HURT ON THE JOB
In South Carolina, an employee's only route of recovery against an employer for an injury on the job is workers' compensation. We understand there are negative connotations associated with the two-word term. Yet, how else is a laborer supposed to feed his/her family if they are out of work after being injured at work? We firmly believe the workman's compensation laws do not go far enough to protect the people who built and continue to build this state, and to the people who work to keep it thriving.
FIRST STEPS IN A WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIM
You're moving a forklift at your job in Columbia, or you're working with machinery at a plant in Lexington, and it happens: you get hurt. It could be a simple strain, or it could be worse, like paralyzation or amputation. What are the next steps? You have to notify your employer, and you likely need to be treated.
Workers' compensation claims require an initial report of incident to be reported by the employer. Additionally, the employee must treat with doctors the employer selects. As you treat, you should be receiving 2/3 of your weekly wage after the first week of being put out of work. If the treating physician says you are all better, you must either (1) return to work or (2) get a second medical opinion. If your doctor puts you on light duty, you must return to light duty work at your job (as long as your employer can offer the light duty work).
WHAT IS MY JOB INJURY WORTH
Initially, the weekly wage figure described above is part of your income (your pay), so no attorney should be taking a part of that in South Carolina. As your case develops and you obtain what is described as "maximum medical improvement" (MMI), discussions of a final settlement typically occur.
Our General Assembly has devised a master statute that tells every worker in South Carolina just how much their body part is worth. Along with the MMI percentage, and a determination of your disability rating (a figure that involves MMI and a subjective analysis of yourself, your abilities, and your experience), both sides attempt to agree on a monetary figure for your settlement. Sometimes, claimants agree on a "clincher," which ends the case and provides essentially no post-settlement medical treatment. Alternatively, the claimant may leave the medical treatment option open, normally in exchange for a lower settlement number.
HOW AN ATTORNEY MAY HELP YOU
Medical Treatment. If your treating physician has come to conclusions that you and the facts disagree with, an attorney may help you obtain an independent medical evaluation (IME). This allows you to select a doctor to evaluate you and give, in essence, a second medical opinion. This is especially helpful when your employer's insurance company has selected a defense doctor to treat you.
Settlement Negotiations. Although the law is straightforward, the workers' compensation process can be confusing and convoluted. Having an experienced South Carolina workman's comp lawyer help navigate these steps can be mentally and emotionally relieving.
If you would like to discuss your potential workers' comp claim, please give us a call or email Andrew. We are here to help injured South Carolinians, and this includes you.