It can be painful and confusing to suffer a work-related injury or illness. However, many legal options may be available to help you get through this difficult time. Jebaily Law Firm can explore those options with you.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, for instance, provides benefits to people who have been injured on the job or who suffer from an occupational disease. These benefits extend to workers in construction, manufacturing, health care, landscaping and all types of jobs. These benefits can cover medical treatment and replace a portion of a worker’s lost wages.
At Jebaily Law Firm, our firm lead workers’ compensation attorney, Ronald J. Jebaily, has helped disabled workers to get the benefits they deserve for more than four decades. He is a recipient of the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Educational Association’s “Lifetime Service Award.”
If you or a loved one needs help from an experienced and successful Marion personal injury lawyer, look no further.
Workers Compensation Attorney in Marion: How We Can Help
At Jebaily Law Firm, we believe it is crucial for injured and ill workers in Marion and throughout South Carolina to seek legal assistance.
A lawyer’s guidance and representation is especially important if:
- Your treating physician determines you are not likely to recover to the health you enjoyed before your injury or illness arose.
- You believe you cannot work any job on a daily basis anymore.
- You think you may eventually be able to return to your work but in a different, restricted capacity.
- You had a pre-existing condition when your work injury occurred.
- Your employer denied your benefits claim, or there is some dispute over whether you qualify for benefits.
- You do not believe the benefits you are currently receiving are sufficient.
- Your employer retaliates after you file a workers’ compensation claim.
Jebaily Law Firm knows the workers’ compensation laws in Marion inside and out. We also stay on top of new developments and trends in this constantly evolving, complex area of the law. We can put our skill and experience to work for you today.
We can assist you by:
- Making sure you continue to receive proper medical care as your case proceeds
- Filing all forms and other necessary paperwork in a timely and accurate manner
- Gathering and analyzing all of your medical and work records
- Consulting with medical and vocational experts
- Seeking a full and fair settlement of your workers’ compensation claim
- Presenting the strongest case possible on your behalf in hearings or appeals
- Pursuing all other options available to you, including a third-party claim or SSD benefits
- Carefully managing all benefits and damages awards in order to maximize the amount you receive.
Are You Covered by Workers Compensation in Marion?
When you contact Jebaily Law Firm, we can help you to determine an initial issue in your case: Whether you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Marion. The answer will depend on your employment status and how your injury or illness arose.
South Carolina requires any company that employs four or more full-time or part-time workers to carry workers’ compensation insurance (or be self-insured). As a result, most employees in our state are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It does not matter if you are a minor or adult. However, if you are an unpaid volunteer, you would not be covered.
To avoid paying workers’ comp benefits, an employer may argue that you are an “independent contractor” and not an “employee.” However, it does not matter what an employer calls you. Instead, what matters is the degree of control which an employer exercises over you.
For instance, does the employer:
- Pay you directly (cash or check)?
- Direct you to do the work in a particular time frame or in a particular way?
- Provide the equipment required to do the work?
- Have the right to fire you?
If so, you are likely an employee and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Additionally, if you work for a subcontractor that does not have workers’ comp insurance, you should be covered by the principal contractor’s policy.
Of course, to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must have suffered an injury or illness that arose within the scope and course of your employment.
In other words, you must have been carrying out duties for your employer. Examples include:
- Getting hurt in an accident in the workplace
- Being involved in a motor vehicle crash while carrying out work duties
- Suffering a repetitive trauma injury from operating equipment
- Being exposed to toxic chemicals or other harmful substances in the workplace.
Jebaily Law Firm can conduct a careful review of your case and help you to take the next steps if you are an employee who has suffered a qualifying injury or illness.
What Are Common Workplace Injuries in Marion?
According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 45,000 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses occur in South Carolina during an average year. Based on those stats, the state’s most dangerous industries are:
Among the most common types of injuries that Marion workers suffer are:
- Head and Brain Injuries – A fall, explosion, getting struck by an object or motor vehicle accident can cause a worker to suffer one or more concussions or other forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Head and brain injuries can cause temporary or permanent disability.
- Sprains and Strains – The stretching or tearing of a ligament causes sprains, while strains involve muscle or tendon damage. A strain often occurs in the lower back from lifting heavy objects in the workplace or from engaging in repetitive motion.
