TIMELY FILINGS, VOLUNTEERS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

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The thirteen-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is the deadline for all those who worked on 9/11 and its aftermath around Ground Zero to sign up for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation benefits are also available to residents of other states and those who are currently not sick, as New York officials encourage workers to sign up because it would preserve their right to receive benefits if they do get sick in the future. So far, more than 40,000 people have registered for the benefit, but there may be thousands who worked on Ground Zero who would lose their right to file for workers’ compensation benefits if they miss the deadline.

The Importance of Being Timely in South Carolina

Thankfully, workers’ compensation claims arising from a tragic event like 9/11 arise from are not the norm, but ordinary workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina have time limits too.  The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission states that in the event of an injury, employees should immediately report it to their employers and request medical treatment if needed. An employee must file a report with his employer within 90 days after the workplace injury lest they risk losing out on workers’ compensation. If the employer does not report the accident to the Commission, denies the employee workers’ compensation claims or if the employee thinks he or she did not receive the full benefit they were entitled to, the employee should submit Form 50 or Form 52 to the Commission. It would be wise for the employee to consult with an attorney who is experienced with workers’ compensation claims so they can plan and decide on the best course of action.

Under the workers’ compensation program, an eligible employee is entitled to all necessary medical treatment that would likely decrease the disability. The benefit may include but is not limited to surgery, hospitalization, prosthetic devices, medical supplies and prescriptions, but only if the employee goes to a doctor approved of by the employer or the insurance company. But depending on the nature of the injury, the employer or the insurance company may not cover treatment from a specialist. If an employee’s injuries are complex or require a specialist, it would be wise to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.

The New York State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board should accept claims from 9/11 volunteers who worked in rescue, cleanup and recovery efforts, but were not members of an authorized rescue entity. But in South Carolina, volunteers are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. According to the Commission, unpaid volunteers are considered gratuitous employees and cannot collect workers’ compensation benefits for injuries incurred during the act of volunteering. However, organizations that use volunteers can obtain insurance or coverage for volunteers. As an example, a volunteer at a soup kitchen will not be eligible for workers’ compensation if they slip and fall while working the premises, but the actual soup kitchen can obtain insurance or coverage. Non-profit or charitable organizations that utilize volunteers should consult with a knowledgeable labor attorney to see if they should have insurance or coverage for volunteers.

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