South Carolina Workers’ Comp Benefits: A Guide for Injured Carpenters
Learn if you qualify for workers’ compensation after an injury and how to file a claim for maximum benefits
If you’re a carpenter, you know that the physical demands and risks of the job are a daily reality. Working with sharp tools and heavy materials, often at heights, carpenters are exposed to a range of potential hazards.
When injuries occur, it’s not just the physical pain that affects you; the uncertainty and concern about your livelihood can be equally daunting. Navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation in such situations can be overwhelming, raising numerous questions about your rights, the process, and the support you can expect.
Whether you’re a carpenter dealing with a recent injury or just seeking to understand the ins and outs of workers’ compensation in your field, this resource is designed to provide you with valuable insights and answers to your most pressing questions.
If you still have questions after reading this article or would like help filing a workers’ compensation claim, schedule a free consultation with one of the knowledgeable Columbia work injury attorneys at Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega.
Did you know?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2020, there were almost 700,000 carpenters employed across the U.S. That same year, these workers suffered approximately 11,960 nonfatal injuries requiring time off of work, an incident rate of about 2 injuries for every 100 full-time workers.
What is the most common injury in carpentry?
While carpenters are at risk for a wide range of injuries, sprains, strains and tears topped the list in 2020 with 2,920 injuries. Other common injuries that year included fractures, pain and soreness, and cuts and lacerations, as seen in the graph below.
While less frequent, respiratory diseases and catastrophic injuries like amputations, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries also remain high concerns for those working in the carpentry industry.
So, what causes all these injuries?
Well, in 2020, the most common causes of nonfatal injuries included:
- Getting struck by or against an object or heavy equipment (3,980 injuries)
- Falls (3,480 injuries)
- Overexertion when lifting or lowering objects (990 injuries)
Additionally, the top causes of injuries that resulted in carpenter fatalities included:
- Falls (48 fatalities)
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments (12 fatalities)
- Vehicle accidents (11 fatalities)
With so many risks for those working in the field of carpentry, it’s crucial for workers to understand their options for financial recovery after a work-related injury or occupational illness, including workers’ compensation.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a legally mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries, illnesses or diseases. In South Carolina, most employers with 4 or more employees are required to carry this insurance.
Workers’ comp operates as a no-fault system, meaning employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injury as long as they’re able to prove it was directly caused by their job.
The system is designed to ensure that workers receive timely medical treatment and financial support while protecting employers from costly lawsuits.
Are South Carolina carpenters entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
In South Carolina, whether carpenters are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits depends largely on their employment status as either employees or independent contractors.
Carpenters who are classified as employees of a company with 4 or more workers would typically be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the event of a job-related injury or illness.
However, the situation is different for carpenters who work as independent contractors. Independent contractors are generally not covered under the workers’ compensation insurance of the businesses they work for.
This distinction is crucial because many carpenters operate as independent contractors or run their own small businesses. In these cases, they’re responsible for their own insurance coverage, and they would not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits through a client or employer.
Determining whether a carpenter is an employee or an independent contractor can sometimes be complex and depends on various factors, such as:
- The degree of control the employer has over the worker’s tasks
- The permanency of the relationship
- The nature of the work being integral to the business
If you were injured as a carpenter while working as an independent contractor, or if you believe you’ve been wrongly classified as an independent contractor by your employer, be sure to reach out to a work injury attorney. They can look at the specifics of your case, help determine your work status and explain your legal options for financial recovery.
Explore the key factors affecting eligibility, including employee status, the nature of the injury or illness, and reporting and filing deadlines.
What legal options does a carpenter have if they’re injured while working as an independent contractor?
If a carpenter is injured while working as an independent contractor, their legal options for compensation differ from those available to traditional employees under workers’ compensation.
One such option is filing a personal injury lawsuit if the injury was due to the negligence of a third party or a defective product.
For instance, if a carpenter is injured due to faulty equipment provided by a site contractor or if they’re harmed at a job site because of unsafe conditions that the property owner failed to rectify, they could pursue a claim against those parties. Similarly, if a defective power tool leads to an injury, the carpenter might have a claim against the manufacturer of the tool.
In these personal injury cases, it’s crucial to establish that another party—be it an individual, a company, or a product manufacturer—was at fault. This involves proving that the party had a duty of care, that there was a breach of this duty, and that this breach directly caused the injury.
Successful claims can result in compensation for medical expenses, lost income due to time off work, and potentially, damages for pain and suffering.
However, the burden of proof is on the injured carpenter, and these cases can often be complex and require detailed evidence and legal expertise. Therefore, it is advisable for injured independent contractors to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can assess the merits of the case and guide them through the legal process.
What types of compensation are injured carpenters entitled to under workers’ comp?
If you’re classified as an employee and get injured while working as a carpenter, you’re entitled to various types of compensation under workers’ compensation. These benefits are designed to support you during your recovery and return to work.
The main types of compensation include:
- Medical benefits. Workers’ compensation covers all necessary medical treatments related to the work injury. This includes doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, mileage reimbursement to and from appointments, and any necessary medical devices or rehabilitation services.
- Vocational rehabilitation. In cases where the injury prevents you from returning to your previous carpentry work, you might qualify for vocational rehabilitation services. These services assist in training for a new job or adapting to new work conditions.
- Wage replacement benefits. If your injury results in a temporary inability to work, you’re typically entitled to two-thirds of your lost wages, subject to state-specific maximum limits. These benefits continue until you are medically cleared to return to work or reach what’s called maximum medical improvement (MMI). If the injury leads to a permanent disability, whether total or partial, you may be eligible for additional compensation.
- Death benefits. In the tragic event of a fatality, your dependents may receive death benefits, which typically include a portion of your lost income and coverage for funeral expenses.
Especially in cases of severe injury or permanent disability, it’s highly recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced work injury attorney to help determine how much your claim should be worth before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company to ensure your best interests are protected.
What do I need to do to start a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
To initiate a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina, you need to follow a series of important steps. They include:
- Report the injury. First and foremost, report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. South Carolina law requires you to report a work-related injury within 90 days, but it’s advisable to do so immediately after the injury occurs or as soon as you realize it’s work-related.
- Seek medical treatment. Obtain medical attention for your injury. If it’s an emergency, seek immediate care. For non-emergency situations, ask your employer if they require you to see a specific health care provider or if you can choose your own.
- File a claim. Your employer should notify their workers’ compensation insurance carrier about your injury. However, if your employer does not report your injury, you can file a claim yourself. This is done by submitting Form 50 to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Filing instructions are available on the Commission’s website.
- Follow up. Stay in communication with your employer and their insurance carrier regarding the status of your claim. If there are delays or if your claim is denied, consult with an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation law to increase your chance of a successful claim.
Additionally, make sure you follow your doctor’s orders for treatment and work restrictions and report any extra income you earn while collecting workers’ comp to prevent your benefits from being terminated.
Get help with your South Carolina worker’s compensation claim from an experienced work injury attorney
Navigating the complexities of a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina can be challenging, especially in the aftermath of a work-related injury. This is where the expertise and guidance of Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega can be invaluable.
Our team of experienced Columbia work injury attorneys specializes in workers’ compensation law and is dedicated to assisting you every step of the way. From ensuring that your injury is reported correctly and in a timely manner to guiding you through the process of filing a claim and even representing you in disputes or appeals, we’re committed to advocating for your rights and interests.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a work-related injury can take. Our goal is to alleviate the burden of the legal process, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and let us support you in securing a favorable outcome for your workers’ compensation claim.
Carpenters, 2016-2020 : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). www.bls.gov. https://www.bls.gov/iif/snapshots/osn-carpenters-2016-20.htm