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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Should I Receive Money for Pain and Suffering Under South Carolina's Workers' Compensation Laws?
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.
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 lead to a better settlement at the end of your case.
Insurance adjusters and nurse case managers cannot 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have questions about the compensation 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.
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.
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.
Unlike the insurance company – or even the doctor – 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. Email or call me today at (803) 790-2800. 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.
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 pre and 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.
In sum, 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.
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.
In cases of severe, life-altering brain injuries, an injured worker may be entitled to 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.
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).
If you have questions about workers' comp or the benefits you should be receiving, call my Columbia office at 803-790-2800. 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?
Many people fear they will get fired if they pursue a workers’ compensation case in South Carolina. Other people are concerned that 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. First, you cannot be legally terminated as punishment for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Second, the law 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" while you are out on workers’ comp, they will have to provide you with weekly checks until a doctor releases you from his/her care.
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.
Can I Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits in South Carolina if I Fail My Drug Test?
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 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. Everything we discuss will be 100% confidential.
Do I Need A Lawyer to Settle My South Carolina Workers' Compensation Case?
It depends. Minor work injuries that require minimal treatment, and do not prevent you from working, should not require a lawyer. Likewise, if the insurance company is paying your medical bills, authorizing necessary medical care, sending checks in a timely fashion, and offering to fairly compensate you for any impairment or effect on future earnings, a lawyer might not be necessary.
However, when the insurance company drags its feet, refuses to send you to the proper doctor, or fights to pay you less than the law entitles you to, then you should at least consulting a South Carolina workers' comp attorney.
I do not represent people unless I think they will benefit from my knowledge and skills. Even if I turn down your case, I will gladly take a few minutes to answer your questions at no charge. Call me today at (803) 790-2800 or request a free copy of my book, Your Guide to South Carolina Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation.
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Workers' Comp Claim in SC?
South Carolina law prohibits an employer from firing you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. 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.
Nonetheless, your company is allowed to let you go if you are physically unable to perform the job. In these instances, you would begin receiving a weekly workers’ compensation check 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.”
South Carolina law does not tolerate companies punishing employees simply for being hurt on the job. You have rights, and I will work hard to protect them. If you were fired after filing a workers’ comp claim, or if you believe you are being “targeted” by your employer, call me today at (803) 790-2800.