Accidents happen. You’re cutting up vegetables at home for a salad and you slice your finger. It’s no one else’s fault. You get whatever first aid you need, maybe even stitches. You might pay for some of that care out of pocket. Insurance will probably cover the rest. You don’t expect someone else to pay. It can be easy to carry that same thought process over to the work environment.
However, workers’ compensation operates in a completely different way. The system in South Carolina and other states is based on the concept of no fault. That is, fault is not an initial matter of concern. Under workers’ compensation, the main objective is to get injured workers the care they need immediately after an injury, and provide financial support to help the injured party recuperate as fully as possible. If an employer claims employee fault as a reason to deny benefits, it should raise a red flag and spark a consultation with an experienced attorney to learn your rights and protect them.
To be clear, it is possible for you to put your benefits at risk under this no-fault system. For example, in South Carolina, the law sets time limits on workers’ compensation action. If you suffer a work-related injury or disease, you must notify your employer as soon as possible, but within 90 days of the occurrence. The window for making a claim for benefits lasts for two years from the time of the incident or the date on which you receive a definitive diagnosis of the illness. Miss these deadlines and you could be ineligible for workers’ compensation.
All these considerations, plus the necessity of filling out myriad reports to exacting standards, can make the workers’ compensation benefit process complicated and frustrating. Worse, it can leave you worried that you haven’t obtained the optimal outcome to which you may be entitled.