Fulton & Barr, Attorneys at Law
Fulton & Barr: The Legal Pad
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
If you become injured at work, please know that you are not alone.
According to South Carolina’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (SCOSHA), over 47,000 cases of non-fatal occupational work injuries and illnesses occurred in South Carolina in 2012. That equals over 125 non-fatal work injuries and illnesses occurring every day in SC in 2012. Those injuries range from falls and cuts to repetitive-strain injuries (ex. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) to more serious hazardous injuries.
Regardless of the type of injury endured and industry you work in, you should not suffer in silence. All employees deserve compensation for work-injury accidents, but it takes more than having the right to receive compensation. The system can be confusing and we want to help you get through it.
Follow these five, simple steps below to ensure that you correctly inform your employer and prepare yourself to get the compensation you deserve.
- Be informed, know your rights before you get injured.
The SC Bar states, “…an employee [who] suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation, and specifically permanent and total disability benefits.”
This means that any accident that happens while you are employed and working should be covered under workers’ compensation. It doesn’t matter if you caused the accident, the employer caused the accident or another employee caused the accident. It’s all covered under workers’ compensation law.
Note: If the injury was caused by malfunctioning machinery or defective products, you may be eligible for a product liability case against the third party manufacturer; however, you still need to file the initial workers’ compensation claim.
Your workers’ compensation benefits could include: medical expenses, paid leave/time-off, a differential for personal miles traveled for medical treatment, and potentially permanent and total disability income.
- Tell your employer about the injury right away.
As soon as the injury occurs, tell your employer immediately.
Note: If you are suffering from a repetitive-strain injury (RSI), it’s important to let your employer know as soon as you think this could be a problem. Since RSI’s happen over a period of mini-accidents, determining the onset of this injury will take additional medical review.
In S.C., employers have the right to select the doctor who treats you. If you go to your own doctor, they could refuse to pay for it. Notify your employer and they can coordinate your care from the beginning, then you don’t have to worry about them disputing the charges later.
Note: During an emergency situation, you have more leeway to get whatever assistance you can, as soon as you possibly can. But, if you are on work premises, do your best to inform your employer and allow them to call for emergency assistance.
- Seek medical assistance right away.
The longer you wait it out, the harder it will be to prove that the injury occurred while at work. Save yourself the run-around—tell your employer and get it checked out right away. What may at-first seem like something minor, could develop into a major health issue. This is not the time to “tough it out,” no matter what anyone says to you (employers included!), report the injury and get help.
- Be your own bookkeeper.
From the onset of injury, keep track of all forms and medical files.
Ask for copies of everything and date and time stamp every paper to keep a timeline of what’s happening.
Keep a contact list and call/email log of all interactions with doctors, specialists, nurses, HR personnel, workers’ compensation claim management, and witnesses and managers on-duty during the accident. Remember to update your log right after any interaction (So you don’t forget any important information!) include the date and time of interactions, summary of discussion and copies of any written correspondence (For example: email, letter, text message etc…).
Be thorough when filing out the work-injury accident report. Be your own investigative reporter, tell your story by covering everything from what lead up to the injury, to how the injury occurred and what happened immediately afterward—duly noting that you notified your employer right away. Don’t forget to include the names of witnesses, so they can confirm what happened during the incident as well.
Note: If you have temporary memory loss, due to being unconscious during/after the accident, make sure you state that on the report—just in case, you recall more from the situation after filing the report.
Most important of all: Keep copies of all medical records related to the accident, injury and treatment. This should also include information about previous injuries or conditions aggravated by the accidental work injury.
Store all of this information in one file or folder and keep it in a safe place. This is YOUR evidence and is vital to receiving worker’s compensation benefits.
- Get help from experienced workers’ compensation attorneys.
Call Fulton & Barr for a free initial consultation of your workers’ compensation claim. Bring your evidence file and they can review your case and help you get what’s rightfully yours.
With 40 years of combined experience in helping workers receive benefits from on-the-job injuries, they will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
You don’t have to fight this battle alone, call Fulton & Barr, Attorneys at Law today, toll-free (800) 868-2110.