You Must Notify Your Employer Immediately
The very first thing you need to do following your work accident is to notify your employer of your injury. Whether it’s contacting a supervisor, manager, human resources, or anyone who is able to act on behalf of the employer. Most companies have forms called First Report of Injury forms that will be completed to document any injury or accident at work. However, you should not rely solely on your employer to document your accident. If possible, make sure that some type of form or record is completed to document your work injury at the time of its occurrence.
A common defense to many workers’ compensation claims is failure to properly notify your employer of the injury. Under South Carolina law, an employee must notify their employer of their work injury within ninety (90) days of the accident. Failure to notify your employer in the requisite time period can be a complete defense to your claim and can prevent you from receiving the benefits you may be entitled to. Although the law allows ninety (90) days to report your work injury to your employer, it is best that you notify your employer immediately following an accident or as soon as you know that you are hurt.
You Must Notify the Proper Insurance Carrier
Usually, your employer will notify their insurance carrier of any work injury following the accident. However, a diligent workers’ compensation attorney will always verify coverage of your current employer through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Verification System and notify that carrier of the accident and injury.
You Must be Forthcoming and Truthful About Your Injuries
When you notify your employer of your work injury, and when meeting with your treating doctors, you need to be as forthcoming and honest as you can about all of your injuries You need to let the employer know any and all body parts that are hurting as soon as possible. You also need to be sure to describe, in detail, the circumstances of the accident and how it occurred. Details such as whether there were any witnesses present to see your accident or if there was a certain location or object involved that may have contributed to your accident is important information in pursing your claim.
Although it is important to tell your employer and doctors about all of your injures and affected body parts to the best of your ability, it is also important that you are honest and not exacerbating or making up injuries to other body parts. Making up or exaggerating injuries will not get you more benefits or compensation that you are not entitled to. If anything, it will only delay your claim and possibly prevent you from recovering the benefits you would otherwise be entitled to for your injury.
You Must Follow the Doctors’ Orders
One of the biggest surprises most people have when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim is that the employer chooses what doctor you will treat with. In essence, you will not be able to go to your normal family doctor or choose any physician to your liking. The main reason for this is because there are only certain doctors that will accept workers compensation insurance and are familiar with the system and how it works. With that said, these doctors are still qualified physicians with particular specialties that are fully qualified to treat their patients.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely vital that you attend all appointments with your doctors. A failure to do so can suspend your benefits immediately. Second, it is absolutely vital that you comply with all of your doctor’s orders. This includes any referrals he may make to other doctors or any work restrictions he may give you. Following the doctors’ orders is always your best bet.
You Must Still Work if You Are Able To Do So
Just as you must listen to your doctors in regards to your medical treatment, you must also follow their discretion when determining your work restrictions and ability to work. For example, if your doctor places you on light duty restrictions following your work accident, and your employer is able to accommodate your light duty restrictions, you will still be required to return to work under your employer’s accommodations. If you are unable to earn the same amount of wages due to your work restrictions, you would be entitled to partial temporary disability benefits to make up for the difference between your pre-injury wages and post-injury wages. An experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get all of the benefits you are entitled to after your work injury.
If you have been hurt at work, contact our Charleston, South Carolina workers' compensation lawyer to schedule a free consultation to learn about your rights and benefits.