Will Filing a South Carolina Workers’ Comp Claim Jeopardize My Job?
If you were injured at work, filing a workers’ compensation (commonly abbreviated to “workers’ comp”) claim may be a no brainer to protect your rights. But perhaps you have concerns about the impact filing such a claim may have on your future.
Common concerns include:
- A loss of privacy
- Employment retaliation
- Press Involvement
- The release of confidential medical records
- Damage to future employment prospects
In this blog post, we’ll address such concerns so that you’ll stand on solid footing as you consider filing a workers’ compensation claim in Columbia, South Carolina or anywhere in the surrounding region.
Workers’ Compensation Claim Protections: Workers’ Comp and Privacy Rights
Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) generally limit prospective employers from inquiring about past workers’ compensation claims. However, whether you file a claim or not, the underlying sickness or injury may persist, and employers will often be able to determine your health and medical history to the extent reasonably required for each job.
Under the ADA, appropriate accommodations may still be required for such medical issues. In other words, the extent of medical injury is often of more importance than whether a previous claim was filed.
Regardless, you may be concerned about how you are viewed within your current company. Although it would be illegal for an employer to retaliate against someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim, many employees worry about being stigmatized by their employer should they file. Always keep in mind, employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, and to pay out if you are injured on the job. Attempting to ignore an injury may not only impact your recovery and health, but may also lead to exacerbated or chronic health issues, which may later be more difficult to prove as workers’ comp claims.
Workers’ compensation claims are often resolved via a court proceeding, and therefore are generally not deemed sealed or confidential, though any medical records associated with such may be protected. It is understood that anyone can be injured at work, and companies are thus barred from retaliating against any employee for filing a good faith workers’ compensation claim.
Federal and state laws forbid retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim. That means that if you are injured on the job you will likely need an experienced attorney such as Masella Law Firm, PA., and if you are subsequently terminated or mistreated at work for filing, you may also require the assistance of an employment lawyer.
Sealing South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Records
Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), medical providers (such as hospitals or doctors) cannot release medical records unless ordered by a court or affirmatively released by a patient. However, in most workers’ compensation cases, medical records may be provided to the court system and to all involved parties as such disclosure will be necessary to prove a plaintiff/employee’s case.
South Carolina Code §42-15-95(a) (2013) states that: “Any employee who seeks treatment for any injury, disease, or condition for which compensation is sought…shall be considered to have given consent for the release of medical records relating to such examination.”
This law further provides that such records must be turned over to the employer, their insurance carrier(s), and the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission within fourteen days of a records request. The law also states that any treating physician/medical provider, for purposes of workers’ comp claims, must be willing to disclose their records and even to testify about the underlying nature of the injury or disease, and any treatments associated therewith.
And here lies a big issue, as many employees are not comfortable with the public having access to their medical information, and rightfully so. Accordingly, Massella Law Firm, P.A. will often seek a court order sealing any medical records associated with your claims. This will add an additional layer of protection to your records so that only the court orders or decisions relating to the award itself will be publicly searchable, which is similar to the degree of confidentiality medical records have under HIPAA.
Sealing court records will not only help protect you from improper investigations by future employers, but will also maintain your confidentiality from the press (should your case have public interest), from scammers or gadflies, and from the public at large. A fair and just workers’ compensation award is important, but experienced attorneys will also take the appropriate steps to protect your privacy interests. Our firm prides itself on not only obtaining large settlements or awards for our clients, but also on thinking beyond the numbers.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims and Future Employment
You are under no affirmative obligation to divulge workers’ compensation claims if not asked. Furthermore, prospective employers are often barred from requesting information about past workers’ compensation history. You may consider reviewing any medical release requests with a lawyer before accepting employment/continuing with the hiring process.
Masella Law Firm, P.A., Is Here to Protect Your Workers’ Compensation Rights, Present and Future
Hopefully this blog post has dispelled some of the primary concerns employees feel when filing a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina. If you have been injured at work, make sure your rights are protected by calling (803) 938-4952 today to schedule a consultation . We will help you better understand your rights, how to globally protect your interests, and the likely value of your claim. We can also be reached via our online form.
We look forward to speaking with you.