When people think of injuries in the workplace, they often think of accidents or specific one-time circumstances that lead to an injury. While many injuries happen in this fashion, many others don’t. Workers can sometimes sustain an illness or other medical condition due to being frequently exposed to certain things such as asbestos or radiation. They may be diagnosed with cancer, black lung, or COPD. Still, others may sustain an injury due to overexertion or overuse. No matter what type of work-related injury or illness you sustained, it’s always best to have a skilled South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer on your side through this process.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program. It was created to cover injuries and illnesses that occur due to work-related job duties. It is a no-fault system, meaning that the employee can’t personally file a legal claim against the employer, and the employer, under most circumstances, can’t blame the injured employee for their injuries.
Injured workers who are eligible to receive workers’ compensation are entitled to:
You can receive compensation for missed work hours at the rate of 66.6 percent of your average weekly wage. It is calculated based on the earnings from the previous four quarters before the injury. However, it can’t be greater than the maximum average weekly wage determination made each year by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. Employees who happen to be working more than one job when they are injured may be able to include all wages as a part of their weekly wage which determines their compensation rate.
Take note that there is a seven-day waiting period to receive payments. Once you are out of work for more than seven days, you are eligible to begin receiving payments. If you end up being out of work for more than two weeks, you will receive compensation that includes payment for the first seven days.
Medical care is also covered. In case of emergency, seek medical treatment right away from the nearest hospital or emergency department. Generally, workers’ compensation insurance covers these bills. If it is not an emergency or if the emergency has passed, you must see the doctor or choose from the list of doctors approved by your employer or the workers’ comp system. If you see a doctor outside of their plan and it’s not an emergency, you will likely have to pay those bills yourself.
You can also receive benefits for travel to the pharmacy or medical appointments. However, this only applies if the round-trip distance is more significant than ten miles from your home. You should be reimbursed for the round-trip mileage at the rate allowed to state employees for mileage.
Disability is another covered benefit. Suppose you will be out of work for an extended period or won’t continue to perform your job duties ever. In that case, you are entitled to disability payments. However, these benefits are often more difficult to receive because they are long-term. With a qualified South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer by your side, your disability benefits claim could be more successful.
Overexertion Injuries by the Numbers
It may come as a surprise, but overexertion is the primary type of non-fatal injury that leads to missed workdays. Overexertion and bodily reactions account for 31 percent of all of these injuries. The median days away from work for all work injury/illness events or exposures in 2019 were eigh. The median for overexertion injuries was 13 days.
Upper extremities (primarily those involving the shoulder) accounted for 31 percent, trunk injuries (mostly back injuries) represented 44 percent. In comparison, lower extremity injuries (mostly knee injuries) made up 17 percent. Regarding the nature of these injuries, 66 percent were sprains, strains, or tears, soreness and pain were 21 percent, and carpal tunnel syndrome was two percent.
Industries most likely to have overexertion injuries include:
- Service providing industries: 78 percent
- Trade, transportation, and utilities: 37 percent
- Retail trade: 14 percent
- Wholesale trade: 8 percent
- Transportation and warehousing: 14 percent
- Goods-producing industries: 22 percent
- Education and health services: 21 percent
What Causes Overexertion Injuries?
Typically, worker activities that can cause overexertion injuries include:
Some more specific examples include:
- Repetitive motions
- Excessive lifting or moving objects
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Awkward posture or positioning to complete a task
- Completing physical labor without the proper equipment
- Use of force to complete a task
Injuries resulting from motion that causes stress or strain on some part of the body due to the repetitive nature of the task usually don’t involve strenuous effort, like heavy lifting. Everyday repetitive work activities that could cause overexertion injuries include:
- Using a computer mouse
- Packaging goods
- Stocking shelves
- Repetitive use of manual tools including screwdrivers, knives, musical or medical instruments
Work injuries arising from a single or prolonged instance of free bodily motion include:
- Walking or running without another incident such as lower-level or same-level falls
It’s important to note that worker overexertion injuries can be caused by many other activities and motions, many of which are not included in these lists.
What Deadlines Should Potential Workers’ Compensation Claimants Know About?
Anyone who sustains a workplace injury or illness should be aware of some crucial deadlines. Lacking knowledge about these deadlines or not adhering to them can lead to a denied workers’ comp or personal injury claim.
Most injured workers know about their injury the day that it happens. They have two years to file a workers’ comp claim. However, they only have 90 days to report the injury to their employer.
Suppose an employee succumbs to their work-related injuries. In that case, their dependents (or their parents if there are no dependents) have up to two years after the death to file a claim for workers’ comp benefits.
Exceptions to Legal Deadlines
For workers who have a work-related illness or overexertion or overuse injury, they have the same amount of time. However, the clock doesn’t start running until the day they are diagnosed with their injury or should have reasonably known about their injury.
If the injured worker is a minor under 18, the clock doesn’t run until their 18th birthday. In cases where the employee is mentally incapacitated or cognitively disabled due to their workplace injury, the clock doesn’t start until the incapacity or disability ends or when they die.
Deadlines for Personal Injury Claims
Sometimes, injured workers can file a personal injury claim in addition to their workers’ comp claim. However, they cannot file a personal injury claim against their employers or any coworkers. A personal injury claim will only be viable if their injuries involved a defective piece of equipment or machinery or a third party, such as a contractor or subcontractor, contributed to their injury. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations or deadline to file a personal injury claim is three years from the date of their injury.
Suppose an injured party fails to adhere to any of these deadlines. In that case, they will more than likely lose their ability to seek compensation for their injuries. It’s essential to hire an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after your injury. This will help ensure that you are aware of the critical deadlines involved in your case and that you don’t miss any of them.
What to Do If You Suffer an Overexertion Injury at Work
You try your best to follow the appropriate procedures, use the correct equipment for the job, and stay safe while working. However, you can still suffer an overexertion injury. Here’s what you should do if you are injured on the job:
- Get medical attention—if you are severely injured, go to the nearest emergency room. If not, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible after your injury. You can check with your employer to determine which workers’ comp insurance covers doctors in the area.
- Inform your supervisor—Take this step as soon as possible. You can also report it to the director of human resources at your workplace. Don’t wait to see if your injury will improve or for it to get worse.
- Get an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney on your side—Don’t accept any workers’ compensation settlements until you have met and discussed your claim with an attorney.
Did You Suffer an Overexertion Injury On the Job? An Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
When you hire an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney at the Davie Aylor Law Offices, you have a dedicated workers’ comp advocate on your side. We can help you with every aspect of your claim and work to maximize your compensation. Contact us online or call (843) 744-4444 today to schedule a complimentary South Carolina workers’ comp case evaluation. The sooner you reach out, the more we can help your claim.