How Do I Get Paid For An On-The-Job Injury?
Whether you were just injured and you need help navigating the workers' comp system, or you have had problems with a nurse case manager or your employer forcing you back to work too soon, it is important to get legal help. Then you can receive the payments to which you are entitled so you can begin to move forward with your life.
As a Spartanburg/Greenville injured worker attorney and founder of the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices, I have been helping injured workers for more than 35 years. I will review your case, advise you on the steps to take and bring your complaint to the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission to appeal an unjust action. I am committed to protecting the rights of injured workers.PROBLEMS WITH COMPENSATION FOR A WORKPLACE INJURY
If you were injured on the job, you should receive a workers' comp benefit check every week until the doctor determines that you have reached "maximum medical improvement (MMI)" Maximum medical improvement means the doctor does not think you are going to get any better no matter how much more treatment you receive. After that point, the doctor will say how much permanent disability remains and you will receive a lump-sum payment.
Two problems can interfere with you getting your workers' comp check or the correct amount of lump-sum payment for a permanent disability:
- Your employer or your employer's doctor may make you go back to work too soon, jeopardizing your health and your ability to collect workers' comp.
- The worker's comp system may not understand the degree of your disability and may pay you less than you should be paid.
Insurance companies employ nurse case managers to "manage" treatment for injured workers. In truth, these nurses are little more than insurance company spies. They convince the treating doctor that the employee can return to work on "light duty" even in a less-than-recovered condition. The doctor writes a letter saying the employee can go back to work.
Inevitably what happens next is that the employee returns to work but the company puts him or her back on the old job, failing to make accommodations for carpal tunnel injuries, repetitive stress injuries or back injuries. Weekly benefits end but the employee is struggling or perhaps completely unable to perform the work. Now the worker is not only not getting paid, he or she is vulnerable to being fired.
In such cases I work to make sure the doctor is aware of what is really going on with the employee. I provide evidence to the insurance carrier that benefits were wrongfully ended. If the insurance carrier does not reverse its decision, I ask for a hearing before the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission. It typically takes 90 days from the time of filing to get a hearing.COMPENSATION FOR PERMANENT DISABILITY/IMPAIRMENTS
When your doctor says you have received maximum recovery, he or she will determine how much permanent disability you have suffered. This is communicated as a percentage of impairment. For example, your doctor may say that your back injury or repetitive stress injury has resulted in a 10 percent impairment.
When arriving at a decision about how much you should receive as a lump-sum payment, the workers' compensation system looks at "disability." This is not necessarily the same as "impairment." So while your doctor may have said you have a 10 percent impairment, as your lawyer, it is my job to translate that into disability to ensure you receive the correct amount of financial recovery. For example:
- If you are a waitress, a 10 percent back impairment may mean you cannot lift a heavy tray to bus tables. You may be 100 percent disabled as far as your job is concerned because you cannot do an essential task of your job.
- If you work in a call center and you fell and suffered a brain injury that has caused you to speak slowly or slur your words, you can still speak and therefore have only a partial impairment, but you can no longer do phone work so you are 100 percent disabled.
If you believe the lump-sum permanent disability payment you were offered is too low, if the insurer has offered you 15 percent compensation for 15 percent impairment, call my office. They may be trying to underpay you for your actual degree of injury.
I can request a hearing before the Workers' Compensation Commission to argue that you are entitled to a greater payment for your permanent disability after a work accident or work-related illness.CONTACT A SPARTANBURG & GREENVILLE WORKERS' COMPENSATION ATTORNEY
If you have been injured at work, you should get legal help to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation. Contact me, a Spartanburg/Greenville injured worker lawyer, online. Consultations are free and confidential.