South Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers: Fighting For You
During calendar year (CY) 2016, nearly 100 workers died every week simply because they were doing their jobs. . Across all industries in the U.S., 5,190 workers died while on the job in 2016, representing a 7 percent increase over CY2015. It was the third consecutive annual increase in fatalities.
Construction is one of the deadliest civilian jobs you can hold in the United States, with 991 fatalities in CY2016, the highest number of any industry according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure represents 21.1 percent of all private industry worker fatalities for the year; the total was 4,693. Almost two-thirds of construction deaths on the job during 2016 arose from what’s known as the “fatal four” of construction.
Nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the U.S. workplace totaled roughly 2.9 million during CY2016. Per every 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers, there were 2.9 cases of injury or illness. In the construction industry, the rate of illness or injury per every 100 FTE workers was slightly higher, at 3.2 nationally. In SC, the construction injury or illness rate was 2.4.
South Carolina laws require that employers maintain a safe work environment and follow all of the applicable workplace safety rules, including all federal laws and regulations. If you or someone you care about suffered a construction injury or death at a construction site due to someone else’s carelessness, you have the right to hold them legally liable for your injuries. The skilled and compassionate workers compensation attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can help you do so.
The Fatal Four of Construction
If the “fatal four” were eradicated, approximately 631 lives would be saved each year. The following four workplace accidents and situations were responsible for causing 63.7 percent of construction industry deaths in CY2016:
- Falls: 384 deaths, or 38.7 percent of the total
- Struck by an object: 93 deaths, or 9.4 percent of the total
- Electrocutions: 82 deaths, or 8.3 percent of the total
- Caught in-between: 72 deaths, or 7.3 percent of the total. (“Caught in-between” construction deaths occur when workers are compressed or caught inside equipment or objects, or are struck, caught, or crushed by equipment, material, or structures that are collapsing.)
While construction work can be dangerous by its nature — workers must do their jobs around heavy equipment, extreme temperatures, dangerous chemicals and dizzying heights—it is no excuse for employers to flaunt state and federal laws and regulations meant to keep workers safe. The dangers inherent in construction are complicated at some South Carolina job sites by employers, subcontractors, developers, property owners, or co-workers who don’t follow safety rules or who fail to warn workers about unsafe conditions.
Types of Construction Accidents
In our state, the most common varieties of construction accidents that result in injury, illness, or death include:
- Falls from ladders or scaffolds
- Falls from a roof
- Burns from fires, explosions, electrical accidents, and welding accidents
- Excavations and trenching calamities, which can cause collapsing structures and deadly cave-ins
- Machinery accidents of all types. Such accidents are not limited to heavy construction equipment such as cranes and bulldozers, but also include forklifts, tools such as drill presses, as well as boilers and compression equipment.
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals such as benzene and asbestos (Although the use of asbestos was stopped in the 1970s, significant danger still exists for workers when older buildings are renovated or torn down. South Carolina has a number of locations that may put you at risk of developing the cancer mesothelioma, which often takes decades to develop.)
- Inadequate warnings of dangerous conditions and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations.
Examples of Real-Life Construction Fatalities
In South Carolina, the OSHA list of worker fatalities for CY2017 totaled 17; 14 of the deaths were cited by OSHA. The numbers are far from complete, and will likely rise, because the latest reported incident as of May 1, 2018, actually occurred in August, 2017. Examples of worker deaths taken from OSHA reports include such incidents as:
- Dying after falling from a roof
- Dying after falling through a roof
- Dying after being crushed between a steel beam and an aerial lift basket
- Dying after being struck by a falling pulley
- Dying after being struck by a falling tree limb
- Dying after being engulfed in an ash hopper
- Dying after being engulfed in hot oil
Common Injuries from Construction Accidents
Those hurt in South Carolina construction accidents can suffer from the following injuries and require extensive medical care and rehabilitation to get their lives back:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a fall or blow to the head
- Back and spinal cord injury from a fall or being struck
- Amputation and limb loss from caught in-between accidents
- Eye injuries and vision loss from caustic materials and being struck
- Crush injuries and serious fractures from a fall, being struck, or being caught in-between
- Burn injuries from electricity and other sources
- Cancers such as leukemia and mesothelioma from working around benzene and asbestos
Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Suits
If you’ve been injured on the job, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation. Although accepting workers’ compensation payments generally means giving up your right to sue your employer, it may not always be the case. If a third party — another company or person who is not your employer — caused your injuries, you may sue that party while you collect workers’ compensation. You may also sue your employer for illegal behavior such as denying a valid workers’ compensation claim or retaliating against you for filing such a claim. And clearly, those whose employers never bought workers’ compensation insurance, denying them a chance to collect payments, may also sue.
Construction accidents in particular often involve more than one company — subcontractors, manufacturers of heavy equipment, property owners, architects, and others may also be liable if they had a hand in causing your injury. If that’s the case, you may be able to collect workers’ compensation payments and still pursue a construction accident lawsuit.
A third-party work injury lawsuit could allow you to recover for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, future earnings, disfigurement, your spouse’s loss of care and comfort, and punitive damages. Awards are typically in addition to what a worker receives from workers’ compensation alone. It is important to seek out legal help to make sure you are able to pursue all avenues of recovery for your construction site injuries.
Get Help from Our Workplace Injury Lawyers
Since 1959, the Louthian Law Firm has helped South Carolinians win compensation for their workplace related injuries and fatalities. We know our clients often come to us during a stressful time in their lives. That’s why we promise our clients personalized service outside of court and knowledgeable, aggressive representation at the negotiation table and at trial.
With a workplace injury lawsuit, you may be able to collect financial compensation for your medical bills, missed work, injuries, disability and other serious, long-term effects of the accident.
There is no substitute for proper legal help when making a workers compensation claim. The workers compensation lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm are here to help you recover compensation from a workplace accident due to others’ negligence. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation or use our online contact form.