Being injured on the job is an all-too-familiar experience for many of South Carolina’s workers. To be sure, in a single year, there were more than 35,000 non-fatal workplace injuries reported in the state, with an incidence rate of 2.9 per 100 full time workers. These numbers do not include the number of fatal workplace incidents. Being injured on the job is not only scary and shocking, leaving a worker with pain and potential disability, but it can also open the door to a number of questions, too. A hurt work may wonder who is responsible for their workplace injury, how they will pay for damages, and whether or not they have a cause of action for damages against their employer.
At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our workers’ compensation attorneys can provide you with answers to these questions, and any others that surface during the recovery process.
Workers’ Compensation: A No-Fault System
The majority of workers who are injured on the job in South Carolina will benefit from workers’ compensation insurance. Rather than a traditional tort liability system–where an injured person recovers damages by virtue of proving fault and holding the at-fault party liable for harm–workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that workers neither have to prove fault in order to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability, nor prove that their own actions were not the cause of the injury. In exchange for no-fault benefits, workers are barred from filing personal injury lawsuits in civil court against their employers; employers are protected from liability.
Who Gets Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to the majority of workers’ in South Carolina, with exceptions for few industries (agriculture, railroad, etc.) and very small businesses. Otherwise, in order to recover workers’ compensation benefits, a worker need only prove that their injury occurred while on the job or while performing a work-related task. Then, they are able to recover compensation for lost wages at a rate of 66 ⅔ percent their average weekly wage, all necessary and reasonable medical expenses, and disability benefits.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
As stated above, workers’ compensation in South Carolina is a no-fault insurance program under which employers are immune from liability, which means that injured employees cannot file a lawsuit directly against their employers. However, in some cases, the right to file suit may be preserved if the employee’s injury was the direct result of an employer’s intentional conduct. For example, an employee may be able to bring forth a suit against an employer if the injuries were caused by an act of employer assault and battery.
Filing a Third Party Liability Suit for Damages
In some cases, a third party other than your employer may be to blame for a workplace accident. For example, consider the following situations, where a third party is clearly at least partially at fault:
- An injured worker is caught in-between a piece of machinery. Later, it is discovered that the accident occurred because an emergency shut-off function of the machine was defective as a result of manufacturer error.
- A delivery driver is involved in a car accident. Rather than filing a claim for workers’ compensation despite the fact that the accident occurred while the worker was on the job, the employee files a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver involved in the crash, who was drunk at the time of collision.
- A worker who is tasked with moving hazardous materials on a daily basis is involved in an explosion. An investigation reveals that the explosion occurred because the hazardous materials were improperly packaged and labeled, and did not contain a warning label explaining the danger of particular storage scenarios, contributing to the explosion.
In a third party liability claim, the injured worker is tasked with proving that their accident and injuries would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of the defendant. In some cases, it is possible to pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party liability claim.
Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in South Carolina Today
If you are involved in a workplace accident, getting the compensation that you deserve is incredibly important. At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our South Carolina attorneys have years’ worth of experience handling both workers’ compensation and third party liability claims. We will review your case for free, and provide you with the information and advice you’re looking for. When you hire our law firm, we offer aggressive representation that seeks to get you your full recovery amount. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation please contact us online or by phone today.