Frequently Asked Questions About Greenville, SC Workers’ Comp Claims

If you have been injured on the job in Greenville, South Carolina, it’s natural to be a little overwhelmed and confused about the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim and getting the medical and wage benefits that you need. Each case and claim is different, so you may need to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney from the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm to get answers to questions that are directly related  to your situation. For answers to the general questions that apply to all claims for workers’ compensation in Greenville, SC, read on.

What Steps Are Involved in Reporting a Work Related Injury or Illness?

This is an important question because failing to report your work related injury or illness correctly could harm your workers’ compensation claim and leave you without any benefits. Further, although it is a frequently asked question, it may not be asked frequently enough. Many people assume that if they told their employer about the injury, that is sufficient.

If your employer is ethical and has your best interests at heart, then this could be enough, because your employer will guide you through filling out an incident report and will report the injury right away. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure that you provide notice of the incident and injury to your employer in writing, with the date included.

This will later serve as evidence of when the incident occurred and the fact that you did report it in a timely manner. You technically have 90 days to report the injury or illness, but delaying will still make it much easier for your employer or their insurance company to argue that your injury is not work related, and thus, your claim could be denied.

How Can a Worker File a Workers’ Comp Claim Without the Employer’s Help?

In cases where your employer will not acknowledge or report your injury to their workers’ compensation insurance and the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission, you will have to start the claim by yourself. Fortunately, this is not difficult to do. All you need to do is download the appropriate forms from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission website, or contact the Commission directly to request the forms.

You will start with the Employee’s Notice of Claim and/or Request for Hearing form (Form 50), and check the box that says “I am filing a claim. I am not requesting a hearing at this time.”  If you are filing on behalf of a loved one who passed away from a work related injury, you will need to download the Employee’s Notice of Claim and/or Request for Hearing, Death Case form (Form 52). Again, you will indicate that you are filing a claim, but not requesting a hearing.

You will need to file your claim within two years of the incident, the death, or the onset of symptoms, though the sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be.

Where Can a Worker Go to Seek Medical Treatment for Injuries?

Your employer should have a list of company and insurance approved physicians for you to choose from. You must choose one of these physicians to have your medical expenses covered. The only exception is when you have an injury that requires urgent medical treatment. In these cases, you can go straight to the ER that is closest to your location, and your workers’ compensation medical benefits will cover this. After the emergency medical treatment, you will need to choose an approved physician for all ongoing care.

When Can a Worker Start Receiving Wage Benefits?

Workers in Greenville, South Carolina who have been injured on the job and are unable to return to work can expect to start receiving benefits after seven missed days. The first seven days will not be compensated unless you have to miss another seven days of work (14 total). In cases where you do not have to miss any work, or miss less than seven days, you will not receive wage benefits. However, if you do not have to miss seven days of work, but are restricted to light duty work that pays less than your former average weekly wage, you can begin receiving wage benefits for the difference in pay after seven days on the light duty position.

Can a Worker Receive The Full Amount of Their Lost Income in Wage Benefits?

Unfortunately, you will not receive the full amount of lost income in wage benefits. Rather, you will receive wage compensation at 2/3 the value of your average weekly wages. In cases where you are on lower paying light duty work, your wage benefits will be 2/3 the difference between your old average weekly wage and your new average weekly wage.

Can a Worker Get Benefits for Their Mileage To and From Medical Appointments? 

This question is also quite common because injured workers are often unable to drive and unable to afford to pay someone to help them commute to and from appointments. Then, there are the cases where the injured worker has to travel such a long distance to the approved physician’s office that it becomes a strain on their already challenging financial situation. For this reason, you can request benefits for your mileage as long as your round trip is greater than ten miles. Mileage for workers’ compensation patients is compensated at the same rate as the mileage for state government workers. Simply report the mileage to the workers’ compensation insurance company that is providing your benefits.

What is a Workers’ Compensation Hearing For?

When filing Form 50 or Form 52 to initiate your worker’s compensation claim, you check the box that says that you are filing a claim and not requesting a hearing. This begs the common question of what circumstances would require you to check the other box, the one that says that you are requesting a hearing and what the hearing is for.

A workers’ compensation hearing is something that you’ll only need if your claim is denied, if you don’t get the benefits you’re entitled to, or if you disagree with your physician’s assessment of your health and restrictions. You’ll request a hearing with the same type of form that you used to initiate the claim, and you must include a $25 fee when you submit the form. Your hearing will be scheduled, and you will be able to argue your case. If you need to do this, contact a determined workers’ compensation attorney in Greenville at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for guidance and representation through the process.

Has Your Loved One Suffered From Abuse or Neglect in a Nursing Home Facility?

When you have a loved one in a nursing home facility, it is typically because the patient is no longer able to care for themselves. They have come to require the care and attention of the staff for their basic needs on a daily basis. Yet, far too many will become victims of abuse and neglect in their nursing homes. In fact, this is such a frequent occurrence that research has been done to identify the causes, and there are many advocating for effective solutions to this problem.

Why Are There So Many Cases of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Patients in nursing home facilities are vulnerable to abuse and neglect for many reasons. They are more likely to suffer from medical issues that prevent them from protecting themselves, from communicating their needs, and from telling anyone what is happening. They may suffer from issues like dementia, and they be isolated from others. In some cases, victims of nursing home abuse are capable of telling someone, but are too afraid or embarrassed to do so.

Other contributors to the high frequency of nursing home abuse and neglect cases include the lack of training and qualification of staff members, the common issue of understaffing, the lack of screening of staff members who may have a history of violent crimes, and the lack of supervision of staff members who wind up with complete control over a patient’s wellbeing.

