Workers Compensation Lawyer in Spartanburg, SC
The process of getting workers compensation in Spartanburg County can be complex and confusing, so it helps to have a workers compensation lawyer to handle the important steps and details and guide you through the process. You want to work with an attorney who inspires confidence and shows compassion and care for your situation and unique needs. When it comes to finding the right workers compensation lawyer in Spartanburg, SC to help you with your workers compensation claim, you want to choose someone with experience in working with insurance companies to receive fair compensation for workplace injuries. If you have been seriously injured, or if you are a survivor of someone who was killed on the job, then it is especially important for you to have the benefit of an experienced firm like Bryan Ramey and Associates.
What is Workers Compensation?
Workers compensation is a type of insurance paid for by employers that protect both the employer and employee in the event an employee is injured. Most companies are required by law to have workers compensation coverage, which means if you are an employee injured while performing job duties, you should receive compensation for the cost of your medical care related to those injuries. Unfortunately, not all workers compensation claims are cut-and-dry.
As long as an employer has a staff of more than four people who can be employed on the full-time or part-time basis, they are required to have workers compensation insurance, which means the majority of businesses provide workers compensation coverage to their employees. Exceptions to the requirements include smaller companies, agricultural and railroad businesses, and businesses with a small annual payroll.
The other exception that tends to affect a number of people in the workforce applies to independent contractors. When a person is an independent contractor (IC), he or she performs work for a company but is not considered an employee. Working as an independent contractor not only sacrifices benefits such as paid vacation and sick time, but also forfeits the right to workers compensation benefits.
Businesses have the ability to classify people as employees or independent contractors, but how these classifications occur is governed by a set of rules by which employers must abide. On occasion, an employer may try to take advantage of the system and classify someone who should be an employee as an IC. If you believe you have been wrongly classified, it’s important to speak to an employment law expert and get your classification adjusted, so you have access to workers compensation if needed.
What to Do If Injured On the Job in Spartanburg SC?
If you are injured while performing your job duties, in addition to seeking medical care you also need to report your injuries to your employer as soon as possible. Taking too long to report your injuries puts your workers compensation at risk. If possible, report your injuries as soon as you endure them, but if you must be rushed to the hospital for medical care, contact your employer as soon as you safely can to explain the details of your injuries.
In Spartanburg, SC, your injuries must be reported within 90 days of the accident that caused the injury. If you develop a disease or illness, it must be reported within 90 days of your becoming aware of the situation.
The statute of limitations is why it’s so important to seek medical care, even if an injury on the job seems minor. What might initially seem like “no big deal” could become a serious injury in the long run. It is highly advisable that you have a doctor’s evaluation and that you have informed your employer of the occurrence of the injury. You have up to two years to file a claim, so just because you’ve reported a (seemingly) minor incident doesn’t mean you have automatically filed a workers compensation claim. Reporting the injury provides you with legal protection, should you develop an injury due to the event.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go easy when it comes to receiving the workers compensation benefits that you’re entitled to. Incorrectly filled out forms or hurdles that you have to face can prevent you from receiving your benefits and payments. This is where you need a workers compensation lawyer to fight for your rights. A workers compensation lawyer can typically visit you in your Spartanburg SC home or in the hospital if necessary, and we offer a free consultation.
Who is Eligible to File for Workers Compensation in Spartanburg County?
In addition to being an employee of a company that is legally obligated to purchase workers compensation coverage, there are a few other factors involved in your eligibility for filing a claim.
First and foremost, you must be an employee injured while doing your job, or an employee who was made ill because of their job.
It’s not enough for an injury to have occurred while you were at your workplace or during work hours – you must have experienced your injuries while engaged in your job duties. For instance, if you are a victim of workplace violence or you were injured.
Additionally, you are not eligible to receive workers compensation if you actively engaged in behavior that was reckless or if you were intoxicated when your injuries occurred. An injury can be because of a mistake you made, so you don’t need to be entirely blameless to collect workers compensation in Spartanburg County. However, you do need to have been sober and acting in good faith.
How Long Do I Have to Report a Work-Related Injury in Spartanburg County?
Time Limits for Reporting an Injury and Filing a Claim in Spartanburg, SC
If you have sustained a work-related injury, you must report it to your supervisor within 90 days. If you do not do so, then you cannot receive compensation for your injuries unless there is a reasonable exception to satisfy the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission and the employer is found to be unprejudiced (SC Code Ann. § 42-15-20). If you do not immediately (or soon thereafter) give notice of the accident to your employer, then you will not be entitled to medical compensation or benefits.
