Workers’ Compensation is a statutory schedule of benefits available to workers who are injured on the job. Rules regarding the claims process and benefits available vary from state to state. In South Carolina, employers who have four or more employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. If an employee suffers a workplace injury or illness, the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier will cover the costs of related medical bills and will also provide disability benefits if the employee is unable to work because of the injury or illness. There is a specific procedure for reporting injuries or illnesses, obtaining medical treatment, and filing a Workers’ Compensation claim in South Carolina.
Employees who are injured on the job should immediately seek medical attention. In emergency situations, injured employees should go to the nearest emergency room and obtain treatment as soon as possible. In non-emergency situations, employers should be notified of the injury immediately to help coordinate medical care for the injured worker. In South Carolina, medical treatment needs to be authorized and approved by the employer/insurance company as our state is an employer choice of doctor state.
A workplace injury or illness must be reported to an employer within 90 days of the accident or diagnosis. However, it is prudent for employees to report injuries as soon as possible so that the Workers’ Compensation process may begin. Employees should report details such as when, where, and how the injury occurred, along with any resulting injuries sustained. Employers must then report the injury to their insurance company, which will start the process for the appropriate benefits.
If an employer does not report the injury to their insurance carrier or the insurance carrier refuses to pay benefits, the employee may face a denied Workers’ Compensation claim. In this case, the assistance of a skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer is critical. Claims must be filed with the South Carolina Industrial Commission by completing a Form 50 within two years of a workplace accident or diagnosis of an occupational illness. If there is a dispute between the employee and the employer or insurance company, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will intervene to resolve the dispute at a hearing. The case will be heard by one of the seven commissioners usually within about four months.
Employees may appeal the commissioner’s decision within 14 days of the decision. The case will then go before a three-member panel. Mediation, a process in which a neutral, third party will help both sides reach a mutually beneficial settlement agreement in a less formal setting, may be requested in lieu of the formal hearing. If an employee’s appeal is unsuccessful, there is a right of appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Being represented by an experienced work injury lawyer can greatly increase the chance of an injured employee having a successful outcome.
If you were injured in a workplace accident or have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, contact the experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden. We have extensive experience guiding injured workers through all stages of the claims process. Contact us online or call us at 803-929-3600 to schedule a free consultation. We represent injured workers in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.