How to file a claim and get maximum compensation after an injury
For most people, hotels are places to relax and sleep comfortably while away from home, but hotel workers often have a totally different impression of their place of employment. In addition to meeting the demands of guests and management, hotel workers do physically demanding tasks, and they often work in hazardous settings.
Fortunately, injured South Carolina hospitality employees are generally eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for their workplace injuries.
In the news:
Irvine hotel workers demand workplace protections
Hotel cleaning staff in Irvine are lobbying for better pay and more respectful working conditions. These workers report regular occurrences of excessively dirty rooms, harassment and violent hotel guests. Many of them say they’re uncomfortable with reporting unsafe interactions with guests because they fear retribution from their managers.
Unite Here 11, a local union that represents thousands of hotel workers, called for the city council to enact a new ordinance that will protect hotel workers. Long Beach, Glendale and Los Angeles have passed similar ordinances. Specifically, the Irvine ordinance calls for hotels to provide a safety device that would allow hotel maids to alert newly-required security personnel if they encounter a situation that makes them feel unsafe. The ordinance also calls for hotels to return to daily cleanings to better manage workloads and limit the maximum amount of work that can be assigned to each individual cleaner.
Common injuries among South Carolina hotel workers
Hotel worker injuries are often the result of the physical nature of many hotel jobs.
- Overexertion injuries. Workers may sustain muscle strain if they are required to push cleaning carts or maneuver heavy equipment.
- Slip, trip and fall injuries. Hard floor surfaces require regular mopping and create a slipping hazard when the floor is wet. Workers may also trip and fall over a stray item on the floor of a guest room. Slip-and-fall accidents frequently lead to injuries such as bone fractures, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
- Chemical injuries. Cleaners and maintenance workers may be required to work with chemicals that can cause burns, skin irritation, eye irritation and respiratory illnesses.
- Repetitive motion injuries. These injuries are common among workers who perform repetitive tasks like typing, standing, reaching up, and bending throughout their shift.
Workers’ compensation for South Carolina hotel workers
Hotel employees who are hurt on the job are generally eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. South Carolina requires most businesses that employ 4 or more workers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
The workers’ comp process is available to workers who are classified as employees and are injured in a job-related accident. A worker who contracts an illness or develops a health condition over time as a result of exposure to hazards at work may also receive workers’ comp benefits.
What workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to after an injury?
Workers’ comp pays for the following benefits after a work injury:
- Medical expenses, including doctor and emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, hospital stays, medical equipment and medications.
- Lost wages. Workers’ comp provides financial compensation to cover two-thirds of a worker’s lost wages if they’re unable to work or can only work in a limited capacity while they heal from their injuries.
- Death benefits. These are available to certain dependents if a worker dies from their on-the-job injuries.
How do I file a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
In the event of a work accident, the injured employee should take the following steps to ensure they remain eligible for workers’ comp benefits:
- Seek medical attention. Always seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident, even if you don’t initially feel injured. Failure to see a doctor and get medical documentation of your injury can make it more difficult to get workers’ comp benefits.
- Notify your employer. Although you should ideally inform your employer about your injury as early as possible, state law requires workers to notify their employer within 90 days of the date of the accident that caused the injury.
- Employer files a claim. Next, the employer will file a claim with its insurance company. The insurance company will require the injured worker to be examined by the employer’s approved doctor. After the doctor confirms the injury and creates a plan for the injured worker, the worker must follow the doctor’s recommendations, including taking prescribed medication and returning to work on the specified date.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer refuses to file a claim or your claim is denied, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can ensure your rights are protected.
How a workers’ compensation attorney can help
The workers’ comp process is generally straightforward. Nevertheless, there can be challenges, including:
- An employer may refuse to report the injury or file a workers’ comp claim on the worker’s behalf.
- A worker may disagree with the benefits amount or the doctor’s plan for their return to work.
- A legitimate workers’ claim may be contested or denied by an employer or their insurance company.
In all of these cases, a workers’ comp attorney can provide legal advice and representation to ensure your employer and their insurer don’t try to take advantage of you or force you to return to work before you’ve recovered from your injuries.
Other ways an attorney can help with your workers’ comp claim
Other ways a workers’ comp attorney can help protect your best interests include the following:
- Determine if settlement offers are fair. In some instances, an insurance company may approve a claim and offer an injured worker a one-time settlement amount. Workers should always contact an attorney to determine whether the offered amount is fair before agreeing to settle a workers’ comp claim because once you accept a settlement, you can’t go back later and request more money if you realize your injuries are more severe than you realized.
- Level the legal playing field. Insurance companies employ corporate attorneys that protect the interests of the insurer. Injured workers also need their own professional legal representative to protect their interests.
- Help with 3rd-party claims. Some injured workers may also have the option of filing a legal claim against a 3rd party to receive more compensation than a workers’ comp claim would provide. This may be possible in cases involving injuries from equipment with a manufacturer’s defect. A South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help determine if a 3rd-party lawsuit is possible in your case.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney
Injured workers have a right to compensation after a work-related injury or illness. If you’ve been injured while working at a hotel in South Carolina, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too.
Contact us today for your free consultation.