In some cases, such as occupational disease, you must inform your employer when you become disabled and when you reasonably should have discovered the condition (Muir v. C.R. Bard, Inc. 336 S.C. 266, 519 S.E.2d 583 – S.C. App. 1999).
Statute of Limitations:
Once you’ve discovered a compensable job-related injury or illness and have notified your employer within 90 days of discovery, you have two years from the date of the injury or discovery of illness to file a workers compensation claim in South Carolina. If the accident resulted in death, then the survivors of the employee have two years from the date of death to file a claim. You cannot get around the statute of limitations unless you can demonstrate that your employer mislead you into failing to act within the given time limit.
Change of Condition:
If your physical condition changes, due to the original injury, you have twelve months from the date of your last payment of compensation to report the change of condition (S.C. Code Ann. § 42-17-90).
What is the Statute of Limitations for injured minors?
A minor employee can still recover damages from workers compensation in Spartanburg County, even if he or she lied about age on the application for employment. There is no time limit against those who are dependent minors without a guardian, trustee, or committee or against the mentally incompetent. An employee is defined in S.C. Code Ann. §42-1-130 as including minors, even if they are unlawfully employed.
What Happens after You’ve Received Medical Care?
Once you’ve initially dealt with your injuries and reported the incident, you should ask your employer to explain your workers compensation benefits. Chances are the human resources department can provide you with written information about the coverage. Next, you’ll want to local your state’s workers compensation office and gather additional information. The more educated you are about workers compensation and the events that occur following a workplace injury the better. This way you can protect yourself and ensure you are not being taken advantage of by your employer or by the insurance provider.
Remember, you are eligible for workers compensation even if you played a role in your injuries. It is no-fault insurance, so as long as you were sober and not acting recklessly, you are eligible. If your employer tells you otherwise, you are being misled. And, if you decide not to file a claim because you believe you were to blame for the injury, you are making a mistake.
Do I Need a Workers Comp Lawyer?
The easiest answer to this question is “not always.” If your employer is helpful with your claim and you receive a compensation payment, you may feel retaining an attorney is unnecessary. The state determines how much your compensation will be and it is usually a standard percent based on the amount of money an employee makes. There is no wiggle room for employers or insurance providers to determine a payout – they must do so based on the law.
However, employers and insurance companies do have the right to deny your claim, or at least try to do so. The potential for being denied is why it helps to speak to an experienced workers compensation lawyer about your claim. You owe nothing to the attorney until you receive your compensation, so you never need to worry about paying out-of-pocket for workers compensation lawyer’s fees in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
There are certain circumstances under which you should absolutely seek the support and guidance of a worker’ compensation lawyer. These include:
- Injuries severe enough to require surgery
- Your desire to dispute an adverse decision made by your employer or the insurance company, or your state’s workers comp division regarding your workers compensation claim
- Your belief that you are not receiving the correct benefits, or are curious if there are additional benefits for which you might be eligible
- Denial of your benefits
- Dispute by your employer of a decision made by your state workers comp division
- Injuries moderate to severe enough that you and your doctor believe your health will return to the condition it was before your injury. This could qualify you for a “permanent partial disability” award.
- Your inability to work on a regular basis in any job
- Your inability to go back to work at your current job, but the possibility of working believe you could work in some other capacity
- You having significant pre-existing disabilities
- You believe you lack an understanding of the workers comp process and would feel more comfortable working with an expert
Whether you choose to work with a workers compensation lawyer is entirely up to you. You have a right to attorney representation, and if your employer or the insurance company tells you otherwise, it should raise a red flag.
It’s especially important for you to work with a Spartanburg, SC workers compensation lawyer if the injuries you’ve sustained are permanent because you might have a right to additional compensation. This does not necessary affect your employer, but an attorney will be able to review all of your options with you and help you determine how to proceed.
Additionally, if you can return to work, but you have special needs or need support to do so, your attorney will help you gain access to the vocational services available in your area. Many people find that after a moderate to severe injury their return to work can be difficult and challenging. Your attorney can help you find the appropriate resources to assist you through this time.