- Back Injuries – Factors that contribute to these injuries include heavy lifting, fatigue, body mechanics and repetitive lifting, twisting, turning and bending. These injuries can also occur due to slip and falls, falls from heights and exposure to vibration while driving.
- Neck Injuries – A worker involved in a motor vehicle crash may suffer whiplash. However, neck injuries may also result from the same things that cause back injuries. Shoulder injuries may involve injury to the neck as well.
- Repetitive Trauma Injuries – These injuries result from performing repetitive tasks that cause repeated injury to a particular body part. They frequently occur in construction, manufacturing and other industrial jobs. Repetitive trauma injuries can occur in the back, knees, wrists, shoulders and other areas. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of an injury that may be a result of repetitive trauma.
- Psychological Injuries – A worker who experiences unusual or extraordinary conditions of employment may suffer a psychological injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a serious condition. Flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, withdrawal and physical symptoms can arise. An injured worker may also develop a psychological injury in the form of anxiety and/or depression as a result of a work-related physical injury.
- Exposure to Chemicals and Hazardous Materials – Many jobs can expose you to dangerous chemicals that cause burns upon contact or internal organ damage if inhaled. Exposure to asbestos – a material once widely used in South Carolina and across the country – has been linked to mesothelioma, an especially deadly form of cancer.
- Slips, Trips and Falls – Falls on the same level or to a lower level often occur at construction sites, where workers can fall from roofs, ladders or scaffolding. These injuries can also occur when workers slip on slick surfaces such as greasy or wet floors, halls or stairways.
- Electrical Incidents – Contact with power lines, exposed wires or defective tools or equipment cause electrical injuries. Workers may suffer electrocution, electrical burns, thermal burns, arc or flash burns. Nerve damage and tissue destruction can also result.
- Manual Handling / Lifting – Lifting and moving heavy materials or equipment at a construction site, factory, loading dock or health care facility can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These are injuries to the ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves and joints in the back, neck and limbs.
If you have been injured at work, Jebaily Law Firm can help you to determine if you are eligible for benefits and, perhaps, a third-party liability claim as well.
Marion Workers Comp Attorney: Medical Treatments
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation medical benefits, we can help you to file a claim for full coverage of all necessary medical expenses that you incur to treat your injury or illness, including:
Additionally, you should be reimbursed for mileage to and from your doctor’s appointments (as long as you travel at least five miles each way).
In South Carolina, you must get treatment from the medical care provider that your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) selects. If you go to a different doctor without the employer’s or insurer’s authorization, your medical expenses will not be covered.
Jebaily Law Firm knows that getting proper medical treatment is crucial for your recovery. We can help you to pursue the medical benefits you deserve. If you wish to see a different doctor, and your employer refuses to authorize a change, we can help you with filing an appeal.
Can Workers’ Compensation Cover Your Lost Wages in Marion?
If you cannot do work – or do the same work as you did before your injury or illness – you may be entitled to lost-wage benefits in South Carolina. The types of benefits you can receive will depend on the extent of your disability.
Total Disability Benefits
If your injury has left you completely disabled and unable to do any work, you may be eligible for total disability benefits on a temporary or permanent basis. It is important to understand that a physician that is authorized by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier must confirm that you are unable to work or can only work with physical restrictions as a result of your injury.
The amount you receive would equal 66 and 2/3 percent of the average weekly wage that you earned before your injury – subject to a “maximum weekly compensation rate” that is adjusted each year. (For instance, if your injury occurred in 2016, the maximum weekly amount you could receive would be $784.03.)
You can receive temporary total disability benefits until you are able to return to work or until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). If you reach MMI, you may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits.You can receive total disability benefits after you have been out of work for at least seven days. If your injury keeps you out of work for 14 days or longer, you can receive benefits that cover the wages you lost from the date of your accident.
Total disability benefits cannot be extended beyond 500 weeks. However, if you have suffered substantial brain injury or spinal cord damage resulting in paralysis, you may be eligible for lifetime benefits.
Partial Disability Benefits
If your injury restricts the type of work you can do or the number of hours you can work, you may be eligible to receive partial disability benefits in South Carolina.The amount you receive would equal 66 and 2/3 of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and what you earn after your injury.
