If your Greenville, South Carolina employer has at least four employees, then you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. This means that your employer has to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide medical and wage benefits if you should become injured on the job, or even if you develop an occupational illness. This all sounds pretty straightforward, but there are some things that create obstacles when you sustain a work related injury or illness and attempt to get the compensation benefits that you need.
Why Would an Employer Refuse to Report Your Injury?
One of the first obstacles that you might encounter after a work related injury is a situation in which your employer refuses to acknowledge or report the injury to their workers’ compensation insurance provider. The reason that this happens is because the employer is often worried about their insurance rates going up or their workplace being subjected to a health and safety investigation. In some cases, injured workers even face the threat of retaliation for reporting their injuries. Though it is illegal, workers can be demoted or even fired because of reporting a work injury. It can be difficult to prove that this action was retaliatory in nature, so many employees are afraid to report their injuries, thinking they’ll face consequences for doing so and won’t be able to prove that they’ve been retaliated against.
The reason that it can be challenging to prove retaliation is because your employer isn’t going to cite their reason for firing or demoting you as being due to your workers’ compensation claim. Rather, they’ll say that you were not performing well, or that there is some other valid reason for their actions. They might even offer a light duty position that meets your restrictions, but is not really intended as a light duty position, but as a demotion. In some cases, workers end up in very unpleasant roles because their employers want to retaliate without appearing to do so.
It is important to not be intimidated by the potential consequences that you might face for reporting a work related injury. If you have any suspicion at all that you’ve been retaliated against for doing so, even if you think it will be difficult to prove, contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to learn about your rights and how we can help.
Responding Appropriately to a Greenville, SC Work Injury
As soon as you are injured, become aware of an injury, or experience symptoms of an occupational illness, it is essential to respond appropriately. Otherwise, you risk harming your claim and you may not end up with the benefits you deserve.
Start by seeking medical treatment and reporting the injury. The order in which you do this will depend on the injury or illness. You may need medical treatment to identify an illness and find out that it is occupational in nature. In this case, you seek medical treatment first, and then, quickly report the illness to your supervisor. In cases where an urgent injury occurs, you must seek medical treatment from the nearest emergency room, and you may not have time to report the injury, first. However, in many cases of urgent work injuries, your supervisor will be made aware very quickly. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still report the injury in writing, but there’s a good chance that an incident report will already be started while you’re on your way to the hospital. In cases where a non-urgent injury has occurred, you can report the incident to your supervisor, first, fill out an incident report or provide another written report of the injury, then choose a physician from the company’s list of approved medical providers.
If you must seek emergency room care, first, then you can go to the nearest ER, but you should follow up with a company approved physician. The same is true for occupational illnesses. You may discover the illness with your own family physician, but once you know that it is related to work, you must follow up with a medical provider from your employer’s list.
From this point, your employer is supposed to report your injury to the workers’ compensation insurance provider and South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. If your employer does not do this, then you can report the incident to the commission yourself, using Form 50 from the Workers’ Compensation Commission website. If you need assistance or advice on this process or your rights, the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm is here to help. We are also here for you if your claim is initially denied for any reason. We can help you to ensure that you didn’t make any mistakes in filing, establish why the claim was denied, and fight for your right to benefits.
Further, you need to make sure that whatever instructions or restrictions are provided by your physician are followed without exception. They may recommend ongoing treatment, pain management therapy, no heavy lifting, certain types of exercise, and/or the use of medication or medical devices, for example. Don’t deviate from these instructions. Let your employer know about your restrictions with a copy that you receive from your physician.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Does Not Prevent Third Party Lawsuits
When you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, you are prohibited from filing a personal injury claim against your employer or coworkers, unless certain unusual circumstances apply, such as gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Yet, receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not prevent you from filing a third party claim against another individual who may have caused or contributed to your injuries. The most common examples of this are work related auto accidents, in which another driver is liable, animal attacks, and accidents that occur on someone’s property while you are there for work related purposes. For instance, someone who delivers mail could be bitten by a dog or could slip on ice, and they might have both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party premises liability claim.
Contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for More Information
If you have any questions about your options, rights, or responsibilities in a Greenville, South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, or if you believe you have been retaliated against for filing a claim, contact a determined workers’ comp lawyer in Greenville at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for advice and representation.
Dan Pruitt is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from University of Georgia, and has been practicing law for 25 years. Dan Pruitt believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.