Get Answers to These FAQs We Hear the Most
We know how many questions you must have right now about your personal injury or workers' comp case, so we compiled this list of the questions we hear the most. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call our Columbia law office to speak with Kenneth Berger.
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How Much is My Workers' Compensation Case in South Carolina Worth?
South Carolina workers’ compensation law provides a number of benefits, including: medical treatment; payment for time missed from work due to injury; and compensation for any permanent impairment or disability.When asked how much money someone should receive from his or her workers’ compensation case, the answer is always: it depends. The value or worth of most workers’ compensation settlements is based on:
- Impairment Rating;
- How the impairment effects the injured worker’s ability to earn a living;
- Work and educational history;
- Transferrable skills;
- How much money the injured worker was earning at the time of the accident;
- What body part or parts were injured;
- Whether future medical treatment is needed; and
- Whether the medical treatment will be left open.
Determing What Your Case Is Worth
Let’s look at these items one-by-one. First, impairment could be thought of as the permanent effect on physical health and mobility. For instance, if your shoulder was 100% before you tore your rotator cuff at work, it may only be 90% after surgery and physical therapy. You would therefore have 10% impairment to your shoulder. Impairment ratings are not issued until you have reached maximum medical improvement (“MMI”). MMI is the point at which your condition has stabilized. Your injury is not getting any worse but it will not ever get any better – it has plateaued. Thus, you have what is known as a permanent impairment.
Impairment has different effects on different people. For instance, in my job as a workers’ compensation lawyer, I could tear a ligament in my knee, sustain a 5% impairment, yet have no problem pushing papers, drafting documents, or standing up in court. Conversely, someone whose job requires heavy lifting, squatting, and carrying, could sustain the same injury and be unable to return to their former job. That is where work and educational history, along with transferrable skills. come into play. In this example, the heavy laborer would have a tougher time earning the wages after the injury as they did before. They would therefore have a great disability (i.e. inability to earn the same money as before the injury) than the lawyer whose torn ligament had no effect on earnings. Oftentimes, the greater the disability, the greater the settlement value.
The value of your workers’ compensation case is also influenced by which body parts you hurt. South Carolina workers’ compensation laws assign a specific number of weeks to most body parts. For instance, the shoulder is worth 300 weeks, the leg 195 weeks, but the thumb only 65 weeks. A 10% disability to the shoulder would be worth 30 weeks of compensation. A 10% disability to the thumb would only be worth 6.5 weeks. Thus, an injury to the shoulder is likely to result in far greater compensation than an injury to the thumb or hand.
What do I mean by 30 weeks? I mean you would multiply 30 by the compensation rate. What is the compensation rate? It is simply the amount of your weekly check. But where does that number come from? Your compensation rate (i.e. weekly check) is based on 2/3 of your average weekly wage at the time of injury. If you were making $600 before taxes prior to injury, your compensation rate would be $400 because $400 is 2/3 of $600.
Your workers’ compensation settlement is also influenced by whether you need any future treatment, and whether or not you are closing your case forever. If the insurance company wants to “clincher” your case they should pay for it. A clincher agreement takes them off the hook for any future medical treatment made necessary by a change in condition. That is valuable and should not be given to them for free. Furthermore, if the doctor has said you need additional medical treatment to remain at MMI, and the insurance company wants to clincher your case, they should pay the costs of the medical treatment you may need down the road.
Speak With A South Carolina Workers' Comp Lawyer Today
South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws can be both confusing and frustrating. As a workers’ compensation lawyer based in Columbia, it is my privilege to help injured workers determine how much their case is worth, then fight to obtain a fair settlement for them. If you have questions or need help with your workers’ compensation case, request a free case evaluation and free copies of my books by calling 803-790-2800. You don’t have to take on the insurance company by yourself – I am here to help.
Workers' Compensation Client ReviewKenny has handled my worker's comp case with the utmost of integrity and honesty. He and his team have led me through a difficult time in my life after my work injury. They are always available to answer all my questions, and to keep me informed through the entire process. I have had complete confidence throughout my case that the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger has had my very best interest in mind. By ensuring that I got the best medical care available, and fair treatment from the insurance company, they have made this process as least stressful as possible. Please consider Kenny for any of your personal injury needs; he has earned my highest recommendation.Written by: William ScottLaw Office of Kenneth E. BergerDate published: 12/05/20155 / 5 starsOverall rating: ★★★★★ based on 41 reviews
How do health professionals determine the severity of a burn injury in South Carolina?
