Some workers’ compensation cases are straightforward: An employee is injured at work, and the system pays for his or her medical treatment, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation, even if the injury was their fault. In cases like these, an attorney may be needed if there is a delay in benefit payments or medical treatment. Other cases, however, are much more complex, according to Adam Greene, an attorney at the Steinberg Law Firm.
When a case involves serious, lifelong injuries, particularly a brain injury, quadriplegia or paraplegia, the case can quickly become complicated and require the assistance of an attorney experienced in the strategies and tactics used to deny or limit worker benefits.
As an example, he cited the case of a person who was working at a stable. While she was changing a horse’s shoes, the animal kicked her in the head, causing a subdural hematoma that required emergency surgery. She recovered, “to a certain extent,” Greene says, but, for the rest of her life, she’ll have to deal with emotional issues, short-term and long-term memory loss, vision problems and dizziness. Using the medical evidence – depositions from doctors and expert opinions on what the patient can expect in the future – an experienced attorney can help make certain she gets the maximum benefits she is entitled to receive.
Greene has seen the workers’ compensation system from both sides. Prior to joining the Steinberg Law Firm, he worked in the workers’ comp major case division with a large legal firm, defending insurance carriers against the claims of employees who had been hurt on the job.
“I came to Steinberg Law Firm to help the injured workers of South Carolina,” he says. “I enjoy having a real person for a client. I can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s less about the bottom line and more about helping people.”
Greene represented another complex case that involved an employee who developed cauda equina syndrome, an issue with the nerves that send and receive messages to and from the lower limbs and pelvic organs. The employee eventually became a paraplegic, probably the result of repeated bending and lifting.
Greene points out that the workers’ compensation system provides a maximum of 500 weeks of benefits. He added, however, that there are exceptions to this rule, especially for people who suffer a brain injury or develop other issues that will be with them for the rest of their lives. This situation can result from a variety of accidents, including motor vehicle crashes, falling down a mineshaft, a hole in a floor or from a roof, back injuries from lifting, or a pipe falling and striking a person in the head, Greene says.
“With major cases that involve traumatic brain injuries that are permanent in nature, quadriplegia or paraplegia, the system allows for lifetime weekly payments and lifetime medical treatment related to the injury,” Greene notes.
Some cases can fall into the realm of both workers’ compensation and personal injury. For example, if a worker is injured while driving a delivery van that is struck by another vehicle, the case may be compensated through both the workers’ comp system and a claim against the at-fault driver.
If you suffer an injury at work, Greene says the first two things you should do is seek medical treatment and report the accident to your supervisor. You have 90 days to do so, but the sooner the better is always the best scenario, he notes.
“Don’t assume that you are not entitled to benefits if it was your fault or you have a pre-existing condition,” Greene says. “Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system and aggravations to existing conditions are compensable under South Carolina law.”
Have you been injured at work? Are you confused about what to do next? For a free consultation, contact the Steinberg Law Firm, which has offices in Charleston, Summerville, and Goose Creek. Call 843-720-2800. The firm does not charge a fee until they collect compensation for you. For additional information, visit steinberglawfirm.com.