What Can You Do To Stop Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

If you have a friend or relative in a nursing home, then there is a lot that you can do to confront the widespread problem of nursing home abuse and neglect. Primarily, you can ensure that your loved ones are not isolated by visiting them as frequently as possible.

Many people don’t do this enough, for a variety of reasons. They may feel sad or guilty because their loved one is in a nursing home, perhaps because they themselves could not provide the care that is required. They may simply assume that their loved one is being properly cared for.

Some people feel too emotional at seeing their loved one in bad health, especially in cases where the loved one has developed a condition like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and can no longer recognize them. This is also true in cases where a loved one has a terminal condition. Nobody wants to watch someone that they care for go through such trials.

No matter what the reasons are, there is no just cause for leaving your loved one to face the challenges of aging and ill health alone. No matter how difficult it may be for you to deal with these issues, you must take the time to visit your loved one and make sure that they are properly cared for and not suffering from abuse or neglect. If you do notice the signs of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, you must take action. Do not write anything off as a onetime event or an accident without looking further into it.

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Because nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms, there are many different signs that you should be on the lookout for. You should not simply wait for something obvious to happen, and assume the best until it does. Rather, you should actively look for the indications that your loved one might be neglected or abused.

For instance, you might not notice bed sores and infections if you don’t look for them. These occur when your loved one is neglected, not moved frequently, and not cared for properly. They may be found on the patients’ back, legs, and bottom, for example. You also need to watch for signs of malnutrition and dehydration. Common signs include unexplained weight loss, dry skin, and expressions of hunger or thirst. Even if your loved one is not communicative, you might notice that they are eagerly consuming any food or drink that you offer.

It is also important to be aware of the causes of any falls and broken bones. Although the elderly may be more prone to falling down, this does not mean that it is okay for this to happen. The staff at the nursing home should be there to assist your loved one and prevent falls.

You can also keep an eye out for any indications that your loved one is being chemically restrained. This means that the staff are using medications inappropriately to keep the patient immobile. There are also cases where the staff does not provide necessary medications, and you may notice symptoms of issues that were previously controlled by such medications.

Finally, pay attention to your loved ones words and behaviors. If they are able to communicate, then you can talk to them about their experiences and how they feel. Even if they cannot communicate, you can pay attention to their mood and demeanor. Do they seem depressed, anxious, or fearful? These could be indications of neglect or physical or emotional abuse.

What Can You Do When You See Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

If you notice any indications that nursing home abuse or neglect are occurring in the facility where your loved one resides, even if it seems to involve an entirely different patient, and even if you aren’t completely sure that it is occurring, you can do something about it. You can contact the police and speak to an attorney so that the situation can be investigated.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, you may be able to recover compensation for your loved one, and the facility may be shut down and may even face criminal charges. Call the experienced Spartanburg nursing home neglect attorneys at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss the unique circumstances surrounding the case of abuse or neglect for your loved one and learn more about what you can do to seek justice and recover compensation.

Top Tips For Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

Motorcycles are among the most dangerous forms of transportation, yet this does not detract from the appeal of the freedom, speed, and joy of riding your bike on the open road. If anything, it may add to the rush of endorphins that bikers feel when they ride their motorcycles. For many people, owning and riding a motorcycle is not just a pastime or even their favorite way to get around town. Rather, it is their lifestyle and their passion. Still, it’s not something that you want to die for. In fact, most bikers understand and promote the need for safety precautions and advocate for the safety of themselves and their fellow bikers on the road.

This includes educating other motorists on safely sharing the road with motorcycles and educating bikers on how to keep themselves safe from accidents and injuries. The reason that it is so important to promote safety for bikers is because you are six times more likely than other motorists to be seriously injured in an accident while riding a motorcycle and 27 times more likely than other motorists to be killed in such an accident. Whether you are an experienced biker or just getting acquainted with your first motorcycle, the following tips are for you.

Preventing Motorcycle Accidents By Improving Visibility 

To begin with, one of the best ways to prevent motorcycle accidents altogether is to improve your visibility. This is because the most frequent cause of motorcycle accidents with other vehicles is the fact that other drivers often do not even notice bikers on the road. They may be paying attention to traffic, but they are generally focused on other motor vehicles, and are less likely to anticipate or observe the presence of a motorcycle. Thus, it essential for bikers to do everything they can to improve their visibility on the road. It is equally important for other drivers to learn to watch out for bikers, though you cannot anticipate whether or not the other motorists on the roads your traveling will be looking out for you.

To improve your visibility on the road as a biker, you should try to wear bright colors. This doesn’t mean that you have to entirely sacrifice your style, but you should make an effort to include some highly visible elements in your wardrobe and safety gear. This could include a brightly colored jacket or helmet, for example.

It is also a good idea to look for bright colors when you purchase your motorcycle or when painting it a new color. Colors like bright yellow and bright orange are the most visible options and can make other drivers immediately aware of you. You can even use bright and reflective tape on your rims, your helmet, or your jacket, to help you stand out.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most vehicles have blind spots, where the driver may not be able to see you at all. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, and it is very easy to end up in someone’s blind spot without realizing it, if you aren’t looking out for this. If you have to pass someone, you should try do so as quickly as you can, and do your best to remain visible to other drivers at all times. If you find yourself in a blind spot, move to a more visible position.

Another helpful tip to improve visibility is to make use of the lights on your motorcycle, especially when driving at night. This includes your brake lights, which will blink if you tap the brakes, and will draw attention to you while also communicating with others on the road. You can use your high beams to increase visibility, even during the daytime. Some bikers will also add additional lights to their motorcycles, making it easier for other drivers to see them and accurately judge how close or far away they are.

