What you do right after you get hurt at work can have a major impact on your ability to recover South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. To help ensure that your claim is approved and that you are covered, follow these tips immediately after your accident:
- Get medical help immediately. This is important even if you think your injury wasn’t a very serious one. Minor aches and pains can develop into major health problems, and if you don’t see a doctor promptly, you could jeopardize your health and your right to make a workers’ comp claim.
- Report your injury to your employer right away. You must tell your employer within 90 days of the accident unless there are special extenuating circumstances. The sooner you tell your employer the better, since you can get the ball rolling on your claim.
- Get the names of witnesses to the accident. In case there is any dispute about whether your injury was work-related, you’ll want to have people who can back up your version of events. Usually, it will be your co-workers who were present.
- Make sure the correct forms are filed. The First Report of Injury (WCC Form 12-A) must be filed when you have suffered a work injury. To make a South Carolina workers’ comp claim, Form 50 or Form 52 has to be filed with the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission. Your employer is responsible for completing forms and submitting them to the workers’ compensation insurer and/or Workers’ Compensation Commission. However, if your employer doesn’t file the forms or if you aren’t certain if the forms have been filed, you should follow up by contacting your HR department or filing the forms yourself.
- Get legal help. Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a challenging process with many legal hurdles. Although the system is supposed to be simple, employers and insurers don’t always do what they are required to by law. A South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help make sure you follow the right steps to get the benefits you deserve.
- Don’t share too much information and, especially, stay off social media. Information you provide about your injury or condition could potentially be used as justification to limit or deny your benefits. It is best to err on the side of caution and to say as little as possible outside of official correspondence to your employer or the insurance company that is reviewed by your attorney.
Tips on Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Medical Care
Once you have filed an initial claim and had your claim for benefits approved, South Carolina workers’ compensation should provide full coverage for medical benefits. However, it is important to follow these tips to make sure you understand your rights to medical care and to help you to get the workers’ comp benefits that you need:
- You must go to a doctor chosen by your employer or workers’ compensation insurer. When workers’ compensation covers your care, you have to go to a doctor chosen by the insurer. If you go to your own physician for treatment, then your bills may not be covered.
- You have the right to competent medical care. Under certain circumstances, you may also choose the physician to provide you with specialized care. If you do not want to see a doctor that the workers’ comp insurer has chosen for you or if you believe you are getting inadequate care, contact a lawyer.
- Transportation to your doctor may be covered, so keep track of your mileage and trips. If you have to see a doctor or go to a pharmacy that is more than 10 miles from where you are located, workers’ compensation benefits will pay you for mileage. If you have transportation costs, keep track of them so you can get the money back.
- Don’t miss too many medical appointments. If you do not show up for appointments when you are required to do so, the workers’ compensation insurer could try to stop your benefits. If you are not able to go to an appointment, you should contact the health care provider and let them know why.
- Consider getting an independent second opinion. Unfortunately, your doctor may have an incentive to try to underestimate the severity of your injuries or to choose less costly treatment options. After all, it is the employer and insurer who choose the doctors and who provide repeat business. Getting an independent second opinion is a good idea to make sure your interests are being looked out for.
- Keep copies of all medical bills and medical records. If there are discrepancies as to whether bills are paid or whether you are as severely injured as you claim to be, past bills and records can help to provide evidence you need to bolster your claim.
Tips on Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Disability
- Remember, wage loss benefits start after just seven days of missed work.As soon as you have missed at least seven days of work, you could become entitled to compensation for lost wages. If you aren’t getting paid for your missed workdays, you need to speak to your employer or to a lawyer.
- Keep a journal detailing your pain and the impairments that the disability causes. This can help to prove just how impaired you are, making it easier to get disability benefits if there is doubt about whether your work injuries prevented you from going back to work.
- Double check your compensation rate to make sure it is correctly calculated. The WCC Form 20 is used to verify your average weekly wage in the year before the accident. You may be entitled to up to two-thirds of your weekly lost wages in the form of South Carolina workers’ compensation disability benefits, but it is important to make sure that your lost wages benefits are correctly calculated. Employers and insurers sometimes neglect to include overtime and other benefits in calculating your weekly wage for disability benefits.
- Understand that you have the right to disability benefits even for partial or temporary disabilities. You should expect to receive compensation from workers’ comp for any temporary condition you have that prevents you from working, as well as for any condition or illness that has reduced your earning power. If your employer isn’t paying you temporary disability benefits or is not paying you a percentage of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury income, get legal help.
Tips on Returning to Work
- Follow work restrictions your doctor has placed on you. If your doctor says you have to do light-duty work or shouldn’t exert yourself, don’t try to do too much– even if you feel good. You could jeopardize your health and you could put your workers’ comp benefits at risk.
- Talk to your doctor right away if you begin to experience a relapse or if work aggravates your symptoms. In some cases, injured workers will return to work and then find that it is too much for them. If this happens, you may become re-eligible for disability benefits and other workers’ compensation coverage, but you need to speak up.
- Do not allow an employer to force you to go back to work before you are ready. Going back to work too soon can be dangerous to your health and it can put unnecessary stress on you. If your employer is trying to force you to return to work too soon, get legal assistance right away.
Tips on Resolving Problems with Your Workers’ Comp Claim or Benefits
- Follow deadlines for appeals. There is a multi-step internal appeals process as well as the option to appeal denials in court once you’ve exhausted the administrative appeals available. There are strict deadlines for appealing, however, and it is important to file your appeal as soon as you receive a denial.
- Consult with an attorney. The administrative appeals process for South Carolina Workers’ Compensation claims is complex. You’ll want an advocate on your side to represent your interests.
Contact Our South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
The S.C. workplace injury attorneys at Land Parker Welch LLC are dedicated to providing professional and ethical service to clients with workers’ compensation claims. Our S.C. firm will provide sensitive representation as you recuperate from your injuries. Call us now at (803) 435-8894 or use our online contact form for a free consultation.