Get Answers to These FAQs We Hear the Most
We know how many questions you must have right now about your 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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Can I Sue Workers' Comp for Pain and Suffering in South Carolina?
Pain and suffering - along with financial anxiety - often result from on the job injuries. And while you should receive medical care, payment for time missed from work, mileage reimbursements, and compensation for any permanent disability, South Carolina's workers' comp laws do not allow money for any of your other losses. In other words, workers' comp does not pay for pain and suffering....at least not directly.
Beyond Pain and Suffering in a Workers' Comp Case
However, your physical pain is an indication that you may require additional medical treatment or that you may be suffering from a permanent injury. Workers' compensation cases are often decided by the medical records. It is, therefore, critical that you tell your doctors and therapists about every issue caused by the work injury. So long as the medical providers know that you are in pain, struggling with lost range of motion, and unable to perform the same duties as before the accident - yet doing your best to recover - the medical records ought to provide the evidence necessary to achieve a fair financial result. You should never exaggerate your pain levels or limitations, but you must be honest and thorough when the doctor asks, "How are you doing?" In this way, workers' comp will not provide direct payment for your pain and suffering, though your ailments will make their way into the medical charts, which in turn leads to a better workers comp' settlement at the end of your case.
We Can Answer Your Workers Comp Questions
Insurance adjusters and nurse case managers cannot always be trusted. Rather than listening to them when it comes to questions regarding how much money you should received from your claim, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney for a free case evaluation, as well as free books written for injured South Carolinians. You can reach me today at 803-790-2800 or by using the live chat box in the corner below.
Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help with My Workers' Compensation Case?
I get frustrated when I see lawyers in South Carolina advertise for cases they do not have much experience handling. For instance, many lawyer websites make it sound like someone who devotes 95% of their practice to personal injury cases is more qualified to help with your workers' compensation case than an attorney with years of experience helping injured workers.
Attorneys Can Handle Workers' Comp and Personal Injury Claims
So, can a personal injury attorney represent you in a workers' compensation claim? Absolutely - in fact there are many practices (mine included) that actually handle both types of cases on a regular basis. The term "personal injury" includes actions arising from car wrecks, nursing home abuse, premises liability, and really any type of case involving harm caused by someone else's negligence.
However, workers' compensation is a separate area of law that is limited to on the job injuries. In some instances, an attorney may actually be able to help you with two cases arising out of the same incident. For example, if you got in a auto accident while at work, we could represent you in your workers' comp claim, and also file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your crash.
In sum, the answer to this question is "yes," but make sure you ask the attorney how much experience they have in both areas of law. Every injured person has the right to a qualified lawyer. Therefore, ask the lawyer not only about their experience, but also results they have obtained and what former clients say about them.
Call Our South Carolina Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
To find out more about our personal injury and workers' compensation firm, call my Columbia, SC office at 803-790-2800 for free copies of my books as well as a free consultation. We have helped many injured workers and we look forward to being able to serve you as well.
What is My Impairment Rating Based On?
In South Carolina, the treating doctor will issue an impairment rating when you reach what is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). Under our state's workers' compensation laws, the impairment rating is critical in determining the value of your case.
4 Factors Affecting Your Impairment Rating
Your rating is based on factors such as:
- Whether you underwent surgery;
- Loss of strength;
- Decreased range of motion; and
- Pain levels.
For instance, a shoulder surgery may leave you unable to lift, carry, or pull as much weight as before your injury. Likewise, you may not be able to extend your arms above your head due to the operation. Thus, even though the surgery may have been a success, you are still "impaired" with regard to the use and function of a specific body part.
Questions About Your Impairment Rating? A Workers' Comp Lawyer Can Help
Doctors should issue impairment ratings in accordance with guidelines handed down by the American Medical Association. Your doctor should also put you through a series of strength and flexibility tests before issuing a rating. If you have questions about the accuracy of your impairment rating or some aspect of workers' compensation in South Carolina, learn your rights. For a free case evaluation, call me today at (803) 790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat box below.
In South Carolina, Does Workers' Comp Pay For the Costs of My Future Medical Treatment?
