Navigating workers’ comp settlements can be a tricky process. You’ll often need to negotiate the settlement details between your employer or its insurance company.
Workers compensation laws in South Carolina are complex. Without experience in this field or the help of an experienced lawyer, you risk settling for a lot less than you’re entitled to.
To help you better understand the basics of navigating workers’ comp claims, here are some of the most important things to be aware of:
Report Any Injuries Immediately and Note the Details
If you’re injured at work, you should always report it to your supervisor as soon as you can. There should be a procedure in place for reporting and recording injuries at your place of work.
There is also a deadline for reporting injuries that you’ll later file a claim for. So do it as soon as possible and follow both your company procedures and that of your attorney when you retain one.
Take some notes and pictures of the injury and where the injury ocurred, and make a note if there were any witnesses. The more accurate records you keep, the fewer disputes will come up in the settlement process.
Seek Medical Treatment/Evaluation
Having your injury evaluated and treated by a medical professional will also help you claim. Not to mention making sure you’re receiving the best standard of care for your injuries.
Medical care records will form an important part of your claim file. Doctors will be able to detail your injuries and add their professional opinions that a court will take into account.
Also, you should do this as soon as possible too. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more an insurance company is likely to say that your injury was not as serious as you’re claiming.
Consider Getting a Second Medical Opinion
Some companies will ask you to see a doctor chosen by them or their insurance company.
If this is the case, you must always get an opinion from another doctor. One that is not affiliated with your company or insurance company in any way.
It’s not always the case that a doctor chosen by your company will minimize your injuries to favor your employer. But it does make sense to get a second opinion just in case.
Your medical evidence is one of the most important pieces of evidence in your claim.
Be Aware of Your Rights and Workers’ Comp Benefits
It’s a good idea to start looking into what your rights and workers’ comp benefits are. Your situation is going to be unique to you, but there are a number of laws in place that’ll apply to you.
It can be a complicated area to fully understand. Which is why we always recommend that anyone injured at work calls us so one of our experienced lawyers can talk you through your options.
With that said, here are some of the laws regarding workers’ comp in South Carolina to be aware of:
Not all employees are eligible for workers’ compensation. If any of the following applies to you, you might not be eligible to make a claim:
- Federal employees
- An employee at a business with less than four employees
- Agricultural workers
- Corporate officers
- Some casual or temporary employees
- Railway express and railroad workers
Types of South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Again, you need to seek professional advice for your individual case. Generally speaking, however, you’ll be eligible for one of the following benefits:
Temporary disability benefits – Money paid while you’re off work and recovering from your injury.
Permanent disability benefits – This is for money if you’ve sustained long-lasting physical impairment due to your injuries.
Vocational rehabilitation – This is the process of helping you find a different job around your new physical restrictions.
Medical treatment – Costs covered for your medical bills and ongoing health care.
Mileage – You can claim back all the mileage incurred by traveling to workers’ comp-related travel.
Prepare for an Independent Medical Examination (IME)
We mentioned earlier that you should seek independent medical evaluation from two doctors. An employer will almost always ask you to attend an independent medical examination with one of their doctors.
You have to remember that regardless of how serious your injuries are, the insurance company will want to pay out the least possible amount. It’s nothing personal, this is how insurance companies work – they are a business aiming to make a profit.
In an IME, a medical professional will look at your medical records and interview. Their objective is to minimize the damages.
This is where it’s crucial you have consulted with an attorney. If there are any holes in your records, it’ll be exposed. Your attorney will help prepare you for your IME, which is invaluable if it’s a new process for you.
Be Mindful of Private Investigators
We’re not suggesting you’re faking or playing up any injuries. If you’re filing a large compensation claim for serious personal injuries, there is a chance your employer will hire a private investigator.
If you’re spotted performing activities you told your doctor was uncomfortable or impossible. They will record it and may use it against you.
Things aren’t always what they seem out of context. You may be lifting something that looks a lot heavier than it really is. The goal is to avoid any such instance.
As hard as it is, while your workers’ comp claim is pending you should keep a low profile. Do not perform any activities that could even give the impression that you’re not as injured as you’ve claimed.
Listen To Your Attorney
We’ve represented a number of people and helped them secure the maximum they were entitled to with their workers’ comp claim.
Here at Kent Law Firm, we’re experienced in handling claims for workers’ comp and work-related injuries. We understand the nuances of the law regarding workers’ comp, so you don’t have to.
We will ensure you are treated fairly. Call us today on 803-433-5368 or contact us via this form and we’ll arrange a time to discuss your case.