When someone is hurt on the job, the injuries can be far more catastrophic than the immediate physical harm. Beyond the broken bones and painful surgeries that might come right away, there are lasting effects that can haunt a person for years to come. In fact, sometimes the real losses are not fully understood until years after the injury. This is why it is so important to get skilled legal representation from the outset in order to protect your rights. But what is a workers’ compensation claim, and how can you win one?
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws
Every state has a statute that allows for compensating injured workers. Long ago, employers would simply fire employees who were hurt on the job, because they were no longer considered valuable. If an employee wanted to be compensated for his or her injuries, then a lawsuit was the only way. This obviously created a lot of litigation and plenty of unhappy companies. On one hand, companies had a lot of uncertainty trying to figure out how much they would have to pay if a worker was hurt on the job. Two people with the same injury might recover completely different amounts based on the skill of their attorneys or the jury that heard the case. This made it difficult for companies to plan for potential liability.
On the other hand, employees had to go to court to get anything. Hence, workers’ compensation laws were created to make sure everyone had an equitable means of being paid, regardless of negligence. Today, qualifying employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance, which will pay injured employees without the need for a lawsuit.
Is Workers’ Compensation Based on Negligence?
In theory, the employer needs not be negligent for the worker to be compensated. Likewise, in theory, the insurance company should pay when an employee is injured. However, there is an entire legal field devoted to fighting employers and their insurance companies because they so frequently attempt to get out of paying employees on valid claims. This is just like insurance companies trying to avoid paying claims for automobile injuries. It is in the insurance company’s best interests to reduce liability. Therefore, if you are injured, you must understand that the employer and the insurance company are not on your side. The process is completely adversarial, and you should have your own independent legal counsel throughout the process.
The Key to Winning
Most injured workers who lose their claims do so because they make key errors early in the process. In most cases, these are avoidable mistakes. For instance, an injured worker may decide at first to not report the injury. In South Carolina, you have just 90 days to report the injury; however, even if you report in time, your claim might be denied due to other reasons caused by the delay. Similarly, some workers who are denied their claims may fail to appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commission within the required time. Simple deadlines are the quickest way to lose your case.
If you are injured on the job in South Carolina, do not rely on your employer or the insurance company to give you the information you need. Consult Callihan & Syracuse today to schedule a free consultation.