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law requires the insurance company to provide payment for the costs of future medical treatment arising from your on the job injury. When your treating doctor concludes that you are not getting any better or any worse, but have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), he/she will give an opinion as to whether or not you need additional treatment. Oftentimes, the doctor’s opinion as to future medical care is listed on his/her progress note or release to work form. In other instances, the treating doctor will complete what is known as a Form 14-B, on which the doctor will state whether you have additional medical needs. For example, your doctor may say you need further injections, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, or even surgery.
Payment Options For Future Medical Treatment After Work Injury
Your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier then has a decision to make. They can “leave the medicals open” and pay for your future treatment as needed, or they can “clincher” your claim. A clincher agreement means that instead of paying for future doctors’ visits and treatment, the insurance carrier pays you more money up front. In return for paying you more money on the front end, they get to close (i.e. clincher) the case.
Injured workers with health insurance, and whose medical needs are relatively limited, often choose to clincher their claim and get more money on the front end. Conversely, injured workers who do not have health insurance, and may require significant future care, probably benefit from leaving the medicals open and allowing the workers’ compensation carrier to pay for their treatment.
Call Us Today About Your Workers' Comp Benefits Questions
If you have questions about the workers' compensation benefits you should receive for future medical costs arising from a South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, I am here to help. Call us today at (803) 790-2800 or use the live chat box below to contact us now.
Can I Receive Workers' Comp for Carpal Tunnel in South Carolina?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is often the result of repetitive trauma. In South Carolina, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if we establish that it is related to your job. For instance, a machine operator and administrative workers often perform the same function over and over. Whether it is testing a product, making sure a machine is functioning properly, or using a keyboard for hours on end, the repetitive trauma to your hands, wrist, and elbow can result in CTS. Some doctors take the position that keyboard use does not cause CTS. I believe those doctors are wrong.
You Must Report CTS to Receive Workers' Comp Benefits
If you think that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is related to your work duties, you must report the injury to your employer within 90 days. More specifically, you only have 90 days from the time you first believe your pain to be work- related to report the pain/injury to a supervisor. If you do not meet this notice requirement, you cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits even if a doctor relates CTS to your work duties.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Workers Comp Claim for Carpal Tunnel
If you are facing resistance from your employer about your workers comp claim, my firm is here to help you recover workers’ compensation benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Be it a free consultation, a free copy of my books, or representing your interests and protecting your rights, please know that if you have questions, I am here to answer them. Call me today at (803) 790-2800 or contact us using the live chat box below. While our office is in Columbia, South Carolina, we handle workers’ compensation cases across the state.
Do I Continue to Receive My SC Workers' Comp Check After the Doctor Releases Me to Light Duty?
When a doctor releases an injured worker in South Carolina to light duty, the employer is given the opportunity to accommodate the physical restrictions. However, if the employer cannot offer light duty work within the prescribed restrictions, the employee will continue receiving a weekly workers' compensation check.
For instance, if you underwent shoulder surgery and have been released to light duty with a restriction of no lifting greater than 5 pounds, your employer may either provide light duty work or allow you to continue receiving a weekly check for 2/3s the amount of your previous pre-tax wages.
Reduced Light Duty Wages After Work Injury
In many cases, someone will return to light duty, yet not make as much money as they did before the injury. When this happens, you are entitled to 2/3s of the difference between your wages before the accident and your post-accident wages. This situation may arise due to a reduction in your number of hours (e.g. no overtime) or a decrease in your hourly pay. Regardless of the circumstances, you should receive a weekly check for 2/3s of the difference in earnings.
Should your employer be able to accommodate the physical restrictions your doctor prescribed, you are required to return to work or risk forfeiting your workers' compensation benefits. Most injured people grow tired of being out of work and look forward to returning to their job.
Call a SC Workers' Comp Lawyer to Protect Your Legal Rights
South Carolina's workers' compensation laws are nuanced. When it comes to protecting your health and your rights, you do not have to take on the company, their insurance carrier, or the workers' comp commission by yourself. If your doctor has placed you on light duty, and you have questions about your South Carolina workers' compensation benefits, I am here to help. Call me today at 803-790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat option box below.
How Much Money Should Workers' Comp Pay You for an On the Job Brain Injury in South Carolina?
