Our South Carolina workers compensation attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson often get calls from individuals asking about Maximum Medical Improvement, and the impact it has on their case. Maximum Medical Improvement (or MMI) is a commonly use phrase in workers’ compensation cases in South Carolina. What does it mean when your doctor says you have reached MMI? How does this affect your workers’ compensation case?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions and other head injuries can have devastating long-term consequences. All employers must take proper precautions in order to protect workers from suffering a TBI. Construction workers, in particular, are at high risk.
Unfortunately, far too many construction companies are still falling short of their legal duty to protect the safety of their workers. If you have suffered a construction TBI in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP today to discuss your legal options.
Traumatic Brain Injuries on Construction Sites
TBIs on construction sites are a major problem. Recently, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a report exploring the frequency of traumatic brain injuries in the construction field. The study was included in the March 2016 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
Companies in the North Carolina are facing stiff penalties if they fail to purchase required workers’ compensation insurance to pay for their employees’ workplace injuries and occupational illnesses, according to a recent report by the Raleigh News & Observer.
In the past year, more than 100 employers across the state have been charged with crimes for failing to carry the legally required workers’ compensation insurance, and more than $1 million in fines have been levied against uninsured employers, according to the article. Continue Reading
The loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic and psychologically stressful events that a human being can endure. The stress and pain are only magnified when a loved one’s death is sudden, unexpected and caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another person. This can leave the surviving family members devastated. Not only must they say goodbye to their loved one and process their feelings of grief and anger, they are also left worrying about the costs associated with the funeral and carrying on without their loved one’s contributions.
While a North Carolina or South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit cannot undo a tragic and untimely death, these lawsuits can provide surviving family members with much-needed financial compensation to address the expenses and losses they must endure because of someone else’s wrongdoing.
As a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation lawyer with Grimes Teich Anderson, I represent injured workers from our offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Gaffney, South Carolina.
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the benefits an injured worker should receive if he or she is held out of work by their doctor or their employer cannot accommodate their work restrictions. These benefits, for when a worker is unable to work but is still treating, are known as Temporary Total Disability benefits or TTD, for short. If you are out of work and want to know what benefits you should be receiving, review my earlier posts or give me a call to discuss your case.
Sometimes, however, I have clients that are under work restrictions from their doctor and their employer does offer them work. If the worker is receiving the same income as before their injury they would not be entitled to any pay from their employer’s insurance company. Where entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits can occur is when a worker is being afforded work under their restrictions but they are not being paid as much or receiving as many hours as they were before they were injured.
Here is an example:
Worker is paid $25.00 per hour working at a plant in Greer, South Carolina. She works 40 hours per week and never works overtime. She is injured on the job and the company doctor puts her on light duty. She notifies her employer who offers her a light duty position but she will only receive $10.00 per hour and will only receive 20 hours per week. What is she entitled to? Continue Reading
For work injuries after June 24, 2011, North Carolina Law encourages employers to provide “light duty” positions while the injured worker is recovering from a work injury. These can be made up positions – a job for which the employer couldn’t justify hiring someone to do. Sometimes the tasks are of some use to the company, other times the job is just “make work” that is of little value. In most cases, light duty positions need to be approved by the authorized treating physician and be consistent with the doctor’s work restrictions. Light duty can be a good thing for all concerned if the injured worker can transition back to productive employment with the company.
Sometimes an employer will make life very difficult for an injured worker after they return to work. Supervisors may be verbally abusive, saying things in a humiliating or demeaning manner, or constantly complain about the injured employee’s work. Employers may also require other employees to carry the extra load to compensate for the injured worker’s limitations, which can cause bad feelings. In an abusive situation, the injured worker may feel as if it is better to quit than to agonize over what the employer will say or do next. If the person quits or is fired, and workers compensation benefits do not start up immediately, there will be problems paying their bills. So, that person does the best they can to do what the employer asks so they can keep their job.
