This is the second of a series of blogs written to tell workers in South Carolina what they need to do if they suffer a work-related injury.  

2.    Tell the treating doctor that you got hurt at work!

In my previous blog, I stressed the importance of reporting your work injury immediately to your employer.  Today, I stress the importance of telling your doctor that you got hurt at work and how you got hurt at work.

In many denied workers’ compensation claims, there is, for lack of a better word, a swearing match going on between the injured worker and the employer.  The worker claims to have been injured on the job.  The employer denies that the worker got injured on the job or claims that the injured worker did not properly report his injury to the employer.  The workers’ compensation commissioner is charged with the responsibility of finding the truth and, therefore, must decide which one to believe.  

In my experience, the commissioner often relies on the medical records to break the tie.  He discounts the injured worker’s testimony as well as the employer’s denial because they are both taking self-serving positions.  Then, he especially looks at the initial medical record of treatment of the injured worker to find the truth because he assumes that the initial treating doctor does not “have a dog in the fight.”  If the initial medical record documents that the employee was being treated due to an injury that the employee contends occurred at work, and especially if the record describes how the injury occurred, the commissioner will view that record as giving credibility to the injured worker’s claim.  On the other hand, if the injured worker does not mention anything about the work injury to the initial treating doctor, the commissioner will likely view that record as giving credibility to the employer’s defense that the employee did not get hurt at work.

Therefore, if you were injured at work, it is imperative that you document that you are at the doctor’s office seeking treatment for an injury that occurred at work on all of the forms that the doctor’s staff may ask you to complete prior to your examination and then you must describe the injury to the doctor when he examines you so that he will include it in your medical record.  

As a general rule, the more details that you can give to the doctor, the more believable your claim will be to a commissioner.  For example:

  • know the exact date of your injury before you go into the doctor’s office.  Do not guess at your date of injury because it will come back to haunt you if your claim is contested and the date of injury that you give the doctor is wrong.  I have seen situations where the injured worker haphazardly reports to the doctor that he got hurt at work on Wednesday about two weeks ago and then prior to the workers’ compensation hearing we learn from  reviewing his time cards that the worker did not even work on that Wednesday.  At that point after closer examination, we realized that the injury actually occurred on Wednesday, but it was three weeks ago rather than two weeks ago as reported to the doctor.  That is an error that can be explained and corrected, but it could have been avoided all together if the worker had been prepared when he initially went to the doctor.
  • be specific in your description of the injury to the doctor.  Which is more believable?

    • “I hurt my back at work last Wednesday just doing my job;” or
    • “Last Wednesday afternoon at work, I injured my back lifting a 75 pound box  off of the floor.  I was going to put the box on my work table.  As I twisted while lifting up the box, I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and pain even went down my left leg.  I had to put the box back down on the floor and was never able to lift it up to the table.”

In conclusion, it is imperative that you give your doctor specific details about your work-related injury during your first medical appointment after the injury.  If you do so, the employer and insurance carrier will likely admit that you got hurt at work and will provide you with workers’ compensation coverage without unnecessary delay.

My next blog will be about the fact that you can suffer a work injury without being required to suffer trauma.


 

(Ernie Trammell is the author of this blog post and subsequent posts on Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina. Mr. Trammell has been a Workers’ Compensation attorney in South Carolina for 29 years, primarily in the Upstate encompassing the counties of AndersonAbbevilleGreenvilleGreenwoodLaurensOconeePickens, and Spartanburg.) 

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Photo of Trey Mills Trey Mills

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills,

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills, Jr. and Patricia Yarborough Mills, were originally from Newberry, South Carolina, and soon after the birth of Mr. Mills, his parents brought him back to be raised in the same county they grew up in.

Education

Mr. Mills attended Newberry Academy from grades K-3, Gallman Elementary 4th grade, Rikard Elementary 5-6th grade, Mid-Carolina Middle School 7-8th grades, Mid-Carolina High School from 9-12th grades, Clemson University, and Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

Health Crisis

While Mr. Mills was a junior in high school he was chosen by his school to be a representative to Boys State.  This was a great honor and would have been an even better experience except, while at Boys State, Mr. Mills became unusually ill with blackouts, night sweats, and back pain.  Fortunately for Mr. Mills, his mother was an ER nurse at Lexington Medical Center, but unfortunately, for Mr. Mills that did not change his diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Along with his diagnosis, Mr. Mills received a prognosis of two weeks.

Obviously, Mr. Mills has been blessed with his second chance at life and those who have been wronged by health care insurance companies and other types of insurance companies can feel confident in knowing that Mr. Mills can not only empathize with them but fight fervently for their side.  Mr. Mills’ cancer experience and his mother’s arduous yet unsuccessful battle against lung cancer were very trying times.  However, those real-world battles and experiences were nothing compared to the administrative and billing wars he had to encounter with Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance. It seems BCBS would deny any charge over $1,000 without rational reasoning therefore prompting Mr. Mills to go to law school and carry the torch for those that were too ill to fight for themselves while the school yard bully beat them down.

College

Mr. Mills went on to Clemson University where he was very active in student activities along with academic accomplishments.  Mr. Mills was invited to join Calhoun Honor’s College, Sigma Pi fraternity, Golden Key National Honor Society, Student Government, IPTAY Student Advisory Board, and Tiger Brotherhood. Mr. Mills also worked as a student employee with IPTAY Scholarship Fund under the direction of Bert Henderson, formerly the Associate Athletic Director of Planned Giving at Clemson University.

Early Life

Mr. Mills was unsure of where his hard work and life experiences would best provide an adequate return to the outpouring of kindness he received during his cancer experience. Having received many blessings from the American Red Cross, Mr. Mills went on to be an Apheresis Donor Recruiter under the supervision of Barry Pollard at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Services in Columbia, SC after graduating Clemson University.

Running from his true calling, Mr. Mills fled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  Having spent a semester of college in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Mills thought he should be assisting foreign countries. Mr. Mills was certified by the Vancouver Language Centre in Guadalajara for his TEFL training.  Mr. Mills was in Guadalajara only a few months when September 11, 2001 occurred and helped him focus on his life priorities.

Law School

Mr. Mills went on to law school at Mercer University and clerked each summer trying to determine how he could best serve those less fortunate.  The corporate law firms never truly provided him with that personal feeling of assisting the common person in need.  It wasn’t until Mr. Mills became the first law clerk of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association under the supervision of Linda Franklin and lobbyist Michael Gunn that he realized where his education, life experience, drive, and hard work could truly benefit those who have been personally and directly affected by the negligence of another.  Mr. Mills wanted to be a coveted and much needed plaintiff’s trial attorney.  More importantly Mr. Mills realized the power of the faceless insurance companies, misinformed legislative members, and the true power of money and lobbyist in dictating laws.

What’s the one service you pay for all your life but you are actually penalized if you ever have to use it? Insurance.

Trammell & Mills

Mr. Ernie Trammell gave Mr. Mills his big break at leveling the playing field against the faceless and heartless insurance companies.  Mr. Mills works tirelessly every day in an effort to bring justice to those who have been wronged.  Mr. Mills has worked on both sides of the law and has been through some harrowing life experiences.  Mr. Mills has been tested and tried by many of the more traumatic events that life has to offer and now provides his services to the public.

Who would you rather have on your side? Someone whose resolve has been tested and tried? Or someone who has intertwined their morality and greed in such a way that they can’t tell one from the other?

Why haven’t you hired Mr. Mills to be your attorney yet?

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why listen to insurance adjusters?