Accidents happen on the job every day across the U.S., including right here in South Carolina. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-industry employers reported approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses last year alone.
Injured employees are sometimes reluctant to file workers’ compensation claims due to fear of being fired by their employer. Workers’ compensation exists for the benefit of protecting injured workers. Claiming benefits should not be an issue of concern if you are hurt on the job.
South Carolina law protects employees from workplace retaliation or termination by their employer due to an on-the-job accident or occupational illness that results in a workers’ compensation claim. The law penalizes employers who take adverse action against employees due to a workers’ compensation claim.
Injured employees have a right to seek medical treatment and recover from their injuries before returning to work. The law protects those who are injured from retaliation by their employer for filing a claim. It also prevents employers from firing an employee for reporting an injury in the workplace or for seeking benefits through a worker’s compensation claim.
These protections exist to ensure that workers are protected from retaliatory practices and to ensure that employers pay attention to workplace safety standards and do not merely fire employees who report injuries or hazards in the office or on the job site.
What Protection Does the Law Provide for Workers’ Compensation Claimants?
If you are injured at work, you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. You may be entitled to compensation for medical care, as well as temporary disability benefits that will give you supplemental payments for lost wages due to missed work. After you have filed a claim, your employer is responsible for giving the paperwork to their insurance carrier. As the injured worker, you are protected explicitly from retaliation or termination and must be given the time you need for treatment, therapy, and recovery.
According to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, “Every employee and employer is presumed to be covered by the State’s Workers’ Compensation Act,” with certain narrow exceptions for federal workers, employees at companies that employ fewer than four people, railroad employees, and a few others.
Employers are required to keep injured workers on through the duration of their workers’ compensation claim until a doctor certifies that they have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI certification comes when the doctor or other medical professional declares that the person will not improve any further from the injury. Once this determination has been reached, the employer needs to evaluate the employee for return to work and must make “reasonable accommodations” to their schedule, work conditions, and duties, to allow the employee to return to their previous position. The employer should do all that they can to assist the employee in returning to work, if medically possible.
What If My Employer Fires Me for Another Reason?
Occasionally, unscrupulous employers may try to justify the firing of an injured employee by giving a false reason for termination. For example, they may claim that the employee was about to be fired before the accident for excessive tardiness or poor performance. If this happens, an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help you.
You should not have to deal with retaliation or wrongful termination if you have reported an injury accident on the job. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the law firm of Mickle & Bass have the experience necessary to help you seek the benefits and justice that you deserve – and to take action to prevent unfair negative employment consequences.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
To be eligible for workers’ compensation in South Carolina, you must meet the three basic requirements for eligibility, including:
- Your employer must carry workers’ compensation coverage or must be required to carry it by state law.
- The company must employ you.
- You must have been injured due to an accident in the workplace or fallen ill due to workplace conditions.
If you meet the necessary eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim and may be protected from unlawful termination or retaliation by your employer. If your employer fails to report your accident, denies your claim, or does not provide you with the benefits you are owed, you may be able to request a hearing with a workers’ compensation commissioner.
Why You Need a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have been hurt on the job or if you became seriously ill due to workplace conditions, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. While some workers may fear that reporting an injury at work will lead to termination, there are strong protections for injured workers to shield them from wrongful termination and retaliation.
Workers’ compensation benefits exist to allow you to recover, secure payment for medical expenses and lost wages, and return to work when you are healthy enough to do so, all without fear of negative consequences. If your employer fails to provide you with the benefits you are owed, or if you are wrongfully terminated in violation of state law, you should immediately contact the South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Mickle & Bass.
For many years, our attorneys have helped numerous people secure the workers’ compensation benefits they need in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, and across the state. We know that a severe injury on the job can cause serious stress and strain on your life, which is why we have committed our careers to helping those who are hurt in South Carolina seek the compensation and benefits they deserve.
Contact a knowledgeable member of our team by phone or online today to schedule a free consultation.