A frequent question from our clients is how do contingency fees work? We do almost all of our personal injury work on a contingency fee basis. That means the fee is a percentage of the amount we recover for the client. Depending on the kind of case, contingency fees can range from 25% to 40%. Also depending on the kind of case, certain amounts recovered are not subject to the contingency fee. There is an infinite variety of ways to structure a contingency fee.
Contingency fees have significant advantage over hourly fees. If you hire a lawyer on an hourly basis, typically they are going to require an upfront payment and then bill monthly. The attorney will expect to get paid monthly. If the client stops paying, then the attorney will stop working and move to terminate the relationship. Most insurance companies pay their lawyers either on an hourly basis or sometimes on a flat fee basis. In a contingency fee case, the lawyer gets a part of the recovery. Said another way, the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the client gets paid. Often times our cases run on for years, and most clients can’t afford to pay attorneys on an hourly basis for years. Our clients prefer contingency fees because it is financially the best way for them to hire a lawyer to protect their interest.
Suppose your valid Social Security Disability claim is denied today, and you appeal that denial. How long will it be before your hearing is held in Upstate South Carolina? The wait could be up to 16 months! That is nearly a year and a half – on average – that you’ll have to wait before your appeal is heard, regardless of the validity of your need.
That bracing statistic is accurate as of December 2014 and can be found in the Social Security Administration’s online Public Data Files. The Average Wait Time Until Hearing Held Report presents the average number of months from the hearing request date until a hearing is held for claims pending in local hearing offices across the country.
The 16-month wait is for the Greenville, South Carolina office, which is where your hearing would be held if you reside in Spartanburg or Anderson County, S.C. The 16-month wait is the sixth longest nationwide and is shared by 16 other offices. The longest average wait as of December was 22 months for the Fort Myers, Florida office.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet ownership in the United
States has more than tripled since the 1970’s with about 62% of American households said to have at least one pet in 2012 and 47% of households owning at least one dog. Many of us experience first- hand the joys and benefits of pet ownership. But for those suffering from a mental or physical illness, animals and pets can provide much needed healing and therapeutic benefits.
There are two basic categories of animals that assist the disabled – service animals and therapy animals.
The American Disability Act provides a very specific definition of a “service animal” and as of March 15, 2011 only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA and are defined by the Act as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered pets and are specifically trained to assist a disabled individual with things such as pushing a wheelchair, alerting one to the sounds of smoke alarms, timers, and telephones; or picking up and carrying
items for an individual. While many therapy animals are specifically trained to provide therapeutic benefits to the disabled, they are not service animals and do not have the same rights to public buildings as service animals. They do, however, provide many healing benefits to the disabled and their families and have been found to significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue for people suffering from mental and physical disabilities. Continue Reading
A benefit provided by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation system is out of work pay when an individual is unable to work due to their work injury. This benefit is known as Temporary Total Disability benefits or TTD. You become entitled to this benefit while treating for your work injury when your doctor either writes you out of work completely or more commonly, places restrictions on you that your employer cannot accommodate. Many times an injured worker needs to consider hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney because because the insurance company has not started their checks, is threatening to cut off their checks, or has cut off their checks. This creates a tremendous burden on the worker because, even though the checks have stopped, the bills have not. Sometimes, an insurance company will use other tactics to try and limit your benefits, by paying you less each week than the law says you are entitled. So what are you entitled to receive each week?
How is The Pay Owed Calculated?
Generally, an injured worker is entitled to 2/3 of their Average Weekly wage from the year prior to the accident. For example, let’s say you were injured on July 1, 2014. The insurance company is required to submit what is known as a South Carolina Form 20 to the Workers Compensation Commission that documents your wages before taxes from July 31, 2013 to July 31, 2014. These gross wages are divided by 52 weeks, and your Average Weekly Wage is determined. Your Compensation Rate is the amount you should receive each week from the insurance company and is 2/3 of your Average Weekly Wage.