Bowen McKenzie Bowen LLC

Injured on the job? How to get the compensation you deserve

You are hard at work, concentrating on the task at hand, when your heel catches on the carpet. You then fall hard on one knee and have trouble getting back up. Or, you have been working at the same office for years, and you are starting to notice an uncomfortable tingling in the fingers of your right hand. When you mention it to your doctor, he diagnoses it as carpal tunnel syndrome.

What now?

When you are injured at work or develop an illness directly related to your job, workers' compensation is supposed to compensate you for any days of work you miss as a result and pay for all related medical costs.

Will I qualify for workers' compensation?

For workers' compensation to cover your illness or injury, there are a few stipulations. Just because an injury occurred while you were at work does not automatically entitle you to benefits. As an employee, you must be at work or doing something directly job related when the injury or accident - or, in some cases, dangerous chemical or substance exposure - occurs.

In addition, while the law does require most employers to buy workers' compensation insurance, it unfortunately does not cover all workers. For example, workers' compensation typically does not cover:

  • Domestic workers (such as nannies or housekeepers)
  • Independent contractors
  • Agricultural workers
  • Seasonal or undocumented workers

What should I do first?

As soon as possible after your injury occurs, report it. Report the illness or injury to a supervisor or to the Human Resources department as quickly as you can. Most likely, you will receive an incident report to fill out, and an insurance adjuster may call or send paperwork shortly thereafter. In fact, if they do not follow up, you will probably want to check with your boss.

What if the injury is life-threatening?

In an emergency, your first priority will be your own health and safety. You will go wherever the ambulance takes you. When you arrive at the hospital or emergency room and are filling out paperwork, there will most likely be a box on the forms for you to check if your injury occurred at work.

In a nonemergency situation, your boss may tell you which doctor or hospital to go to so that workers' compensation covers your bills. When choosing your own health care providers to treat your work-related injury, you may want to check first whether workers' compensation has approved or certified them.

What if the injury was my fault?

If your employer claims that workers' compensation will not cover your treatment because the accident was your own fault, they are most likely incorrect, or may even be lying to you. Workers' compensation is "no-fault insurance."

Are there any exceptions to the no-fault rule?

In many states, workers' compensation does not cover injuries that happen as a result of horseplay, or injuries that occur because an employee was drunk or high on illegal substances. In fact, many employers require a drug test after an accident and positive test results may result in a denial of your claim. 

Why do I need a lawyer?

You may be wondering why you even need an attorney if workers' compensation covers your injury or illness. In an ideal world, the system would process your claim quickly and you would receive full compensation. But as you are probably aware, reality is often far from ideal.
If you're uncertain whether workers' compensation will cover your injury or whether your illness is even work related, a South Carolina attorney will be able to offer insight. In addition, an attorney will be able to fight on your behalf for you to get all of the benefits to which you are entitled. 

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Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice The American Trial Lawyers Association Best Lawyers Injured Workers' Advocates South Carolina Association For Justice South Carolina Bar Law Association

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Greenville, SC 29605

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