Finally, if you notice that another driver is distracted, not paying attention, or doesn’t seem to be aware of you, you can always honk your horn. This will make other motorists immediately aware of your presence and hopefully more attentive to you and other on the road.

Other Ways That You Can Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

Beyond improving visibility, there are plenty of other things that you can do to increase safety when riding a motorcycle. For starters, any biker who is new to motorcycles should complete a motorcycle rider education class that is approved by the state, and to practice in open areas, like parking lots. This is also wise to take time to practice with a new bike, even if you are experienced. Different motorcycles may handle differently, and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a new bike before you head out on the road. It is also important to make sure that your motorcycle is well maintained, and to inspect it before each ride. For instance, you need to make sure that the brakes, signals, and headlights are all working. You should also double check that the tire pressure and fluid levels are good and that the gas tank is filled.

Just like other motorists, you should never operate a motorcycle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medications with potentially hazardous side effects. Driving defensively is another important element of keeping yourself safe, and it requires you to keep a careful eye on other drivers and make efforts to avoid accidents with those who might cause them. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, give others plenty of room, and again, stay out of blind spots.

Minimizing the Likelihood of Serious Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts and safety precautions, accidents will happen. This is where it becomes important to ensure that your safety precautions include adequate protection in case of an accident. For instance, you should never ride without a helmet, and you need to make sure that the helmet is truly safe and effective at protecting your head. This means that the helmet should have a DOT symbol to indicate that it meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards of the US Department of Transportation.

You should also protect your arms, legs, hands, ankles, feet, and hands. All of these parts should be covered entirely when you ride. You can protect your arms and legs with heavy denim and/or leather. You can protect your hands with thick riding gloves. You can protect your feet and your ankles with heavy boots that fit well and are high enough to cover your ankles.

Contact an Attorney When Motorcycle Accident Injuries Occur

If you do end up in an accident while driving your motorcycle, you should contact the police and emergency medical assistance, as needed. Motorcycle accidents can be especially devastating, so you need to get medical care right away. Even if you are fortunate enough to walk away from the accident without any urgent injuries, you should still seek a full medical evaluation to ensure that you have not missed any injuries in the adrenaline rush that follows an accident. Then, contact the skilled motorcycle accident injury attorneys in Greenville at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for a free consultation and advice on recovering compensation for your injuries.

Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries and Ways to Prevent them

A list of the top ten accidents resulting in workers’ compensation claims was released by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety stating what accidents are most common and avoidable in the workplace. This research helps employers to be aware of the potential for these accidents as well as ways to avoid them. This article will go over those accidents and ways to help prevent them.

Overexertion

Overexertion can occur when an employee injures themselves by doing a job outside of their own physical limits. Improper lifting techniques, attempting to lift or move objects that are extremely heavy, or stretching too far while reaching for something are all examples of overexertion.

A few ways to prevent this are:

  • Train your employees in the proper techniques for lifting items
  • Use team lifting techniques or allow your employees to equipment that will assist in lifting excessively heavy objects
  • Have employees use ladders or other tools to help reach things that are out of reach

Slip and Fall

Slip and fall claims are usually due to negligence. Wet floors, oil, snow, and ice can create slick surfaces that may cause an individual to lose balance, fall, and become injured. These are usually common claims against restaurants, grocery stores, and other business with water and other liquids that could potentially cause a fall are prevalent.

Some preventative measure you can take:

  • Make sure when a spill happens place warnings (wet floor signs, caution cones, etc.) around the affected area;
  • Clean up the spill immediately;
  • If it is a maintenance issue, limit access to the area until it is repaired;
  • In the event of snow and ice, make sure sidewalks and other surfaces affected are properly salted.

Falls to lower levels

When working above the ground floor of an establishment, employees have a risk of falling to lower levels of the establishment. Falling down stairwells, off construction scaffolding, and other areas off the ground are examples of this type of accident.

These types of accidents are a little harder to prevent, but these suggestions should be kept in mind:

  • Make sure employees working in elevated areas are equipped with proper safety equipment;
  • Keep stairs and elevators well maintained; and
  • Close off areas that may increase the risk of one of these falls until they are properly repaired.

Bodily Reactions

A bodily reaction injury is an injury that were incurred while trying to avoid another accident. For example, overexerting oneself and straining a muscle while trying to avoid being injured by a heavy object falling or straining one’s back while attempting to avoid a slip on an oily surface.

These types of injuries are technically unavoidable because they occurred in the process of avoiding a worse injury. The only way to help prevent them is by trying to prevent other accidents first.

Struck by Objects

Being struck by object can happen to one from a construction worker being hit by a steel beam to an object falling off a shelf on to an employee in a retail store These accidents can happen in any work environment. This can even include one employee dropping an object onto another employee causing injuries.

To minimize the risk of this occurring:

  • Make sure objects that are high up are properly fastened, or that the right tools are available to access them;
  • On construction site, make sure that employees keep safe distances from large objects that are being moved; and
  • Ensure employees are following proper safety precautions when handling objects that could injure another worker.

Struck against Objects

In some cases, and employee may fall or be forced into a stationary object hard enough to cause injury. This is like bodily reactions, in that most preventative measures are by attempting to prevent other accidents. Clearing trip hazards as well as informing employees of dangerous areas that could cause them to be pinned or forced into an object is the best course of action.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Accidents that happen on the road while in the process of conducting company business fall into this category. Officers, representatives for businesses, and commercial drivers are at most risk for suffering this kind of accident.

Preventative measure that can be taken would be:

  • Ensure the employee has a good driving record
  • Train your employees in proper driving expectations
  • Keep company vehicles well maintained

Machinery Accidents

Machinery accidents usually only occur in manufacturing and construction jobs. These are not as common as the others, but due to the level of injury one can receive if it happens, it should be taken very seriously.

