WORKERS' COMPENSATION and on the job injuries
If you have been injured on the job, the Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC is available to help you understand Workers’ Compensation benefits and laws. An understanding or your legal rights can help you deal effectively with a job-related injury or death and the resulting financial issues. Once you have recognized that you need help with your Workers’ Compensation claim, the next step is selecting an attorney to help you through the process, and our attorneys stand ready to assist you.
Every South Carolina employer and employee, with certain notable exceptions, is presumed to be covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Exceptions to this provision include railroad and railway express companies and employees, certain casual employees, Federal employees in South Carolina, businesses with less than four employees, agricultural employees, and certain real estate salespersons, and, by election, corporate officers.
Employers covered by the provisions of the Act are required to maintain insurance sufficient for the payment of compensation to an injured worker, or must furnish the
Commission satisfactory proof of their ability to pay the compensation in the amount and manner due to an injured employee.
According to the Workplace Safety Index, which is produced by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, employers spent $50.8 billion in 2003 on wage payments and medical care for workers hurt on the job. That year, the leading cause of serious workplace injuries was overexertion from excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing of an object. Overexertion-related injuries cost employers $13.4 billion in 2003, according to the index.
The second-leading cause of injuries was falls on the same level, which cost employers $6.9 billion, followed by bodily reaction (injuries from bending, climbing, slipping or tripping without falling), $5.1 billion.
In the state of South Carolina during fiscal year 2003-2004, the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted 1,442 inspections. Of those, 76 were accident and fatality investigations that involved 49 work-related deaths.
If you have been injured on the job, you should:
- Get medical attention if there is an emergency.
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, by giving written notice to your supervisor or someone in a supervisory position. Failure to promptly give notice to your employer may affect your right to benefits. Your employer is not responsible for paying medical treatment or wages until you give notice of the accident or disease.
- If you work for a subcontractor, you should promptly give written notice of your accident or occupational disease to your direct employer and the general contractor.
- Report all accidents even if the injury seems minor. A small injury can develop into a serious problem.
In order to be covered under the terms of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, an accident must occur at work, or during a work related function; the accident must be caused by a specific work activity, and must happen suddenly at a specific time. Injuries incurred gradually or from repetitive stress or traumas are not covered. For example, if an employee lifts an object, and feels a sudden pain causing him an injury, and he can identify that specific incident, the claim will be covered. However, if an employee lifts objects for weeks at a time, and gradually develops back pain, that is not a specific injury at a specific time, and the injury would not be covered.
An occupational disease will be covered if it is caused by the work, and is not a disease of the back, neck, or spinal column.
The types of benefits available to claimants include payment for all medical treatment (prescriptions, supplies, equipment, hospital costs, doctor bills) and a portion of your weekly wages. Benefits for lost wages will vary depending on whether your injury is considered a temporary total disability or a permanent disability. Compensation is based on your average weekly wage (gross earnings before the accident or disease, usually during the preceding 52 weeks, and includes overtime and other benefits provided by the employer such as meals, uniform, car and housing allowances).
Companies work hard to protect themselves from Workers’ Compensation claims, and will always have attorneys and insurance companies protecting their interests. You need an attorney to represent your interests – one qualified to interpret Workers’ Compensation laws and able to provide legal guidance and assistance to ensure full recovery of all funds to which the injured worker is entitled.
Some of the issues associated with a Workers’ Compensation claim include:
- Your employer can deny Workers’ Compensation claims.
- Employers can stop paying benefits.
- Employer fraud, which can cause workers to be cheated out of part of or all of their Workers’ Compensation claims.
- Limitations to Workers’ Compensation laws and misunderstandings about what they mean.
An attorney representing your interests will help you deal with these issues as well as many others, including returning to work and how your claim is impacted by pension benefits and unemployment compensation.
Call the Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC to prepare a comprehensive, compelling case for your right to receive benefits. You can reach
us at 843-CALL-JOE (843-225-5563), or contact us via our
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