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.
How a workplace injury attorney can help
A skilled workplace injury attorney knows how to maximize the payment their client will receive. They not only handle the basic aspects of filing a claim, such as preparing all needed documents and corresponding with insurance companies, they also help you better understand your available options.
An injured worker often has many options after an on-the-job injury. The worker might consider a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party liability claim or a personal injury claim, depending on their circumstances. Choosing the right path requires considering many different factors and predicting the many potential outcomes. An attorney can make sure your decision is as informed as possible.
Why handling your own claim presents challenges
After suffering a serious injury, life often becomes complicated. If you decide to take legal action to get compensation for your injuries, you’ll be forced to learn a significant amount of information while negotiating with attorneys and insurance companies who argue against these types of claims on a regular basis.
If you choose to handle your own claim, you could be ensuring that your claim never gets the representation it deserves. You might settle for significantly less than you are owed or, even worse, be denied compensation entirely.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we know how to get results for our clients. We handle the hard work, so our clients can focus on their loved ones, themselves and their recovery. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious workplace injury in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment with our legal team.
A workplace injury can happen to any of us, regardless of our job title or the industry we work in. However, some jobs are more dangerous than others. Here are a few occupations that result in serious injuries…
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Truck drivers and transportation workers
- Oil and gas workers
- Iron and steel workers.
What Types of Injuries Occur on the Job?
Any type of injury can occur in the wake of a workplace accident. In many cases, one incident causes several injuries. Here are a few of the most serious workplace injuries…
- Brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Amputations or loss of limbs
- Hearing loss.
Exposure to Dangerous Substances
Workers are often exposed to dangerous toxins that can have long-term health consequences. In many cases, the effects of exposure take months or years to manifest themselves. Dangerous chemicals can enter the body through exposure to the skin, inhalation or through cuts sustained while working.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 13 million U.S. workers are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Many of these chemicals can cause infections, irritation, allergic reactions and cancer.
Inhalation of asbestos has long been a concern for workers in construction and other industries where workers are exposed to materials in older buildings. While asbestos is no longer used in new structures, it was widely used for many decades in the U.S., and it is not uncommon for workers to come into contact with asbestos, a substance which has been closely linked to mesothelioma.
How long do you have to file a claim?
The length of time you have to file a claim depends on which course of action you choose. For workers’ compensation claims, an employee should notify their employer within 90 days of the injury, though a worker has up to two years to file the actual claim. However, it is important that an injured worker act as quickly as possible to report their injury to their supervisor. If possible, it is best to do this in writing.
If you choose to file a personal injury claim, you have three years from the time of your injury to file a claim. Again, it is best to act quickly to maximize your chances of a successful claim.
What types of compensation can you seek for workplace injuries?
A serious injury is painful, costly and restricting. You’ve likely suffered a great deal of physical and emotional pain. You’ve probably encountered many medical expenses. Your work capacity has also likely been impacted by the injuries you’ve suffered. By taking legal action, you can seek payment for all of these expenses.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we have helped clients seek payment for many different types of damages, including…
- Medical bills due to hospitalization, ambulatory care, medications, rehabilitation and ongoing tests and treatment
- Loss of past and future income due to time missed at work and diminished work capacity
- Pain and suffering stemming from the injury.
While workers’ compensation benefits provide payment for only some of these expenses, other types of claims, such as personal injury or third-party liability claims, can enable an injured worker to seek damages that go well beyond medical bills and lost income due to time missed at work.
Steps to take after a workplace injury
The two most important steps to take immediately after suffering an injury are seeking medical attention and notifying your employer of the incident. In the days, weeks and months that follow, keep copies of all bills related to your injury. Follow your doctor’s advice and don’t go back to work if you aren’t capable of performing your job responsibilities.
If you encounter any problems or are considering taking legal action, contact an attorney to explore your options. An attorney will help you decide which path is in your best interests.
Don’t let guilt stop you from taking a stand
Many workers have a strong sense of loyalty to their employer. While this is an admirable quality to have, it can work against if you are taken advantage of by your employer or offered less than you deserve from their insurance company. It’s important to take an honest look at your injury and the extent to which it has impacted your life.
If you feel like you are not being given the respect or payment that you deserve, you have a legal right to act. Some employers might go so far as to play on the sympathy of an injured worker to avoid paying that worker money that they are owed. Don’t be afraid to explore your legal options.
Can you file a personal injury claim against your employer?
If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, then it is difficult to file a lawsuit against them. However, if your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance or if you are a contractor and not an employee, then you can hold them accountable for the costs of your injuries through a personal injury claim.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we will review your case to determine your status and your legal options. Contact us today to get started.
When workers get a raw deal
There are many ways in which workers are denied the payment they deserve after a workplace injury. This can stem from…
- Misclassification as a contractor. Businesses sometimes hire workers on a contract basis, even though the worker would be more accurately described as an employee. Businesses might hire someone on “contract” to save costs and offer fewer benefits than they offer employees. If a contractor is injured on a job, they aren’t automatically qualified for workers’ compensation benefits. However, a contractor can either try to prove that they are misclassified or file a personal injury claim against the employer.
- Denial of workers’ compensation benefits. In some case, an employee is denied benefits from their employer or their employer’s insurance company. In these situations, you should contact an attorney to assist you with the appeal process.
- Negligence of a third party. If a workplace injury isn’t caused by the negligence of an employer, a worker might find that they aren’t able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. However, if another party was at fault for your injuries, you might still be able to seek compensation through a third-party liability claim. Third-party liability claims can be filed against a manufacturer of defective equipment, a negligent driver, a property owner who failed to keep their premises safe or any other party that contributed to the injury.
In each of these scenarios, there are typically legal options available to injured workers. If you have suffered a workplace injury and want to consider what you might do next, don’t be afraid to consult an attorney to learn more.
The South Carolina workplace injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm have years of experience helping injured workers get the payment they deserve. We want to put our experience to work for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our legal team.
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 work 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.