It is easy to make mistakes when you are seeking South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. This is especially true if you have never dealt with a workplace injury or illness before in your life.

The process may also be a little confusing to you. You may not realize the important steps you should take in order to protect your right to benefits.

If you have any questions about your legal rights or the process that goes into obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina, please feel free to contact Jebaily Law Firm. We would be glad to help you.

We have a long history of assisting injured workers in Florence and surrounding communities in South Carolina. We can provide a free consultation about your case.

Here, we outline seven common (and potentially costly) mistakes that injured workers make. We also discuss how you can avoid them.

South Carolina Workers Comp Attorneys:  Common Mistakes We See

1. Failing to give notice to your employer.

Some workers fail to give notice to their employer due to the circumstances of their accident or because of a mistaken belief that the doctor who treats them will give notice. This is a mistake. If you suffer an injury in a workplace accident, it is your responsibility to give notice to your employer right away. You should give notice to a supervisor, manager, human resources manager or whoever else is designated by your employer to receive notice.

You should give the notice in writing or complete any report forms that your employer requires. Be sure to keep a copy of the notice for yourself.

South Carolina law requires you to give notice to your employer within 90 days after your workplace accident. So, if you fail to give notice by that deadline, you may lose your right to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

2. Believing your injury or illness is not related to your work.

Many workers suffer from a medical condition that arose before they began working for a company. For instance, a worker may have experienced back issues for several years. As a result, they may mistakenly believe that they cannot obtain workers’ comp benefits when they suffer an injury to that part of the body. However, the reality is that you can be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a work-related injury that aggravates a pre-existing condition, or if your pre-existing condition complicates your injury on the job.

This is why you should still go through with the process of reporting your injury to your employer and taking further steps to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.

3. Getting unauthorized medical treatment.

It is crucial to get medical care and treatment for your work-related injury or illness as soon as possible. The South Carolina workers’ compensation system allows all of your medical expenses to be covered as well as some medical-related travel expenses that you incur. Unlike private health insurance, you will not have to pay a deductible. However, to receive medical benefits, you must go to the medical care provider that is chosen and authorized by your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer). If you do not get this authorization, your employer may not be required to pay your medical expenses.

4. Failing to get an independent medical examination.

Many workers fail to realize that they can seek a second opinion, or independent medical examination (IME), if they disagree with the conclusions reached by the medical care provider chosen by their employer (or its insurer).The purpose of an IME is to arrive at a truly objective determination about your medical condition. You may need to seek an IME if an employer-chosen doctor finds that your injury was not work-related, or if you otherwise disagree with the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan.

Your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) may be willing to pay for a second opinion IME. However, if they refuse, it may be well worth it for you to use your resources to have an IME. The IME could end up playing an important role in your pursuit of benefits.

5. Waiting too long to file a claim.

Your employer should be the one to report your injury or illness to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. However, you may need to file the claim if:

  • Your employer fails to do so
  • Your employer denies your condition is work-related
  • You do not receive the full amount of benefits you believe you deserve.

Unfortunately, many injured and ill workers fail to file a workers’ compensation claim on time with the Commission and lose their right to benefits. You must avoid this mistake. Pay attention to these filing deadlines:

  • Injury – Within two years after the date of the accident.
  • Repetitive trauma injury – Within two years after you knew or should have known with due diligence that your injury is work related.
  • Occupational disease – Within two years after you have been definitively diagnosed with the disease and notified of that diagnosis
  • Death – Within two years after the date of your loved one’s work-related death (although exceptions may apply to minors or the mentally incompetent).

If you need any help with filing a claim with the Commission, please contact Jebaily Law Firm. We would be glad to help you and take steps on your behalf to ensure that your claim is timely and properly filed.

6. Failing to file for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits in South Carolina, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits as well. It is important to consult with a workers’ comp lawyer from Jebaily Law Firm, who can review all of your benefits options.If you qualify for SSD benefits, then the amount you would receive in those benefits would simply be offset by the amount you receive in workers’ compensation payments.

It is important to note that, unlike workers’ compensation, your family members could be eligible to receive SSD benefits based on your disability. This is one reason why it may be in your best interest to consider filing for SSD benefits.

7. Not exploring your other legal options.

Under South Carolina law, workers’ compensation benefits are the “exclusive remedy” that a worker has against his or her employer if injured on the job. In other words, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness. However, if a non-employer causes harm to you while you are working, you may be eligible to recover compensation from that “third party” through a personal injury claim. For example, if you are a truck driver who is struck by a negligent driver while you are making a delivery, you can bring what is called a “third-party liability claim” against that driver.

In contrast to a workers’ compensation claim, you could pursue a recovery of all your lost income (not just a percentage) in a third-party liability claim as well as pain and suffering damages.

Any financial recovery that you obtain in a third-party liability claim would be subject to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier’s lien for the amounts you have received in workers’ compensation benefits.

Get Help from a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The best way to avoid making a costly mistake when filing for workers’ compensation benefits is to get help from a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney with extensive experience in this area of the law.

For Over 50 Years, the lawyers of Jebaily Law Firm have sought workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of injured and ill workers in the surrounding areas of South Carolina.

We can put that experience to work for you and pursue all of the benefits and other compensation you deserve.