Finally, if your employee is disputing any aspect of your claim or you believe the insurance company is trying to prevent you from getting what is due to you in compensation, it’s essential you contact an attorney. Fighting for your rights in a workers compensation claim can be a confusing and arduous process. Working with an experienced attorney ensures you are not taken advantage of and that you have someone on your side who understands the complex rules and laws governing the workers compensation process.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. These consultations in no way obligate you to work with an attorney or file a workers compensation claim. The goal is to help you assess your situation and determine how you should proceed. It’s important that you ask questions and get to know an attorney during this consultation, and that the attorney is candid regarding your circumstances. You should beware any attorney that makes promises about your case that seem too good to be true.
Also, beware attorneys who do not work on a contingency basis. Workers compensation attorney typically receive their pay from your award, based on a percent of that award. If a lawyer asks for payment upfront, it might be best to speak to someone else who happily works on a contingency basis. Contingency basis just means the attorney’s compensation is contingent on your award.
What Happens If Your Workers Compensation Claim is Denied?
If you learn that your claim is being denied, don’t panic. It happens frequently, and it doesn’t mean you will be responsible for your medical bills or forced to return to work before your body has healed. An initial denial does not even mean your claim will ultimately be denied, but it does mean you need assistance from an experienced professional who can help you navigate disputing the denial.
Some of the most common reasons workers compensation claims are denied include:
- If there are no witnesses to the injury, a claim can be denied. If nobody saw you injured, nobody can corroborate your claims. Obviously, there’s nothing you can do, and you cannot go back and reinjure yourself with someone watching. The best thing you can do is to continue to tell consistent fact about the event that led to your injury and hope that your medical information will back up your story.
- Your injuries were not reported soon enough. It’s possible for claims to be denied if you fail to report your injuries within the statute of limitations. The sooner you file a report, the better.
- There is a discrepancy between your medical information and your report. Insurance companies are looking for any reason they can find to deny your claim, and if the details included in your medical records don’t jive with your claim, they’ll try to use it to their advantage. Consistency is critical, so don’t change your story even if you have good intentions.
- Your medical records show evidence of alcohol or illegal drugs in your system. Your claim will be denied if you were drinking or using illegal drugs while on the job.
- Your claim wasn’t filed until after you were laid off or terminated from your job. Claims that follow layoffs and terminations raise red flags. There are times when claims filed after you are no longer working for a company are valid, but they are almost always assumed to be revenge claims. This is another reason why it’s important to file a claim as soon as possible.
- You refuse to provide medical information. You’ll be asked to give a recorded statement regarding the incident and your injuries, which can put you in an awkward position. And though you’ll be asked for this statement you are under no legal obligation to give it. As a matter of fact, in most cases, giving an account can put you at risk unless you’ve hired an attorney. Refusing to give a statement will result in an initial denial, but long-term it could be in your best interest to refuse.
Am I Eligible to Get a Multi-Million Dollar Workers Compensation Settlement?
There are times when an injured worker receives a large settlement, but this is extremely rare, and it usually requires help from an experienced workers compensation lawyer. Workers compensation alone is not usually enough to pay for more than lost wages and medical bills. There might also be state minimums for how much you can receive in workers compensation. These caps prevent awards from being too large, and if you feel you are entitled to more than the standard payment, you’ll need to pursue other avenues to receive it.
It’s also important to realize that employees who attempt to commit workers compensation fraud are rarely successful. There will be a thorough investigation into your claims, and the expert opinions of medical professionals will be used in determining your award.
In the past, even when claimants were able to fool their doctors – or worse, encourage their physicians to participate in the fraud – the claims were unsuccessful in the long run. Even worse, the act of committing workers compensation fraud is illegal and can result in jail time and steep fines.
When to Hire a Workers Compensation Lawyer
If you’re not sure if you should hire a workers compensation lawyer, then consider some of the following questions before seeking a free consultation:
- Have you been injured on the job?
- Did you receive or require medical attention for workplace injuries?
- Were you injured while driving for work-related purposes?
- Are you unable to work because of the injury?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are entitled to workers compensation benefits and payments in Spartanburg County. If you choose to work with a workers compensation lawyer, then you will be able to receive your pay and benefits as quickly as possible and will avoid the common mistakes of injured workers. You may need to file a third party claim, in some cases, such as when a defective product harms you while you are working. A workers compensation lawyer can advise you on your options and help you get the maximum benefits that you deserve.
If you have been injured on the job or you need to speak to someone about a workers compensation issue in Spartanburg, we can help. Contact the Bryan Ramey & Associates at 864-309-0000 for a free case review.