To prevent this, make sure:

  • Employees are properly trained on the equipment and how to shut it down if an accident occurs;
  • The machinery is properly maintained and working in a safe manner; and
  • Employees operating the machine are not fatigued or overly tired.

Repetitive Motion

Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, as well as many other injuries that occur from long-term repetitive motion fall into this category. This has become more common with the increase in jobs requiring computers.

This is also a hard incident to prevent because these injuries develop over time, but by making sure employees take breaks and rest their body, and equip them with ergonomic supplies may help to reduce the likelihood of a claim.

Workplace Violence

This includes violent acts from disgruntled employees, but also acts of violence committed by robbers or other individuals who are not employed. These occur more commonly in jobs that handle a lot of cash transactions, such as food service and gas stations.

Prevention of these types of injuries can be done by:

  • Ensure your business has proper security for the level of risk;
  • Train employees to comply with violent individuals to avoid injury; and
  • In the case of disgruntled workers, look for signs of potentially violent action, and try to mediate and de-escalate situations

There is no way you can ensure that an accident will never happen, but you can do everything, within reason, to try to prevent them. If you are still injured on the job, contact a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenville to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

How Common Is Workers’ Compensation Fraud in South Carolina?

What Constitutes Workers’ Compensation Fraud?

Workers’ compensation fraud is that act of an individual knowingly and willingly falsifying a claim of injury to take advantage of insurance coverage or benefits from their employer. To make a conviction, there must be evidence that concealment or misrepresentation has occurred intentionally on the part of the individual who filed the claim.

The Most Common Forms of Workers’ Compensation Fraud: Advantage and Premium

When someone has won a worker’s compensation settlement and is working an undocumented full-time job, but is not supposed to work due to their injuries, they are committing what is called advantage fraud. In these instances, a lawyer or healthcare provider may have also taken part in this scheme by double billing or billing for services that were not given.

Premium fraud can occur when a worker misrepresents their wages, their position in the company, or tries to avoid certain insurance risk modifiers that might reduce the amount that workers’ compensation will pay.

An insurance provider will investigate the claims and note any signs that there has been intentionally falsified information submitted. These indicators do not mean that fraud has occurred, but it will lead to a deeper investigation into the claim. Some signs of this type of fraud are:

  • Wrong categorization codes;
  • Duties that are not normally related to the position or unusually high pay for position;
  • No witnesses to the incident;
  • Injuries happening early on Monday or late on Friday;
  • Claims made a week or more after the incident;
  • Injury before a strike or vacation;
  • Injuries that occur when there is an expectation of termination.

Some practical examples of fraud are:

  • A secretary that files a workers’ compensation claim for an injury caused by lifting an unusually heavy object, while other witnesses’ stories do not match with the report;
  • The worker making the claim has a history of worker’s compensation claims;
  • A diagnosis from a doctor that does not coincide with the worker’s claim;
  • Any evidence that the individual is working another job while still drawing benefits from their claim.

Some signs that could mean a lawyer or a doctor is involved in the fraud could be:

  • Benefits or advantages being offered to the business;
  • Bills from attorneys, doctors, or insurers that unwarranted, seem to be fraudulent, or appear to be copies of previously submitted documents;
  • Doctor’s visits that occurred during vacation time or were not for emergency treatment;
  • Bills from lawyers or healthcare professionals that indicate an unreasonable amount of time for treatment;
  • Unusual relationships between the medical professional and the lawyer when managing workers’ compensation cases.

Steps to Take to avoid false Workers’ comp claims 

As an employer, it is a critical part of your job to ensure that your staff is both efficient and productive, but it is equally as important to create a safe and secure environment for them. In the event of a workplace accident, it is important to care for and aid an employee who has been injured. Sadly, this type of compassion can be taken advantage of in the case of workers’ compensation fraud. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to help prevent employees from exploiting their employer.

Regardless of an employee’s position in a company or the type of job they are performing, there is always risk for workplace injury. Because of this, there is a chance that any employee could try to take advantage of this system. Here are some steps that can help to prevent scams from happening:

  • Require your staff to take security and safety training in regards to their job. This can help your employees be more aware of the validity of a workers’ compensation claim, but it will help to prevent accidents in general.
  • Have equipment easily available that will help with physically strenuous jobs. Make sure your staff is aware of this equipment and insist upon them using it to avoid any personal injury. By having this equipment, you reduce the likelihood of injury and the chances that someone will be able to make a fraudulent claim.
  • Inform your staff of the negative effects that can occur from workers’ compensations scams. By explaining how productivity and even jobs could be affected, employees will be more likely try and prevent accidents, and will be more willing to come forward if they know another employee has made a false claim.

By doing these few things you can effectively reduce the chances of mishaps and accidents on the job. These steps can prevent the number of false workers’ compensation claims being filed. In the instance that you do receive a claim that seems to be fabricated, it is of the utmost importance that you find proper legal representation to protect not only yourself, but also your business.

How the Insurance Company Can Assist in Uncovering Fraud

Your insurance agent, with the assistance of their firm’s underwriter, will determine what categorization codes an employee’s position falls in and other risk points to be aware of when determining your premium rates. There have been cases where certain mistakes or oversights have been found in these kinds of policies. So, take time to thoroughly review the policy, preferably with and skilled expert in insurance policy. Just accepting the policy without further review could end up costing you a lot of time and money, which no employer wants to lose.

If your company employs independent contractors, you need to even more diligent in choosing the right policy. If the policy you have does not cover independent contractors, and they end up being injured while on the job, your company will most likely be responsible for 100% of the compensation the injured party is owed.

