South Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Eye Injuries
How to file a claim for maximum compensation after an eye injury at work
Eye injuries and vision loss can be serious risks for people who work in certain industries. These types of injuries often occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and they frequently have long-lasting effects on a person’s ability to work and live a normal life.
This article will discuss some common causes of on-the-job eye injuries, how to prevent them, and your rights if you suffer an eye injury at work.
Common causes of eye injuries in the workplace
Many scenarios can lead to a workplace eye injury:
- Flying objects, such as bits of metal or wood, can get into your eye and cause injury. These are common hazards in the construction, landscaping and manufacturing industries. Workers frequently use tools, machines and materials that produce debris. If a worker is using a drill and a piece of metal flies off, for example, the fragment could strike the worker in the eye and cause an injury.
- Impact or blunt force accidents that result from falls, vehicle collisions, or being struck by objects can cause eye injuries, including contusions and damage to the eye socket.
- Chemical splashes can burn your eyes and cause vision loss, too. This type of injury occurs in industries where workers are handling chemicals, such as cleaning and maintenance, laboratory and research work, manufacturing and agriculture. If a worker is mixing cleaning chemicals and some of the solution splashes into their eye, for example, it could cause serious damage.
- Radiation exposure from intense lights also can damage your eyes and lead to vision loss. Suppose an auto mechanic is welding a pipe and doesn’t have sufficient protective eyewear. The intense light radiation from the welding process could cause permanent damage to the worker’s eyes.
Other factors can also increase the risk of eye injuries. For example, if you work with hazardous materials in an environment with poor lighting, you may be more likely to have an eye injury.
Employers must assess the risks in the workplace and take steps to minimize them, such as providing proper protective equipment and training employees on safety procedures. If not, a worker may have grounds for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
Symptoms of eye injuries and vision loss
When someone has an eye injury, they may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
- Pain in or around the eye
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Tearing or watery eyes
- Abnormal or unequal pupil sizes
- Blood in the eyes
If you experience any of these symptoms, go to a doctor as soon as possible. Eye injuries can be serious, and you need medical treatment immediately to minimize the risk of long-term complications. Even a slight delay in getting medical care could increase the risk of long-term and permanent medical problems significantly.
South Carolina workers’ compensation eligibility
In South Carolina, most employers with 4 or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers don’t need to prove their employer was responsible for their injury or illness to get compensation. They only need to prove that their injury or illness happened in the course of their job while they were performing work-related duties.
Types of workers’ comp benefits
Workers’ comp pays for the following types of benefits after an occupational illness or injury:
- Medical treatments. This includes doctor appointments, surgeries, medical supplies, medications and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages. Workers are usually paid two-thirds of their average weekly wages while they recover from a work-related injury or illness. The time they can receive these benefits varies depending on their disability.
- Death benefits. These are provided to certain dependents if a worker dies of a work-related injury or illness. They include compensation for funeral expenses and lost income.
Steps required to file a South Carolina workers’ comp claim
In order to get workers’ comp, take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention. For a successful workers’ comp claim, you need to show that your injury is related to a work event. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible will provide this necessary documentation and prevent your injury from getting worse.
- Report your injury. You need to report your injury to your employer as soon as you’re aware of it and preferably in writing. Failure to report your injury within 90 days will likely prevent you from collecting any benefits. You will also likely need to provide documentation of your eye injury to the company’s workers’ compensation insurance policy provider. Common documentation includes medical bills and reports, safety logs and workplace injury reports.
- Your employer files a claim. After you report your injury, your employer is obligated to file a workers’ comp claim on your behalf. Be sure to verify that they’ve done so. If they refuse, you can file the claim yourself by submitting Form 50 to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer is dragging their feet about filing a claim or your claim is denied, be sure to contact a work injury attorney who can ensure your rights are protected.
Be sure to follow the rules for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim carefully. If you don’t, your employer may have grounds to dispute or deny the claim.
Preventing an eye injury at work
You can do several things to prevent eye injuries in the workplace.
- First, wear protective gear whenever you’re working with hazardous materials or in a debris-filled environment. Safety glasses, goggles and face shields are all invaluable.
- Second, keep your workspace clean and organized. Clutter and debris will increase the risk of eye injuries. Make sure you clean any spills or messes immediately, especially if they involve hazardous chemicals or fine materials.
- Finally, follow all safety protocols and procedures. Your employer should post guidelines to prevent eye injuries. Make sure you understand and follow the procedures whenever you perform potentially dangerous tasks.
The role of employers in preventing eye injuries is also important. Employers should assess the risks in the workplace and implement mitigation measures. These should include providing safety equipment and training employees about safety procedures. Employers should also make sure the work environment is well-lit and free of unnecessary hazards.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney
The workers’ comp claims process can be complex, and it’s important to understand your rights and the steps you need to take to get the benefits you’re entitled to. If you have any questions about the process or need help navigating it, you should consider contacting a lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation claims.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we believe that every employee is entitled to a safe work environment. When accidents do occur, you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to afford your medical care or pay your bills. That’s why our Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations to give you the help and information you need to get back on the road to recovery.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get maximum compensation for your claim.