When you suffer a burn injury, the doctor is not going to treat your wound in the same manner as he would someone else's. Each burn is cared for depending on the severity. The medical field classifies burns under three broad categories:
A first-degree burn is the least serious type. Only the outer layer of skin has been affected. Your skin will usually be red and possibly swollen, and the burn itself will usually be slightly painful. In most cases, you can treat this burn like any minor burn and it's not likely that you will need to seek medical attention. If the burn is especially large or covers a portion of your face, hands, feet, buttocks, groin, or a major joint, you will probably want to go to the emergency room.
A second-degree burn is when the first and second layers of skin have been burned. This burn differs from a first-degree burn because blisters could develop, the skin may become very red and splotchy, and it will probably be very swollen and painful. However, like the first-degree burn, if it is not too large—three inches or less—you can probably treat it on your own at home. If your wound covers any areas we described under the first-degree burn, consider heading to the emergency room.
This is the most serious kind of burn and requires someone to call 911 immediately. A third-degree burn involves all layers of the skin and can cause permanent tissue damage. The burn area could look charred black or dry and white. An immediate emergency response is needed to assess the damage and take urgent action. Improperly treated third-degree burns can lead to loss of a limb or death.
If you are not sure what type of burn you have, don't be afraid to seek a medical professional's opinion. It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to burn injuries.
Contact a Columbia Burn Injury Attorney Today
If your burn injury was the result of another person's negligence, contact a Columbia burn injury lawyer at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger. You can call 803-790-2800 today to schedule your free consultation.
How can I tell if my loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident? He doesn’t seem quite the same.
You have good reason to be concerned about your loved one right now. Even when motorcyclists wear a helmet, they are still not immune to traumatic brain injuries from a crash.
Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to very severe, so if there's an indication someone you love may have brain damage, he needs to see a doctor right away. If the first doctor you see says that nothing is wrong, don't be afraid to get a second opinion—only you and your loved one can truly know that something doesn't seem right and needs to be fixed.
Symptoms of a Motorcycle Brain Injury
There are various symptoms that could be an indication that some sort of brain injury has occurred:
- Emotional Signs: Depression, anxiety, irritability, irrational anger, personality changes
- Physical and Behavioral Signs: Changes in sleeping (sleeping too long, not being able to sleep, not being able to wake up), dizziness, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness, blurred vision, ringing ears, sensitivity to light or sound, changes in appetite
- Cognitive Signs: Inability to concentration, memory loss, disorientation
This is not an exhaustive list, so even if your loved one has symptoms that are not here, you should still consider seeing a doctor. If it is determined that he does indeed have a TBI and it was caused by the negligence of another person, you are also going to want to contact a brain injury attorney in Columbia. Your attorney will help answer questions, deal with the insurance companies, and guide you toward justice.
Speak to a Columbia Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Today
Contact the Law Office of Kenneth Berger today for a free consultation at 803-790-2800.
How Can I figure Out if My Employer Has South Carolina Workers' Compensation Insurance?
The South Carolina workers' compensation system is complicated enough, but some employers make it even harder by ignoring the law. Some companies can be outwardly hostile, while others choose the passive route and attempt to avoid reporting your injury. This can be a sign that an employer who should be carrying workers' comp is not.
First, figure out if your employer is required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Under South Carolina law, an employer who regularly employs four or more people is required to have coverage. That does not mean it has to be the same four people all the time, but rather that the company generally has four or more individuals who could call themselves employees. Exceptions to this rule may include the agricultural, railroad, and real estate industries.
If you believe that your employer is obligated to carry a workers' compensation policy, and are afraid the company might not have it, you can check the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission's website. This site allows you to determine whether the business has coverage. If you have any trouble navigating that site, call my office and we will help you over the phone.
Likewise, many employees who are hurt on the job benefit from having a lawyer guide them through their claim. When you hire a workers' comp attorney, much of your stress and uncertainty should be removed, as you now have someone to protect your rights. Rather than having to worry over legal issues, you are allowed to focus on getting well and moving forward.
For answers and guidance, contact my Columbia office at (803) 790-2800. I am here to help.