How to get maximum workers’ compensation benefits if you get injured at work
In June 1992, German automotive manufacturer BMW group announced its plans to build a full-fledged manufacturing plant in the United States and locate it in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This venture was the company’s first plant built outside of Germany, and BMW currently has 30 production plants located all over the globe.
Two decades after its opening, BMW’s sprawling South Carolina plant has undergone 6 expansions and employs over 11,000 workers on location. In the 20 years since opening, the South Carolina plant has produced over 5 million cars, many of which have been exported to 120 different countries.
The plant includes 2 body shops, paint shops, 2 halls for assembly and a complex operation to handle logistics.
The dangers of working in automotive manufacturing
BMW uses both employees and contract workers in its manufacturing plant operations. In 2020, BMW reported an accident frequency rate (AFR) for employees of 3.2. This metric shows the number of accidents involving at least 1 employee absence day, compared to 1 million work hours. This rate has improved slightly from 3.6 in 2017.
BMW’s accident rate for contractors is twice as high, with the company showing an AFR of 7.9 in 2020. This number has improved from the 2017 metric of 17.0.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the motor vehicle manufacturing industry has experienced illness and injury rates more than double that of private manufacturing industries from 2009 to 2018.
In overall private manufacturing, illness represented 5 percent of all illnesses/injuries that did not involve a fatality. As a comparison, automotive manufacturing workers experienced an illness rate of over 22 percent per year.
Over 50 percent of reported injuries and illnesses for motor vehicle workers resulted from musculoskeletal issues due to bodily motions and overexertion. According to the U.S. BLS, this rate is more than 3 times higher than the private manufacturing industry overall.
Did you know?
If you are an injured employee from a manufacturing plant like BMW, the information on this page about compensation for workers injured at Volvo may also apply to you. Be sure to visit the linked page for more information specific to your case.
Common BMW workplace injuries and occupational illnesses
The Spartanburg, South Carolina, BMW plant is the world’s largest BMW manufacturing facility. Although BMW has policies in place to maintain a high level of occupational safety, it’s not always possible to anticipate and prevent every accident.
The BLS states that the most common accidents are caused by physically demanding tasks, assembly-line work and dangerous machinery.
Common injuries include:
What workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to after an injury at BMW?
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, which means you do not need to sue your employer or get them to admit guilt. In most cases, you will get benefits to cover your accident regardless of who was at fault.
Workers’ comp benefits cover the following:
- Medical costs. Injured workers are eligible for coverage of reasonable and necessary medical expenses. That includes doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and physical or occupational therapy. It also covers any medical devices or adaptive equipment you might need on a temporary or permanent basis.
- Lost wages. The loss of wages or income replacement benefit covers workers for different periods of time depending on the injury type and the amount of time they’re unable to work.
Generally speaking, workers can receive two-thirds of their pre-accident average weekly wages for up to 500 weeks for permanent and total disability.
For any injury that is a partial disability, employees generally receive two-thirds of the difference between their previous wage and the wages they receive when they come back to work.
- Death benefits. The death benefit covers a worker who dies within 6 years of a work accident and pays for funeral costs and two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage for 500 weeks. The monetary benefits will be paid to the worker’s dependents, parents if no dependents, or the person’s estate if parents are deceased.
Understand the concept of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) in workers’ compensation, its significance for injured employees, and how it affects the benefits and compensation they receive.
Steps to take to ensure you receive your workers’ compensation benefits
If you get hurt on the job at BMW, you need to take the following steps to ensure your chances of receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
1. Seek medical attention
You need a doctor to diagnose your injury to submit to your employer as proof along with your workers’ comp claim. You may need to use your company’s medical provider. Follow any specific rules so that you don’t invalidate your claim.
2. Report injuries to your employer
You must notify your employer of any injury or illness within 90 days. Follow your employer’s rules for notification and keep documentation to prove that you submitted the notice. Put your notice in writing and keep a copy for your records.
3. Get witness statements if possible
When filing a BMW workers’ compensation claim, your goal is to avoid disputing facts with your employer. They don’t want their insurance rates to go up, so they are motivated to look for holes in your story.
If you have witnesses at work who will testify regarding your incident, this helps your claim significantly. Even if no one witnessed the accident, speak to your coworkers as soon as possible and inform them of your accident. Telling them immediately afterward can also help your claim.
4. File a workers’ comp claim
In South Carolina, you must file a claim for your accident within 2 years from when your injury occurred. In most cases, if you fail to file a claim within this timeframe, you won’t be eligible for any benefits.
A statute of limitation restricts the time a person can take legal action against another party after an accident or injury. Know your rights and don’t miss your chance to be compensated after a work injury.
5. Hire an attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation
Workers’ comp attorneys deal with insurance carriers daily and understand how they attempt to invalidate claims by disputing injury dates, questioning documentation, and finding other holes in your story.
Even if your claim seems straightforward, you could risk not getting the benefits you deserve because of a minor, overlooked detail. Your employer also may not disclose everything you are legally owed on your claim. An attorney works as your advocate, lets you know the full extent of benefits owed to you, and helps avoid errors that could reduce or invalidate your claim.
It’s critical to choose the best work injury attorney. Consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney, especially if your claim is denied. With legal help, you can appeal a denied claim, and your attorney will protect your rights while ensuring you get the compensation to which you’re entitled.
Contact the experienced South Carolina workers’ comp attorneys at Chappell, Chappell and Newman
If you’re injured on the job while working at BMW, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Chappell and Newman. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too. We can negotiate with BMW on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for your free consultation.