If you’ve been hurt at work, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind: How will you pay your bills and afford day-to-day necessities? Is your career in jeopardy? What should you do next?
While there’s a lot to sort out after an on-the-job injury, it’s important to not let the stress and anxiety overwhelm you and keep you from taking action. We have seen too many cases where injured workers wait too long to get their workers’ compensation claim started and then miss out on benefits they deserve.
You need to act quickly if you want to have a chance at receiving compensation for your medical bills and lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim.
In this article, we’ll explore why time is of the essence when it comes to on-the-job injuries and discuss what you can do to make sure time doesn’t run out on your workers’ compensation claim.
Injured Workers Have a Duty to Notify Employers
The first and most important thing you need to do if you’ve been hurt on the job is notify your employer about the injury as soon as possible. After an injury, you have a responsibility to tell your employer about it immediately (or within the soonest reasonable time frame if you’re unable to notify them right away). In particular, South Carolina law states that an employee must report any injury to their employer within 90 days.
Failing to tell your employer about the incident and your injuries could lead to denial of your workers’ compensation claim and the loss of any benefits that you might have been entitled to.
How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you’re not already familiar, workers’ compensation is a state-sponsored system that pays monetary benefits to workers who suffer injuries or become disabled during the course of their employment. Injured employees in South Carolina can apply to receive workers’ compensation benefits by filing a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
However, this short explanation makes it sound a lot easier than it really is to apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits, but it should at least give you an idea of what the workers’ compensation system is all about.
Additionally, every state sets a specific window of time that injured workers have from the date of their injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. Once that time limit — which is formally called the “statute of limitations” — expires, the employee loses any chance to receive compensation for their injuries by filing a claim.
In South Carolina, employees have two years to file a workers’ compensation claim before the statute of limitations expires. While this might sound like a lot of time, it’s important to remember that the paperwork involved with filing a claim is complex, and it also takes time to gather the necessary information in order to fill out that paperwork in the first place.
All of this means that waiting until the last minute to pursue a claim is not a good idea.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
In general, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after suffering an on-the-job injury. An attorney should be able to investigate your potential claim, gather the necessary information, help you fill out the complicated paperwork in a timely fashion, and advise you about the statute of limitations and any other factors that may affect your claim.
Even if it seems like your employer’s insurance company plans to do the right thing and take care of you without a dispute after you are injured at work, it’s still a wise decision to talk with an attorney about your situation.
In some cases, the insurance company will at first pay for your medical treatment, leading you to think your medical bills are covered. However, unless the insurance company has paid total temporary disability in your case, they can still deny your claim and refuse to pay for your treatment — even after they’ve initially agreed to pay. We’ve encountered many clients who had the rug pulled out from under them in this way, and it came as an unpleasant shock when they received bills for medical treatment they thought had already been paid.
Working with an attorney who will deal with the insurance company and handle all the important details of your case is one way to avoid being surprised by an insurance company tactic like this. Even more importantly, it’s a way to keep your case on track and allow you to focus on your recovery instead of having to deal with the stress and hard work that comes with trying to handle a workers’ compensation claim alone.
David L. Hood: Advocating for Injured Workers in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, and Throughout South Carolina
To learn more about your rights as an injured worker and receive the care and attention your workers’ compensation case deserves, contact The Law Offices of David L. Hood, a South Carolina workers’ compensation law firm with years of experience representing injured workers. We handle all cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case or negotiate a successful settlement.* Call our offices at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with us today.
*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.