South Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Construction Workers
Understand your right to workers’ comp benefits after suffering a work-related injury, illness or disease in the construction industry
Construction work in South Carolina is demanding and comes with inherent risks. Unfortunately, when an injury occurs on the job site, understanding your rights and the steps to take to get workers’ compensation benefits can be daunting.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, our knowledgeable Columbia work injury attorneys are dedicated to assisting injured workers by guiding them through the claims process to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.
Don’t wait to get the answers and help you need after suffering a work-related injury or illness. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about your right to workers’ comp benefits in Columbia.
Just how dangerous is construction work in South Carolina?
Unfortunately, statistics show that construction is one of the most dangerous industries for South Carolina workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction workers suffered the second-highest number of fatal injuries in 2021 after transportation workers, with 21 deaths reported. This number is a slight decrease from the 23 construction-related fatalities reported in South Carolina the previous year.
What are the most common accidents and injuries for construction workers in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the most common injuries for construction workers often stem from the following types of incidents:
- Transportation accidents. Construction workers often transport materials using trucks and forklifts. Accidents with these vehicles can cause serious injuries, including whiplash, head injuries, spinal cord injuries and broken bones.
- Falls from heights. Accidents involving falls from elevated surfaces like roofs, ladders and scaffolding are prevalent among construction workers. These incidents often lead to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and even fatalities.
- Struck-by accidents. Construction sites involve various heavy equipment, machinery and tools. Workers may get struck by objects such as falling debris, equipment or moving vehicles, leading to injuries like fractures, concussions, and amputations.
- Overexertion and repetitive stress. The physically demanding nature of construction work can cause overexertion, leading to musculoskeletal injuries such as strains and sprains, as well as repetitive motion injuries, like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, due to lifting heavy objects, performing repetitive tasks and working in awkward positions for extended periods.
These injuries often require immediate medical attention and can result in temporary or permanent disabilities, impacting a worker’s ability to perform their job and affecting their quality of life. While employers are required to implement safety protocols and training to minimize these risks, preventable accidents and injuries continue to be a serious issue at construction sites.
Are injured construction workers entitled to workers’ comp in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, most employers, including those in the construction industry, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have 4 or more employees, ensuring that workers can receive certain benefits for job-related injuries, illnesses and diseases.
It’s important to note that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that an injured worker can receive these benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injury. However, in exchange for these benefits, employees typically cannot sue their employer.
To qualify for benefits, a worker must be classified as an employee, not an independent contractor, and they must be able to prove that their injury or occupational disease or illness was a direct result of their job duties or work environment.
Determining your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits is critical in securing financial support and medical care following a work-related injury or illness.
How much does workers’ comp pay in South Carolina?
The amount and types of workers’ compensation benefits a person can receive in South Carolina will vary based on several factors, including the nature and severity of the injury and the individual’s average weekly wage.
In most cases, these benefits can include the following:
- Medical benefits. Workers’ compensation covers necessary medical treatment related to the work injury. This includes doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and other medical expenses required to treat the injury or illness.
- Wage loss benefits. These benefits may be provided if the injury causes a temporary or permanent inability to work. The amount of wage loss benefits an injured worker can receive is usually two-thirds of their average weekly wage, subject to statutory maximums and minimums set by South Carolina law.
- Death benefits. These benefits provide financial support to cover burial expenses and lost income for dependents of workers who die due to job-related injuries or illnesses.
The specific compensation rates and durations for these benefits may change over time due to updates in state laws or regulations, so it’s advisable to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand the full extent of benefits to which you’re entitled.
Does workers’ comp pay for pain and suffering in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering; it only covers economic damages like lost wages and medical bills.
By not requiring an injured worker to prove anyone is at fault for their injury to receive compensation under workers’ comp, the system aims to streamline the process of getting financial and medical support without lengthy and costly litigation.
However, if a third party (someone other than your employer) is responsible for your injury, you may be able to recover additional compensation for pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. If you want to pursue this course of action, you should consider contacting a work injury attorney to help you understand your legal options and build a strong case.
How long can you stay on workers’ comp in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the duration for which an individual can receive workers’ compensation benefits is contingent on the nature and severity of the injury, with various types of benefits having distinct time limits:
- Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits and temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are available to injured workers who are temporarily unable to work. These benefits typically continue until the worker either returns to work or reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI), a state determined by a doctor when the injury will not further improve.
- For injuries resulting in permanent partial disability (PPD), the worker is entitled to benefits for a predetermined number of weeks, which varies based on the impaired body part, as specified by South Carolina law.
- In cases of permanent total disability (PTD), benefits can be provided for up to 500 weeks. However, in instances of catastrophic injuries, like severe brain or spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, these benefits may be extended for the injured worker’s lifetime.
Additionally, medical benefits for treatment related to the work injury can continue as long as the treatment is necessary, potentially covering the lifetime of the injured worker. In the unfortunate event of work-related fatalities, dependents are typically eligible for death benefits for up to 500 weeks.
What are the steps for filing a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina is a crucial process for anyone who has suffered a job-related injury. To ensure that you navigate this process effectively and receive the benefits you’re entitled to, follow these steps:
- Seek immediate medical attention. The first and most critical step after sustaining an injury at work is to seek medical care. This not only ensures your health and safety but also provides essential documentation of your injury.
The medical records generated will serve as evidence linking your injury directly to your workplace incident. Prompt medical attention reinforces the legitimacy of your claim and sets a clear timeline, which is vital for the claims process.
- Report the injury to your employer. As soon as you’re able, inform your employer about the accident and your injury. South Carolina law mandates that you report your injury within 90 days of the incident. It’s best to do this in writing, detailing the incident and the nature of your injuries.
Timely reporting is crucial; failing to notify your employer within this window can lead to your claim being denied. This report initiates the formal process and is a necessary step before any benefits can be considered.
- Ensure your employer files the claim. Once you’ve reported your injury, your employer has a legal obligation to file a claim on your behalf with their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. They must also inform the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission about your claim. It’s important to follow up with your employer to ensure that this has been done.
If your employer is reluctant or refuses to file the claim, you have the right to take action yourself. This involves submitting Form 50 directly to the Commission, which allows you to initiate the claim independently.
- Seek legal assistance. If your employer does not file your claim or if your claim is denied, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. They can offer invaluable guidance, help protect your rights, and ensure you receive the full benefits you’re entitled to. An attorney can assist with filing appeals, representing you in hearings, and negotiating with insurance companies, making the process less daunting.
Additionally, be sure to keep detailed records of all communications, medical treatments and expenses related to your injury. Being organized and proactive can significantly enhance the efficiency and success of your workers’ compensation claim.
Contact an experienced Columbia work injury attorney
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we firmly believe that a safe workplace is a fundamental right for every employee. Understandably, accidents can happen, but when they do, the stress of medical expenses and lost wages shouldn’t be your burden to bear alone.
This is where our dedicated Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys can step in to help.
Our firm is committed to providing you with the support and guidance you need during these challenging times, offering complimentary, no-obligation consultations to assist you in making informed decisions about your claim.