S.C. Workers’ Compensation Impairment RatingIf your injury leaves you with permanent work restrictions, you may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits. A doctor will give you an “impairment rating” that will help determine the extent of disability benefits you are eligible to receive.
Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer will choose the doctor who makes the impairment rating decision. Typically, this is the physician who has been treating you for your work-related injury. However, in some injury cases, the workers’ compensation insurer will seek an independent medical examination for an additional or alternative rating. You may also want to obtain your own independent medical examination.If your employer challenges your disability benefits claim or if you disagree with the impairment rating assigned to you, Jebaily Law Firm will protect your rights and fight for the benefits you deserve.
What Can You Do If Your Loved One Dies from a Work Injury or Illness?
If you have lost a family member to a work-related injury or illness, the South Carolina workers’ compensation system may provide death benefits and cover the costs of putting your loved one to rest.
Typically, these benefits are awarded to the spouse and dependents of the deceased worker. The amount equates to 66 and 2/3 of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. Similar to disability benefits, the amount is subject to a maximum compensation rate that is adjusted each year and limited to 500 weeks.
Additionally, workers’ compensation can cover up to $2,500 in funeral and burial expenses.
Marion Work Injury Claim Denied?
If you suffer a work-related injury, you should give notice to your employer as soon as possible. Failure to give notice to your employer within 90 days after your on-the-job accident could result in loss of benefits.
If you were diagnosed with repetitive trauma or an occupational disease, then you must give notice to your employer within 90 days of the date you discovered the illness or could have discovered it by “exercising reasonable diligence,” or within 90 days of your definitive diagnosis.
After you give notice to your employer, the employer should report your injury or illness to its workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer, in turn, has 10 days to report your claim to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission).
If your employer fails to report your injury or illness or denies that your condition is work-related, or if you do not receive the full amount in benefits that you believe you are entitled to receive, you must file a claim with the Commission on your own behalf.
At this point, it is crucial to seek help from an experienced work injury lawyer. The attorney can make sure all proper paperwork is filed and deadlines are met. He or she can also get to work on gathering and reviewing evidence and establishing the strongest case possible on your behalf.
If you are filing a claim based on an accident-related injury, repetitive trauma or occupational disease, you must file Form 50.
If you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits after losing a loved one to a workplace accident, you would file Form 52.
You must file the claim within two years from the date of your injury or the death of your loved one.
You (and your work injury lawyer) will then likely attend mediation with the employer or its insurer. The goal will be to reach a settlement that resolves your workers’ compensation claim. An attorney who has been through many mediated settlement talks can play an invaluable role at this stage.
If no agreement is reached, your case will go before a hearing commissioner, who will issue a decision on your claim. If you disagree with this decision, you then have 14 days to file an appeal (using Form 30). The appeal will be reviewed by a three-member Commission panel.
If you disagree with the decision made on your claim, you will have 30 days from the Commission’s decision to file notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals.
The bottom line: Even if your claim is denied, you should not give up hope. Keep fighting for what you believe you rightfully deserve – with the help of an experienced workers’ comp lawyer.
Do You Have Options Beyond Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Generally speaking, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness in South Carolina. Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is your “exclusive remedy.”
However, you may be able to recover personal injury damages if your injury or illness was due to the fault of a non-employer “third party” such as:
- A negligent driver who caused an accident that harmed you
- The manufacturer or supplier of a defective tool or piece of equipment
- A construction site or other property owner who failed to keep the premises safe.
Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, you can recover the full amount of your lost wages in third-party liability claim as well as pain and suffering damages. However, your third-party recovery will likely be subject to a lien by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to recover what they paid out to you in workers’ compensation benefits.
Additionally, if you have suffered a disability that prevents you from working, you may also be eligible to file a claim for Marion Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The amount you could receive in SSD benefits would likely be subject to an “offset” for workers’ compensation benefits you received.
Get Help from Our Marion Workers Compensation Lawyer
Jebaily Law Firm takes pride in making a difference in the lives of workers in Marion and throughout South Carolina after they have suffered a work-related injury or illness.
Don’t wait to get started on the road to your recovery. For immediate assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us today. We can provide a free consultation. Our Marion law firm offers a wide range of legal services including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, social security benefits, and much more.
Sources / More Information
- South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, South Carolina Legislature
- Information for Employees/Injured Workers/Claimants, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission