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.