Conclusion 

When a workers’ compensation claim comes across your desk remember to look for any signs of fraud. Even if you happen to find signs that fraud might be occurring, keep an open mind and treat the injured party with compassion. However, you should contact the insurance company as soon as possible to ask them to send in an investigator to examine the situation. It is common for an insurance provider to send out an investigator regardless of signs of fraud to protect their own interests, but your request could speed up their investigation.

Be fair, but also be cautious with any claims that involve you or your company. Attempt using preventative education and equipment, be aware of the insurance policy in use, and have proper representation. Following these simple steps can keep you, your business, and your employees safe and secure. Call our determined Greenville, SC work injury claim attorneys today for help with your claim!

Wrongful Death Suits in South Carolina

Losing a loved one is difficult enough, losing them due to the negligence of another person can be even worse. Wrongful death suits are taken when a person dies or is killed by another person’s actions and criminal action is either not taken or attempted. These cases are meant to ensure that the loved ones of the deceased are financially compensated.

How is “Wrongful Death” defined in South Carolina?

Wrongful death is defined by South Carolina Code of Laws section 15-51-10 as a death that has occurred by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person. For the death to be eligible for a wrongful death suit, the cause must have been one that would have been able to be filed as a personal injury claim had the individual survived. Also, these cases would by usual means be a criminal trial, but no criminal action was taken or attempted.

Basically a wrongful death suit is a personal injury case in which the person who would have been injured is unable to make a claim because they have died from those injuries. In these cases, the claim must be brought by another person.

Who Can File for a Wrongful Death in South Carolina?

In the state of South Carolina, the individual who is the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate will be responsible for bringing forth a claim of wrongful death. The executor is usually named in the deceased party’s will. If the individual named is unable or unwilling to serve as executor, the court can name a new executor or administrator.

The executor is not necessarily taking the claim to court for themselves, but instead acting on behalf of the deceased person. The individuals who are eligible to recover damages are:

  • The spouse and children of the deceased;
  • Parents of the deceased, if there is no spouse or children;
  • In the event, there is no spouse, children, or parents, the court of the deceased will be eligible.

Parents are eligible to recover damages, even if their child was an adult at the time of death; however, if the parent abandoned the child before the age of eighteen, they will not be considered eligible, even if the child was an adult before the time of death.

What Damages Can One Receive from A South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Monetary damage is the only way that liability is shown in the event of a wrongful death case. This is one thing that separates a wrongful death case from a normal criminal case. In the event of a criminal case, such as homicide, liability would be expressed by imprisonment, fines, or other penalties.

If damages are awarded in a wrongful death claim, they would include compensation for the following:

  • Burial and funeral costs;
  • Medical expenses and other costs in relation to the deceased individual’s illness or injury that led to their death;
  • Any lost wages or benefits;
  • Any financial losses or property damage related to the death;
  • Loss of the individual’s experience, judgement, and knowledge due to their death;
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish suffered by the surviving members of the family.

If the death was caused by intentional or reckless actions, the court might decide to include exemplary damages also. Exemplary damages are more commonly known as “punitive damages”. Damages that come from the wrongful death case are meant to reward the victim’s family with money to cover losses due to the death, but punitive damages an additional punishment on the individual who is responsible for the death.

What Time Limits Are Involved in a South Carolina Wrongful Death Cases

The claim for wrongful death must be filed within the legal time limit. This limit is known as the “statute of limitations”. An individual will have three years from the date that the deceased individual died, as to comply with South Carolina’s statute of limitations. Any claim presented after this point will not be heard in court. Therefore, it is important to find representation and make your claim as soon as possible.

How to Find an Attorney with Experience a Wrongful Death Claims

There are many lawyers who practice personal injury and accident law that have never dealt with a wrongful death case. One thing to find out is if the attorney has experience with wrongful death cases. If the attorney makes big promises about what they will win for you, you should immediately be cautious about proceeding with that lawyer. Wrongful death cases are usual long and difficult and it is hard to know the outcome. Make sure you are comfortable with the lawyer, because you will probably be spending a lot of time with them and their staff. Although this process is challenging, having an attorney with experience and compassion will help to make it seem a lot less painful.

Ask for referrals from friends, coworkers, or family members who have had dealt with similar issues. Use the internet to research the lawyer you choose. Search for blogs and forum pages that reference them and the individual’s experience with them. Know that a quality lawyer will fight for you and your loved ones.

As the loved one of the deceased, you are entitled to receive compensation for losses you have incurred from the death of your family member. Don’t waste any time looking for a skilled lawyer to help get your case filed and prepare you for court. Remember the statute of limitations in South Carolina is three years for a wrongful death claim. You do not want to miss this window and cost yourself and loved ones more than they have already lost. Contact our dedicated wrongful death attorneys in Greenville today. We can help you with your claim!

How Common is Worker’s Compensation Fraud in South Carolina

Worker’s compensation is what the employees get when they get injured while they are performing their duties in their course of their employment. Then they are entitled to recover compensation with regard to these injuries.

Workers’ compensation is basically a social benefits program. It is meant to relieve employers of their liability from lawsuits that involve negligence. In return, the employer becomes responsible for other issues that include medical costs, the wages lost for the employee and such other costs that are associated with rehabilitation. Do note that it does not matter here whether the employee was at fault or the employer.

You can ask any South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney about this law. Here, all the injured employees are entitled to receiving all necessary medical treatment in order to lessen their disability. The medical treatments would include surgeries as well as hospitalization. It will also cover medical supplies and any prosthetic devices. Other items included here will be prescriptions along with rehabilitation services.

Do note that injured employees are entitled to compensation that will be at the rate of 66 percent of their average weekly wages. This will be calculated based on their four working quarters just prior to the injury.

