The Workers’ Compensation Laws in South Carolina provide workers with a legal framework wherein they can be compensated for injuries a worker may sustain during the course of their employment. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission administers the state’s workers’ compensation system and oversees the administration and decision-making. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney can help you understand the injured person’s rights at an informal conference with insurance in Charleston and how to file your claim.
Role of a South Carolina Employer
Pursuant to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, every employer in the state is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. However, there are certain classifications that are exempt from the required worker’s compensation insurance requirements.
Under S.C.Code § 42-1-360 employers are not required to provide worker’s compensation coverage for the following employees:
- Agricultural employees
- Employers who employ less than four regular, part-time, full-time employees
- Casual employees
- State and County fair associations;
- Federal employees;
- Railroads companies
- Employers who have a total annual payroll of less than $3,000, regardless of the number of workers employed during that period
In addition to these classifications of employees, commercial drivers who are considered owner-operators and real estate agents, are paid solely through commission are exempt from coverage under S.C.Code § 42-1-360 (9) and S.C.Code § 42-1-360 (7).
If a worker is injured on the job they should immediately report the injury to their employer as well as seek medical treatment if necessary. If a worker is injured during the course of their employment and files the necessary paperwork, an insurance company may order what is known as an informal conference.
An informal conference, which is also known as a “viewing” is a meeting between a worker, a representative from the employer’s insurance company and a Commissioner from the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission or a claims mediator. There is an opportunity to acknowledge the injured person’s rights at an informal conference with insurance in Charleston and to meet face-to-face to discuss their injuries and attempt to reach a settlement for their injuries.
Rights at an Informal Conference
The purpose of an informal conference is to try and reach an agreement between an injured worker and the worker’s insurance carrier. While these meetings tend to be rather brief, and on average last about 15 minutes, this does not mean that a worker does not have rights, or that the decisions that may be made during an informal conference are not important.
An employee has the following rights:
- To ask Questions
- A review of their claim
- A fair settlement
- To not accept
- To have a lawyer
Defining Entitlements in a Conference
An informal conference is presided over by a representative from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission who will be able to answer questions an injured worker may have about their claim. During an informal conference, a representative from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission or the commissioner will review an injured workers medical reports and injuries. In addition, a worker is entitled to discuss whether or not they have a permanent disability, and whether they will need further medical care and treatment.
The entire purpose of an informal conference is to reach a settlement agreement between an injured worker and the insurance company. However, many people may feel intimidated by insurance company representatives who are well versed in the law and procedures. However, the commissioner or mediator will help ensure that there is a fair settlement offer based on a worker’s injury.
There is a common misconception that a settlement has to be reached during the discussion of the injured person’s rights at an informal conference in Charleston. However, this is not true. If a worker does not agree to a settlement offer, or if the representative or commissioner does not think that the settlement is fair to all parties, workers have a right to a formal hearing before the Jurisdictional Commissioner. During an informal conference, an injured worker has the right to be represented by a lawyer. Some workers may feel pressured to only appear on their own behalf, however, it is important for workers to remember they have a right to legal representation.
Contacting a Lawyer
If you have been injured while at work, contact a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer today to discuss your case. You may be entitled to payments for medical care and treatment as well as lost wages and permanent disability payments. A South Carolina Workers’ Compensation lawyer can provide you with guidance and support throughout the entire process and can help you evaluate the fairness of any settlement offer and/or award during an informal conference.