On the job brain injuries are a common occurrence in Columbia and other parts of South Carolina. When an employee sustains a head injury, the first concern is proper medical treatment and payment for time missed from work. Employees and their families also want to know how much money they should receive from workers' compensation at the end of the case.
If Your Brain Injury Prevents You From Working...
In cases of severe, life-altering brain injuries, an injured worker may be entitled to workers comp benefits for the rest of his or her life. Put differently, if the traumatic brain injury (TBI) will prevent the individual from ever working again, the workers' compensation insurance company will likely have to provide lifetime benefits.
If You're Able to Return to Work After Your Brain Injury...
In cases where an employee sustains a head injury at work, but will be able to return to the job in a matter of weeks or months, the insurance company will still be responsible for all medical treatment related to the TBI, though the amount of compensation they have to pay for any permanent injury to the brain will be between 0-250 weeks (i.e. up to 250 x the amount of your weekly workers' compensation check).
A Workers' Comp Attorney Can Help Answer Your Questions
If you have questions about workers' comp or the benefits you should be receiving, call my Columbia personal injury firm at 803-790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat box below. I handle brain injury cases throughout South Carolina, and would be honored to answer your questions.
What Happens if My Company Terminates Me While I am Out on Workers' Comp in South Carolina?
You Cannot Be Fired for Filing a Workers' Comp Claim in SC
Many people fear they will get fired if they pursue a workers’ compensation case in South Carolina. Other people are concerned their boss will simply "let them go" if they can’t work because of the injury. In either situation, South Carolina law protects your rights. You cannot be legally terminated as punishment for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. If an employer wrongfully terminated someone on this basis, they would be liable not only for the workers’ compensation claim, but also for a civil lawsuit. Even though South Carolina is a “right to work” state, you cannot be punished for lawfully seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Collecting Workers Compensation Checks After Being Let Go
South Carolina law also states that your employer must either accommodate your physical restrictions or provide you a weekly check should the work injury prevent you from performing full duty. If a doctor puts physical restrictions on you (i.e. places you on light duty), your boss can either comply with the restrictions or have their insurance company send you a weekly check.
In the event your company "let’s you go" because you are physically unable to perform your job while out on workers’ comp, they will have to provide you with weekly checks until a doctor releases you from his/her care. In these instances, you would begin receiving a weekly workers’ compensation check, or temporary total disability (TTD) payments, equal to 2/3s of your pre-tax earnings. For instance, if you grossed $750 weekly before you got hurt, you would receive a $500 check every week from the time you were fired until a doctor placed you at what is known as “maximum medical improvement.”
Your Benefits Continue Even If Your Boss Fires You
In sum, please know that your workers' compensation benefits continue even if your boss fires you during the pendency of your claim. With that said, I strongly encourage you to be a model employee. You do not want to give your employer any excuse to let you go, or any evidence of insubordination. Should you have other questions about your rights under South Carolina's workers’ compensation system, call me at (803) 790-2800 or start a live chat using the chat box below.
Can I Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits in South Carolina if I Fail My Drug Test?
A Positive Drug Test Will Not Prevent You From Receiving Workers' Comp Benefits
Workers’ compensation in South Carolina does not factor in negligence - be it on the part of the employee or the employer. In other words, even if the on the job injury was a result of the employee’s negligence, the employee may still be eligible for benefits. Likewise, a positive drug test will not prevent you from receiving workers' compensation benefits unless the employer can prove that you were intoxicated and that your intoxication caused your accident.
For example, a construction worker may have smoked marijuana on Saturday then fallen off a roof on Tuesday. His drug test may come back positive. However, the employer would have the burden of proving that the marijuana the construction worker smoked on Saturday caused him to fall off the roof three days later. While your company might rightfully fire someone for a positive drug test, they cannot dismiss your workers' comp claim without proving that your injury was due to intoxication.
Call a Workers' Comp Attorney to Protect Your Rights in South Carolina
Though we in no way condone drug use, we are here to protect injured workers' rights. If your employer told you that you were ineligible for South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits because of a failed drug test, call me today at (803) 790-2800 or contact us by using the live chat box below. Everything we discuss will be 100% confidential.
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.
Determining 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. Berger5 / 5 starsOverall rating: ★★★★★