Insurance Fraud 

Workers’ compensation can be considered as a security net for all those who get injured while working. Hence it can be considered as a great boon to employees. But unfortunately, there are many people who are looking at the workers’ compensation system as an opportunity for them to collect a paycheck without doing any kind of work. These are people who would fake injuries on the job. Then they would commit fraud on the workers’ compensation funds. As a matter of fact, this workers’ compensation fraud is a big problem today. Hence there are investigations today into any kind of suspicious claims if they become frequent occurrences. Doing past investigations in order to detect workers’ compensation fraud would involve a lot of legwork along with hours of surveillance. These days investigation requires a lot of work online too as social media has become a valuable tool for investigators.

Social media sites are allowing individuals to share a lot of information regarding almost every aspect of their life. This information may be harmless and appear uninteresting to most people. But those who are investigating fraud claims will find every little piece of information valuable. These snippets of information are highly useful while denying claims or looking towards prosecuting someone for fraud. Do note that investigators for insurance fraud will be looking at your social media for photos showing people engaging in those activities that they should not be able to do physically. This would include going to the gym, playing sports, or engaging in some form of exercise that is not related to physical therapy. Hence it would indicate some form of fraudulent activity just to get workers’ compensation.

There may be posts or pictures or videos that depict a person lifting objects or being engaged in some activities that may be prohibited with some specific injuries. There may be some other information or statuses that indicate that a person is doing another job or is looking for employment at other places. There can be other posts to indicate that a person’s condition or injury is not really as severe as is being claimed. Hence the job of a workers’ compensation attorney has changed today. He needs to incorporate this aspect also in his work.

Fraud is morally wrong and illegal too. It can have serious financial as well as legal consequences for anyone who is found to be engaging in it. Hence social media investigations help investigators to fight insurance fraud that are related to workers’ compensation claims. But there is another aspect to it. This information found on social media can have a negative impact even on the innocent parties. This is because the information shared on the internet may not tell the whole story. There can be complications for an innocent claimant for workers’ compensation due to misunderstandings with these social media posts. Hence a status such as you are feeling better may be something entirely different for an investigator. Or else you may be tagged in old photographs and that would not be an accurate snapshot of your condition today. But it may appear to other people of having been shot now.

This is why you need to be careful while filing a workers’ compensation and try to avoid social media while you are in the process and recovering. This will not be an easy task as many of us visit social media websites a number of times each day.  Do note that the consequences for visiting and posting on your social media websites can be much worse than not keeping up with them. You may believe that your information is private and not accessible to all. Still it is better to be safe now than sorry later. Avoid sharing your medical history or anything that pertains to your insurance claim online. Let your friends know that you would not like to be included in their posts, at least for some time.

Do note that Greenville, South Carolina does not tolerate this kind of fraud in order to collect workers’ compensation and constitutes it as a serious crime. People committing insurance fraud leads to everyone’s insurance premium rising, making the entire insurance system more expensive.

In case you are planning to initiate a workers’ compensation claim, you must consult with a lawyer who is familiar with handling workers’ compensation claims. This way you would also come to know the wide range of benefits that you would be entitled to and you are not aware of. Besides, you would come to know about any immediate steps that you need to take in order to protect yourself and your claim. Hence you will be saved from the effort while you will be getting more benefits too!

The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help. Our hard-working team of work injury attorneys and professionals in Greenville are here to answer your questions and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential, and comprehensive case review with an actual attorney.

Nursing Home Neglect – a National Epidemic

There are times when your elderly loved one is living in a nursing home or even in an extended living facility. But you would always be concerned that the person may become a victim of abuse or neglect. In fact, nursing home abuse has become an American epidemic that is affecting nursing homes in all the States, including Greenville, SC. The same malady afflicts even the most expensive facilities.

In fact, we are still not aware of the full size of this problem as it is being grossly underreported today. The main reason behind this can be that elder abuse is being missed as we are not aware of how to detect abuse.

Even the elderly are reluctant to report abuse as they are afraid of some form of retaliation. Else they may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Or else they may be lacking the cognitive ability of making a report. This is why very few cases of elder abuse are brought towards the attention of authorities.

It is the older people with dementia who are at the highest risk of becoming a victim of elder abuse. Most of these are mistreated by those who have been entrusted to care for them. As the elderly population having dementia increases, so will this abuse towards them.

Elder Abuse Enhances The Risk Of Death

Do note that the elderly are highly vulnerable in all aspects including physical, emotional as well as financial. This is why when elderly adults are victims of abuse, no matter how mild it is, their risk of death becomes much higher as compared to for those who are not being abused.

Additionally, those who are victims of nursing home abuse tend to experience more health problems as compared to other adults. These would include depression, anxiety, besides high blood pressure, heart problems, as well as digestive issues, along with bone and joint problems.

This is why if you suspect that your loved one appears to be a victim of nursing home abuse, then contact a Greenville, SC personal injury attorney immediately.

Do note that these are not rare instances. There are a number of issues in nursing home facilities that include understaffing, uncompassionate care, in addition to indifference leading to shocking cases of neglect.

The government agencies that are charged with overseeing all these facilities have to do a better and a more thorough job in order to spare our elders from various kinds of unspeakable harm.

Know The Signs Of Neglect 

The senior care facilities need to comply with higher standards. Till that happens, families who are having a loved one in a nursing home must always be aware of signs of neglect or abuse there and be able to report it immediately to a Nursing Home(Neglect/Abuse) attorney. The common warning signs of nursing home abuse are given here.

