South Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Landscapers
Learn how to file a claim if you were injured while doing landscape work
Statistically speaking, landscaping is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. While the national rate of worker fatalities is 3.5 per 100,000 employees, the rate for landscaper fatalities is 16.9 per 100,000 employees.
There’s also evidence to suggest that young workers are more prone to fatalities than older ones: Despite the fact that the median age of landscapers is 38, half of all landscaping deaths happen to those younger than 34.
What makes landscaping so dangerous? What kinds of occupational injuries are the most common, and what workers’ compensation is available to those who are injured on the job as landscapers?
Let’s take a dive into this industry, its dangers and what you can do if you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina.
Landscaping industry statistics
According to recent data, the landscaping business is worth more than $171 billion in the U.S. alone. It employs more than 1.2 million workers across all demographics, and this number is on the rise. Compared to some industries that have been declining over time, landscaping increased by 12.7% in 2022.
South Carolina has an especially thriving market for landscaping. “Agribusiness” has a stronghold in the state, and industries like turfgrass represent the fastest-growing market sectors. They’re considered profitable industries with low barriers to entry, so they offer attractive job prospects for newcomers.
What are common jobs performed by landscapers?
What do landscapers do? The answer depends on their specialties, which can include lawn care, tree/arbor work, concrete paving, soil management, and the installation and maintenance of irrigation systems.
Here are just a few common skills among landscapers:
- Planting trees, flowers, bushes and hedges
- Mowing and fertilizing lawns
- Maintaining gardens
- Raking leaves and shoveling snow
- Building decks, patios and gazebos
- Laying driveways and pathways
- Installing outdoor lights
- Installing sprinklers
What are common hazards for landscapers?
For landscapers, workplace accidents can happen at both residential and commercial job sites. Here are a few of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities.
- Transportation accidents. One of the biggest hazards of landscaping is accidents while traveling to and from job sites with trucks, trailers and tractors. Workers can also sustain injuries while operating industrial mowers and other heavy equipment.
- Falling from heights and falling objects. Gravity is another significant cause of landscaping injuries. Workers can fall from ladders, slip and fall on slick surfaces, get struck by tumbling branches or logs, or drop heavy equipment on themselves or others.
- Exposure. Landscapers are exposed to a variety of dangers. These include but aren’t limited to bad weather, poisonous chemicals and electrical currents from hidden ground wires.
What are the most common landscaper injuries?
Landscapers can get hurt at work in numerous ways, including:
- Overexertion and dehydration from long hours outdoors
- Repetitive stress injuries from hours of bending, lifting, digging and carrying
- Broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries from transportation accidents, slip, trip and fall accidents or being struck by falling objects
- Hearing loss from loud equipment
- Amputations and lacerations from saws and other sharp equipment
- Skin cancer from sun exposure
- Eye injuries from flying debris
Understanding workers’ compensation in South Carolina
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance carried by employers. If you’ve been injured on the job as a landscaper, you might be eligible for benefits ranging from lost wages to the coverage of your medical bills.
Injuries generally fall into 2 categories:
- Traumatic or one-time injuries, often the result of accidents
- Occupational injuries or illnesses that occur or develop over time
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation operates under a no-fault system, meaning that you don’t have to prove negligence by your employer to receive benefits. No one has to be held legally liable for your accident. You only need to be able to prove that your injuries occurred at work or while you were performing assigned work duties.
Exceptions to South Carolina workers’ comp
While most employers with 4 or more employees are legally required to carry workers’ comp insurance, there are some exceptions. Notably, agricultural employees and casual employees who don’t work regular hours aren’t covered by workers’ comp.
If you work for a landscaping company that falls under this umbrella, you should talk to an attorney to see if you qualify for benefits.
Types of workers’ compensation benefits
If you do qualify for workers’ compensation in South Carolina, you might find yourself eligible for multiple types of benefits, including coverage for:
- All necessary medical expenses, including doctors appointments, medication, rehabilitation, surgery, hospital stays and equipment
- Two-thirds of your average weekly lost wages while you recover from your injury
- Death benefits for certain dependents, including funeral expenses and lost income
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina
To get workers’ comp in South Carolina, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention for your injury. This will prevent your injury from getting worse and provide documentation that links it to a work accident.
- Notify your employer that you’ve been injured. In South Carolina, this must be done within 90 days, but you should do so as soon as possible and preferably in writing.
- Your employer will file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. If your employer doesn’t file your claim in a timely manner, you can do it yourself by submitting Form 50, but it’s generally considered your employer’s responsibility.
- Wait to hear if your claim is approved. Once the appropriate documents have been mailed, it’s just a matter of waiting to hear if your claim has been approved or denied.
- Contact an attorney. If you want help with your claim or your claim is denied, reach out to an attorney to discuss your options.
Benefits of hiring a workers’ compensation attorney
It’s always a good idea to have legal representation when dealing with the matter of workers’ comp. Insurance companies use a lot of tricks to get out of paying, but a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can counter them.
For example, if the insurance company tries to claim that you didn’t notify your employer of your injury within the 90-day deadline, your attorney may be able to argue that you weren’t physically capable of reporting your injury during that time or that your employer was already aware of your injury.
This kind of legal maneuvering can mean the difference between an approval and a denial of your claim, so if you’ve been injured on the job while landscaping, consider hiring a workers’ comp lawyer to get the benefits that you deserve.
Contact a Columbia work injury attorney
You shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to afford your medical care or pay your bills after an accident at work. If you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina, let the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega help you with your claim. We can help you file the necessary paperwork and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
Our Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations to give you the help and information you need, so contact our office today to get back on the road to recovery.