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Where Can I Find the Best Workers' Compensation Lawyer in Charleston, SC?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 of every 100 workers suffered a workplace injury in 2019. While not all injuries are life-threatening, accidents that happen on the job can be debilitating and certainly traumatizing.
If you live in the Charleston, South Carolina area and have been injured at work, you may be eligible to receive worker’s compensation insurance benefits. In this guide, we’ll explore what workers’ compensation, or workers’ comp, covers, and whether your injury may qualify you for payments.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation
Employers in South Carolina must abide by specific laws regarding the safety of their workers. Under this set of laws falls workers’ compensation, which is an insurance benefit that protects you financially if you’re injured at work.
In the Palmetto State, employers of four or more workers are required to cover employees with workers’ compensation insurance. There are some exceptions, such as for agricultural workers or independent contractors. Generally speaking, however, the majority of employed people in the state are covered.
Workers’ compensation is designed to reimburse injured workers in a number of ways. Benefit eligibility and coverage varies slightly from state to state, but in the state of South Carolina, the insurance covers:
- Wages lost due to injury or accident
- Legal expenses incurred when filing a lawsuit against an employer
- Expenses related to death, including payments to family members
- Medical costs, including long-term in some cases
Every accident and workplace injury is unique, and the above are meant to be mere guidelines for determining compensation and eligibility. If you’ve been injured at work, it’s best to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to assist in establishing whether you’re entitled to workers’ compensation.
How Do I Apply for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
As with most types of insurance, filing a claim involves paperwork! An attorney can help guide you through the process of filing for workers’ compensation most efficiently. However, the moment you’re injured on the job you should first notify your employer. It’s essential that you do so to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Both you and your employer will have forms to complete, and this should be done as soon after your accident as possible.
Your employer should give you a Form 50 or a Form 52. These forms will ask you to provide basic information, such as:
- Where and how the accident occurred
- The exact nature of the workplace injury
- How you are prevented from working as a result
- Your weekly wages at the time of the accident
- Further information about the circumstances surrounding the accident
- Physician information
Every South Carolina worker has the right to file this form on his or her own. Again, however, it may be in your best interest to enlist the help of an experienced attorney.
After filing Form 50 or 52 with South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, you will be given a determination by the entity. If you disagree with the decision, you have a right to appeal within 14 days of the determination.
How Long Until I Receive South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
As mentioned above, every South Carolina workers’ compensation case is different. You could begin to receive benefits within a month or so. Or, your case could last many months.
Regardless of your circumstance, South Carolina requires a mandatory seven-day waiting period before you receive benefits. If you’re out of work during this week-long period, and you’re approved for benefits, you will receive compensation once the waiting period has passed.
As you may expect, Workers’ Compensation benefits are provided by an insurer. Insurers are businesses, and it’s in their best interest to pay as little as possible. You, the injured party, may be required to present evidence of injury, of inability to work and of medical treatment.
Many workers’ compensation claims are denied when first submitted. The good news, however, is that approximately 70 percent of denied claims are later converted into approved claims and paid to claimants.
The appeals process is a fairly straightforward one. However, if you’ve been injured on the job, you’re likely dealing with doctors, bills, and the general stress of being temporarily out of work. Consider allowing an experienced legal team to apply for benefits on your behalf, and to appeal a decision if necessary.
Where Can I Find the Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Charleston?
A simple Google search for “workers’ compensation lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina” will return pages upon pages of results. How do you know which attorney is best suited to handle your case? After all, you’re busy recovering from your accident. You don’t have the time, desire or possibly the ability to interview the hundreds of attorneys in the area.
Choosing the best workers’ compensation lawyer in Charleston doesn’t have to be a daunting task. First, ask around with friends, family and even your doctor for recommendations. Do you know someone who’s experienced a workers’ comp case in the past? Ask who they worked with, and whether they’d recommend the practice.
Next, check that the attorney you’re considering is licensed to practice in South Carolina. You can do this via the South Carolina Bar website. Be sure to also research disciplinary action against the lawyer.
As you narrow down the list, research the law practice’s experience with cases like yours. What is their success rate? Do they specialize in workers’ compensation cases?
Finally, interview the prospective attorney. Ask him or her any questions you may have regarding your case, and use your intuition. Remember that your legal team will be beside you during one of the most stressful points in your career; if you don’t feel comfortable with your team, it’s okay to seek assistance elsewhere.
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How much will I receive with workers’ compensation benefits?
In South Carolina, your workers’ compensation benefits will be determined by your wages during the last four quarters of work. In many cases, you will receive 66 2/3 percent of that amount, but there are exceptions.
South Carolina has put in place a maximum benefit for workers’ compensation. This may vary from year to year, so check with the Workers’ Compensation Commission or your attorney to learn the current maximum allowance.
When will my workers’ compensation benefits end?
Your workers’ compensation benefits will end when your doctor releases you for work. If you are released with clearance for “light duty,” and your employer offers you a qualifying position, you must accept that position. You will still receive benefits equaling the pay difference between your new position and the previous one.
Failure to accept appropriate light duty work will result in the termination of your benefits.
Does hiring an attorney guarantee workers’ compensation benefits?
No. No attorney may guarantee the outcome of any case. However, an experienced legal team can assist you in increasing the likelihood that you will be paid benefits.
Even if you’ve been denied workers’ compensation benefits, it may be a good idea to schedule a consultation with an attorney. He or she can review your case and determine whether an appeal is an appropriate option for you.
Does my workers’ compensation cover my medical bills?
In most cases, yes. Not only will your workers’ compensation benefits cover the cost of lost wages, it will also help to cover the medical expenses you incur as a direct result of your accident.
Whether you need long- or short-term care, your benefits can help. Hospitalization, medical travel expenses, and death benefits are included in your benefits. In addition, your workers’ compensation may compensate you if you’re disfigured.
Your attorney will advocate for you to ensure that you are considered for the most compensation allowed by South Carolina law.
How long do I have to file for workers’ compensation?
Assume for a moment that you were involved in a workplace accident but didn’t notice ill effects for several days. For example, perhaps you were in a motor vehicle accident while delivering packages but only began to experience pain after the fact.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations to file for workers’ compensation is ninety days. With that said, it’s critical that, no matter the severity of the incident, you notify your employer of accidents. This serves as a “paper trail” should you be required to file for workers’ compensation several weeks or months after the incident.
If you work in South Carolina and have been injured on the job, contact the office of Morgan & Morgan. Our experienced team of workers’ compensation attorneys is ready to review and discuss your case and assist you through the process of filing for benefits. Call us today or fill out our no obligation contact form to get started right away.