  • There may be unusual bruises or some welts on skin. This can be due to the person being physically harmed.
  • Bedsores are a clear indication of the elderly not being taken good care of.
  • Open wounds or infections are a serious issue. It is important to understand the cause behind them. Infections are going to affect other members of the facility too.
  • Poor personal hygiene will become evident by the diapers not getting changed often. This can lead to foul smell besides infection in the private parts.
  • Frequent falls are a clear indication that proper care is not being taken to place a person properly in the bed or chair. Next, the person may need to go somewhere and no one is paying attention to that.
  • Any kind of usage of physical restraints must be questioned. After all, this is physically as well as emotionally trying for the elderly. If possible, it must be done away with completely. It is important to understand the reason behind its usage, such as the elderly harming himself, others, and so on.
  • Any form of sudden emotional withdrawal should raise concerns. Find out if there are medical reasons behind it or the elderly has been a victim of abuse. Other causes can be fear of someone at the facility. Also check if the medication has been changed or the person is facing some other kind of problem.
  • Sudden weight loss can be due to a number of reasons. This can be due to a loss of appetite, fear of bullying, unhappiness, or a change in medication. Hence the cause must be found out.
  • Sudden decline in health can be due to failing health, poor hygiene, bad food, improper care, emotional disturbance and so on.
  • Unusual behavior of the elderly, like rocking or sucking can be another indication that the person is going through some form of emotional disturbance. It is important to know the reason behind it.
  • Staff discouraging impromptu visits may be due to a reason like being caught. They can be prepared if they are informed well in advance. But in case of visitors dropping in unannounced, there is a high risk of being caught and hence such visits are not appreciated.
  • Missing personal items can mean theft or someone even taking them away forcibly. These can then be sold off to earn extra money. In case this is happening on a regular basis, it can be a cause of concern as it is a form of financial loss, discomfort as well as incites feeling of fear and neglect in the elderly.

Hence it is generally believed that a large number of elderly suffer from some form of neglect by their caregivers. But very few of these cases ever get reported to authorities. This abuse can be physical, emotional or even financial in nature. Do note that elder abuse is a crime. It has to be reported and stopped at all costs. This is why it is important to contact nursing home neglect lawyers if you believe that your loved ones are not receiving proper care. We deal with cases like this everyday and would love to sit down with you and see what we can do to help your loved one get the justice that they deserve. Call our experienced Greenville, SC nursing home neglect legal team at the Dan Pruitt Law Firm today at 864-280-7660! Or you can use our convenient online contact form.

Understanding How a Permanent Disability is Handled Through Workers’ Compensation

Workplace injuries can be quite serious, especially if you work in a factory, in a rail yard, at a construction site, or virtually any other industrial setting. If you or a loved one suffered a serious, debilitating injury that may never fully heal, you could be eligible for permanent disability benefits through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program. But keep in mind that not all serious injuries will automatically result in an award of permanent disability benefits. The potential benefit award depends on the type of injury, the level of disability, and other important factors.

Permanent Partial Disability

If you suffered a serious injury to a particular area of your body, but may still be able to find employment in a different field or workplace setting, you could qualify for permanent partial disability. Compensation for a permanent partial disability is generally based on the severity of your disability. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission generally reviews your medical records, affidavits from your doctors, and the impact of your partial disability on your ability to work in your chosen field; more on this issue below.

Common Permanent Partial Disability Injuries

Serious back injuries and spinal trauma are most often cited as the basis for seeking permanent partial disability benefits. This is especially true for laborers, rail workers, and other workers who haul and lift heavy objects on a daily basis. Other types of injuries that may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits, include:

  • Amputation of a limb
  • Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hearing loss
  • Knee injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Wrist and elbow injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Significant burns that can be seen from at least eight feet away
  • Vision loss

Benefits Awarded for Permanent Partial Disability

If you are awarded benefits for permanent partial disability, they will be calculated based on your percentage of disability. This percentage is determined by a doctor who will examine the body part that you claim is permanently impaired.

The Commission has assigned each body part a specific “maximum value.” This may seem somewhat arbitrary and subjective considering the value of a person’s knee varies depending on the individual’s chosen profession. Nevertheless, the most you can get is the max value.

The benefits you are awarded will be determined by the severity and location of your injury. If you are awarded permanent partial disability benefits, they will be paid out for up to 340 weeks. As you can see, these are not benefits paid out for the remainder of your life.

Permanent Total Disability

If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic, life-changing workplace injury, you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. But keep in mind, you have to meet a specific threshold to qualify for these benefits. For example, if you lost both of your hands, you would qualify for permanent total disability. Similarly, if you lost both feet, arms, or legs, in a workplace accident, you would likely qualify for permanent total disability. The same goes for losing your vision in both of your eyes. If you suffered a combination of these catastrophic injuries, you are likely to be deemed totally and permanently disabled.

Being considered permanently and totally disabled means you will receive additional financial benefits based your average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks.

Compensation Calculation for Permanent Injury

As mentioned, you will be compensated primarily on the severity of your disability. The severity receives a rating score. A minimal disability would be rated at 10 percent while a severe disability might be rated at 75 percent. Another main factor is your average weekly wage rate.

The Commission generally awards only 66 ⅔ percent of your average weekly wages. You may be asking yourself, “How is the severity of my disability determined?” See below.

Impairment Ratings – You Have Rights

If you are claiming a permanent injury like a lost limb, vision loss, nerve damage, etc. then you will be likely be rated by a physician. This is known as your “impairment rating.” Here is the rub – your employer can select the doctor who assigns your impairment rating. As you may expect, a doctor hired by your employer may be less inclined to give your disability a higher impairment rating.

Remember, if you disagree with the doctor’s assessment, you have rights.

