel you cannot work, you have a right to a hearing. Benefits should continue until your doctor releases you without restrictions. Again, if you feel you cannot return to work, you have a right to a hearing.
When Should I File for a Hearing?
Suppose your employer does not report your claim, or your claim gets denied, or you are not getting all the benefits you believe you should be entitled to receive. In that case, you can request a hearing with the Commission's Judicial Department. When you feel like you're being unfairly treated, it's crucial to have legal representation. Morgan and Morgan's workers' compensation lawyers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are here to help. We can work with you to demonstrate why you should receive benefits and argue your case before the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Judicial Judge.
Our services are free unless we win, so you have nothing to lose if you're having issues collecting workers' compensation benefits. We believe in protecting the rights of injured Myrtle Beach workers and have the skills and experience to provide you with an advantage when going through the workers' compensation claim process. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.