Is It Worth Getting a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Columbia, South Carolina?
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in Columbia is generally a straightforward administrative process that you can complete on your own. However, unique factors and circumstances can quickly complicate the process.
Workplace injury cases involving minor injuries that are clearly work-related, do not require extensive medical treatment or heal completely with treatment, and do not result in permanent disability typically do not require a lawyer. Employers and their insurance companies are likely to approve these types of claims because they do not result in high costs and you typically return to work after a short time.
But, if you’ve suffered more severe injuries that require extensive or long term medical care or your employer had denied or contested the severity of your injuries, having an experienced and knowledgeable Columbia, SC workers’ compensation lawyer on your side could mean the difference between a win and a denial.
If any of the following circumstances apply to you, it may be in your best interest to have a Columbia Workers’ Compensation attorney manage your workplace injury claim:
- You have a preexisting condition or illness, such as a chronic back condition.
- Your employer or their insurance company has denied your claim.
- Your employer or their insurance company is contesting or disputing the severity of your disability.
- Your employer or their insurance company will not approve treatment you believe to be necessary.
- You are receiving other government benefits such as short-term disability.
Injured employees who hire lawyers to represent them on their workers’ comp claim often receive a higher initial settlement offer because of the lawyer’s knowledge, skill, and experience.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Workers’ Comp Case in Columbia?
Each workers’ compensation case is unique, and many factors determine case values. To determine an appropriate settlement, your attorney must consider the severity of your injuries, lost wages, disfigurement and disability, medical expenses, and many other factors.
What Does a Columbia Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do?
The primary goal of a Columbia workers’ compensation attorney is to represent your best interests at all stages of the claims process and recover adequate compensation for your on-the-job injuries.
When you have retained a workers’ comp lawyer, they will typically perform the following tasks:
- Answer your questions and help you navigate the workers’ comp process.
- Represent you at any workers’ comp proceedings, including hearings, trials, depositions, mediations, and negotiations.
- Drafting the necessary legal documents, including pleadings and motions.
- Gathering medical evidence and medical records, including contacting medical providers and completing paperwork relating to the claim.
- Taking depositions of the claimant, physicians, medical experts, and other parties.
- Communicate with third parties such as your employer and their insurance company.
Can I Make a Claim for Pain and Suffering Under Workers’ Comp in Columbia?
No. South Carolina workers’ compensation laws are designed to compensate you for any injuries you receive on the job. It is a “no-fault” system, which means regardless of who is at fault for your work-related injury or illness, your employer is obligated to compensate you for your injuries based on a clearly defined formula. In exchange for these benefits, you give up your right to file a personal injury claim against your employer for your injuries.
Additionally, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission does not take pain or suffering into account when determining how much money you receive after your claim. However, if a person other than your employer was at fault for your injuries, you may have a claim against that third party. For example, if you were injured in a car accident while on the job, the other driver may be liable for your injuries, including pain and suffering.
What Are My Rights if I Get Hurt on the Job in Columbia, South Carolina?
The Workers’ Compensation Act of South Carolina provides that if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if he/she suffered any permanent injury as a result of the work accident.
In order to have your medical costs covered by workers’ compensation, you are required to receive medical care from a provider chosen by your employer or their insurance company, unless you are seeking emergency care. You do have the right to choose a physician to evaluate you for a specific disability, but those costs are not covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
You are also protected against retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. The law prohibits your employer from firing you simply for filing the claim.
What Should You Not Say to a Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster?
To maximize your compensation, it is just as important to consider what you shouldn’t say to a workers’ compensation adjuster. The following are things you should not say when speaking with a workers’ comp adjuster:
- Do not agree to be recorded. Although the workers’ compensation process is an administrative process, it is not legally necessary to record interviews with the adjuster.
- Do not provide information about your family situation or financial circumstances. Only provide information relating to your injuries and the accident.
- Do not exaggerate your accident or injuries. Provide the adjuster with as much factual information as possible regarding your accident and injuries, but do not exaggerate.
- Do not downplay the severity of your injuries either. To receive adequate compensation for your injuries, you should be honest about your pain, limitations, and how the injury has affected your daily living.
- Do not admit any fault in your injuries. Even though South Carolina workers’ compensation laws are no-fault, insurance companies may use any admission you make to reduce your compensation.
Do not agree to any settlement or sign any documents. Even if the settlement seems generous, you may be entitled to more. Before agreeing with any settlement, have a workers’ compensation attorney review any documents and offers.
Do You Get a Lump Sum From Workers’ Comp?
Getting your workers’ compensation benefits as a lump sum is possible. However, benefits are typically paid weekly. If your benefits have been continued for at least six weeks, you may request that the payments be made by lump sum. When you request a lump sum payment, the Commission will review the request to ensure it is within your best interest and or has been requested by your employer to prevent undue hardship.
How Long Do Workers’ Comp Settlement Negotiations Take in Columbia, SC?
Workers’ Compensation settlement negotiations typically occur months after your initial filing. Depending on your injuries, current and future medical costs, and other factors, settlement discussion can range anywhere from six weeks to six months.
How Is a Workers’ Comp Settlement Calculated?
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation benefits cover three types of costs:
- Medical benefits. These benefits cover the costs of any necessary medical care to treat your injury, including surgery, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions.
- Wage replacement benefits. These are payments for lost wages if you are unable to work for at least a week due to your work-related injuries. South Carolina wage replacement is based on a formula that pays a rate of 66.6% of your average weekly wage.
- Payments for the level of disability your injuries have caused. There are two types of disability: permanent partial disability (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD), which compensates for injuries based on the severity of the loss of use of specific body parts. Permanent and total disabilities are assigned a fixed amount, based on a schedule of benefits (South Carolina Code of Law, Section 42-9-30).
Contact our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Columbia, SC
The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, P.C. have dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys, case managers, claims managers, and investigators who work together on each case as a team. We are down-to-earth people who care about our clients and want to see them on the road to recovery. If you are unable to come to one of our offices, we will come to you.