Many employees wrongly believe they have to accept what their employer’s physician says and fail to seek a second medical opinion. This is a big mistake. If you have a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer handling your case, they should be able to schedule an independent medical examination so a third-party specialist can review the severity of your injury and provide their own impairment rating. This is critically important if you are trying to get the maximum benefits available.

Conference to Discuss Your Benefits

If you or a loved one suffered a permanent disability, you will likely be asked to attend an “informal conference.” This conference will also be attended by the insurance company for your employer and a commissioner or claims mediator. This conference is meant to determine the total amount of benefits you will be awarded for your permanent disability.

If you do not agree with the benefit total discussed during the informal conference, you do not have to sign the settlement agreement. If you do not sign, a hearing will be scheduled before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Do Not Take On The Insurance Company Alone – Contact an Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If a hearing is scheduled with the Commission, it will likely be held a few months after the informal conference. Getting the advice of a dedicated South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney is incredibly important. You want the maximum benefits available under the law. The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help. Our team of attorneys and professionals are here to answer your questions and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential, and comprehensive case review with an actual attorney.

Fatal Hit and Run in Greenville

Hit and run accidents are a big problem in the U.S., reaching what health experts called epidemic levels in 2013. These types of accidents are especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, who are most often the victims. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2011 there was a 13.7 percent increase in the number of hit-and-run fatalities and one in five pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-runs. The issue is also a plague in South Carolina where hit and runs are still on the increase.

 

What Constitutes a Hit-And-Run

 

If you are in any type of motor vehicle accident, with another vehicle, pedestrian, or fixed object, it is the law to stop and pull over to identify yourself as well as to render assistance if needed. Any driver who disregards this law and continues on their way has committed a hit-and-run. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, it is still considered a hit-and-run if you leave the scene of the accident without stopping.

 

Accidents In South Carolina

 

For the South Carolina Highway Patrol, hit-and-runs are almost a daily occurrence. In fact, in just the period of a year, between 2014 and 2015, there was a 15 percent increase. Drivers in hit and runs have already claimed the lives of several pedestrians across South Carolina. There was the incident of 14-year-old Grace Sulek who was on her way home from a track and field meet; there were Deandre Richardson, 16, and Leonardo Suarez-Perez, 15, who were struck by a Jeep Wrangler as they rode their skateboards; and the 41-year-old Zachary Smith who died in the hospital after being thrown from his motorcycle which was struck by an SUV; and the list could go on.

 

One of the most troubling aspects of these types of accidents is that the perpetrators are hardly ever caught. It is extremely difficult for law enforcement to find the drivers, even with witnesses available to give testimony.

 

South Carolina Penalties for Hit-And-Run

 

In most states, including South Carolina, being the perpetrator of a hit-and-run has numerous consequences if you’re caught and convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, such as whether it was simply property damage or injuries were sustained, the penalties will vary.

 

If the accident involved a minor injury, the crime is considered a misdemeanor and the convicted driver will have their driver’s licence revoked, have to pay a fine of up to $5,000, and/or be given a prison sentence ranging from 30 days to one year. In addition to the revocation of their driver’s license, if there is a serious injury or death, the hit-and-run driver will be charged with a felony. The fine in cases of serious injury is $5,000-$10,000 and up to 10 years in prison while cases with fatalities are $10,000-$25,000 and one to 25 years in prison. When only property damage is part of the case, the hit-and-run driver can be charged with a misdemeanor, fined $500-$1,000, and/or possibly a prison term of no more than one year.

 

Although the steep penalties for hit-and-run accidents are far worse than simply following the law by staying on the scene, many choose to leave. Unfortunately, when this happens, the victims, who have often already lost so much, can be stuck with expensive medical bills, long-term injuries, or worse.

 

Civil Action

 

In addition to the criminal penalties associated with hit-and-run accidents, a convicted driver could also be sued for damages associated with the accident. These types of lawsuits are meant to provide monetary compensation for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. It is similar to what the driver would face even if they stayed on the scene if they were at fault for the accident. Of course, being charged with a misdemeanor or felony for a hit-and-run will likely lead the court to impose higher amounts to punish to person. Meaning if, under normal circumstances, they would have awarded the plaintiff $5,000, they might triple the amount to $15,000.

 

What to Do If You Are the Victim

 

Unfortunately, most hit-and-run cases to not end with the victim or their family receiving the justice they deserve. In the event that you’re in an accident with another motorist who choose to flee the scene, do your best to:

 

  • If possible, get their license plate number or a description of their vehicle;
  • Contact law enforcement and report the incident, providing any relevant information you can give;
  • File and accident report with the police which includes any witnesses available; and
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.

 

As with any accident, if you are able, take pictures of the accident scene and get statements from witnesses. You should get names, addresses, and contact information from anyone who saw what happened.

 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

 

In South Carolina, although drivers are required to have auto insurance, they are not required to have uninsured motorist coverage. This type of additional insurance should be offered by your insurance company and is meant to cover you in the event you are in an accident that was caused by an uninsured driver. Your own insurance would then pay for any injuries or property damage the uninsured was unable to. Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in similarly for accidents with hit-and-run drivers.

 

To recover damages for the accident with a hit-and run driver, you would file a claim with your own insurance company. In order to settle successfully you would need to have reported the accident to the police in a timely manner and prove that the injury and/or property damage was caused by another vehicle (as confirmed by a witness other than the driver) and that the driver was not acting negligently to cause the accident themselves.

 

Contact an Attorney for Help

 

Hit-and-run accidents are some of the most devastating you can ever be involved in. Regardless of the type of car accident you have been in, you need an experienced Greenville car accident attorney fighting for your rights. Contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to find out more about filing a car accident claim. We’ll help you with any questions you have and ensure you get the most out of your settlement.