While some types of occupations, such as construction work or firefighting, have inherent dangers, the fact of the matter is that anyone can suffer a workplace injury or illness. Even if you work in an office you could trip over torn carpet or injure yourself trying to lift something heavy. Therefore, it is important for all residents of South Carolina to understand their rights with regards to workers' compensation, including the right to a hearing.
Unfortunately, sometimes a worker's initial claim for workers' compensation benefits is denied by the employer's insurance carrier. When this happens, a hearing can be scheduled where the worker can present his or her claim to the workers' compensation Commissioner assigned to one's case. This person will serve as fact finder at the hearing and will also issue an official ruling on the law. Hearings are generally scheduled within three to five months.
In general, the doctor who treated the worker will not be at the hearing. Instead, depositions will be taken that will serve as medical testimony at the hearing. Medical records both from the worker and the carrier will also be reviewed by the Commissioner.
After the hearing is held, the Commissioner will issue a decision called the "Opinion and Award." This consists of the Commissioner's findings on the facts and law and whether the worker is entitled to benefits. If the worker is not satisfied with this ruling, then he or she can pursue an appeal before the entire Workers' Compensation Commission.
It is important for workers to understand that just because their initial claim for benefits was denied, this is not the end of the road. A hearing can be held, and an appeal can be pursued if necessary following the hearing. However, these are situations in which it is necessary to have a good understanding of the law and how it applies to the facts of your case. Therefore, many workers in such situations will seek professional guidance before moving forward with a hearing or appeal.