by: Joy D. Stoney, Esq.
I've been helping people navigate the legal system for over 13 years and I can help you as well. I always talk in plan language so you can understand the legal system a lot better.
If you are single, your paycheck at work is your sole means of support and getting money back into your bank account after an injury is critical, but if you're married it's not much easier. Your income is likely a major portion of your family’s budget and will be sorely missed once you’re out of work. Many people look to the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Act and the benefits it gives to injured workers for solutions. An injury at work affects the entire family and has a major impact on many aspects of their lives. The most obvious impact is a financial one, which I will discuss in this post but there are others, many of them not as obvious as finances. It is estimated that 66 million Americans do not have any money saved for an emergency. When an emergency does occur, many families go into a free fall, losing many of the possessions. When you’re injured at work, medical treatment is of utmost importance and the added pressure of not being able to pay your bills is a consequence most people never factor in. If you fall into the category of those who do not have a savings account for an emergency how will you pay for your bills? How do you manage your finances when you are no longer able to work? Who pays the bills when you do not have sick leave or vacation pay to fall back on in the short term?
There are many moving parts associated with obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, and the process can take quite some time before you receive temporary total disability payments. For example, a doctor has to excuse you from work for at least seven (7) days before any disability benefits are payable to you. Depending on what time of the month this seven days falls, many people have their bills automatically drafted out of their accounts. If you haven’t worked in the last seven days, your paycheck will likely fall short of your monthly obligations, causing insufficient fund notices and bank fees to pile up.
If you are able to survive the seven day wait period prior to receiving benefits, (which of course receiving the first check may take much longer), I must inform you there are some additional headaches you must figure out. Temporary total disability benefits under the workers’ compensation system pays only 66 2/3rds of you average weekly wage? Huh? I’m sure this comes as a shock that your full income won’t be paid while you’re rehabilitating from you injury, but it’s true. Receiving 2/3rds of your income leaves a 1/3rd gap in your monthly budget.
A gap you and your family will have to close on your own. There is a lot more that goes into workers' compensation than most folks realize.
The moral of this story: Save, save, save. No one plans to be injured at work, hurt in a car accident, or any other type of mishap, but when it happens you and your family will have to figure out the finances for the family. If you don’t have any savings and find yourself in a shortfall, when temporary total disability benefits begin, you may never be able to catch up. Do yourself a favor and protect you and your family against financial disaster. It will go a long way towards you and your family’s recovery after an injury. Call us at the Stoney Law Firm. We will help you get through this ordeal and save you many of the headaches associated with a work injury.
When you’re injured at work there are a number of questions that start going through your mind. How am I going to pay for the hospital bills? Do I use my health insurance? How am I going to pay my bills now that I can’t work? Does my supervisor know I was hurt and can’t work tomorrow? Will I be fired now that I can’t work? All of these questions and others go unanswered and you also have to deal with the pain associated with injury. But how do you know the benefits to which you are entitled? Early on it not apparent whether your employer has filed a claim for you and it could be days before you hear from an insurance carrier. Of course, this is when the insurance company agrees to provide benefits.
In South Carolina, the workers’ compensation system is designed to assist injured workers with many of the dilemmas associated with work injury. Navigating the system when there are so many individuals involved can be a daunting task, especially when faced with many of the questions we previously covered. So here is a basic list to help familiarize you with the system.
1) First and foremost, workers’ compensation pays medical bills for treatment associated with your injury. There is a process for obtaining this treatment and requires a separate article.
2) You are entitled to reimbursement for mileage traveling to doctor’s appointments.
3) If you’re unable to work while treating with the doctor, you’re eligible for temporary total disability benefits equal to 66 2/3rds of your average weekly wage.
4) If you’re unable to return to work performing your pre-injury job, there are services available to help you find other employment.
5) If the worker is killed as a result of a work injury, their spouse, children and other dependents are eligible for death benefits. There is also an amount of money available for funeral expenses.
6) Once released from the doctor, you may be entitled to compensation for any permanent disability associated with your injury. These include:
a) Permanent Partial Disability
b) Permanent Total Disability