Construction Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

Accidents at Construction Sites

It’s good to see construction again. For too long, the economy dragged the building business down and kept workers from their jobs. No new houses or office buildings were being built. Even government spending was greatly decreased. Our country’s economy depends largely on good paying construction jobs. Now in Charlotte and throughout York County, we are seeing construction cranes and new housing developments. Here in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, there are numerous new housing subdivisions being developed. We will miss all the trees, but our area is growing again, and we will all benefit from the high paying construction jobs. However, with those jobs and wages comes the risk of serious injury while on the job and at work.

Workers compensation construction accidents are usually quite serious. People who work indoors or at offices can get hurt, but their injuries are typically minor and do not result in lost time. But folks who wear hardhats and build things can be seriously injured in an instant. Construction accidents can happen in an instant given all of the dangerous machinery and equipment being used. There is so much activity going on at the same time. Everyone has to watch out for each other. A moving crane or heavy loads being moved overhead can crush a worker or amputate a limb in a moment of distraction. Falls from at height can easily result in a serious back or head injury. And let’s not forget all of the saws and welding equipment that injure or even kill even the safest of construction workers. The point is we are all grateful for the new growth in building and everything that comes with new construction. But let’s be doubly careful while at work so that everyone gets back home safely to their families.

If you or someone you care about is injured in a construction accident, call us for answers and options. You can also download our free eBook South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law What To Do If Hurt At Work by going to our website www.rjrlaw.com. For a private, confidential review of your particular case, call Robert J. Reeves 803-554-4157 or email Robert@RJRlaw.com.

Be Safe. Get Home.

“Pain and Suffering” | SC Workers Compensation Attorney

SC Workers Compensation Law SC Workers Comp Attorney

In most personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” is the most valuable part of any recovery second only to medical treatment. Workers compensation cases, while personal injury, are different. The laws were set up to make certain injured workers are compensated, but fairly harsh restrictions are placed on what benefits are available? So how were workers compensation laws created?

Before workers compensation, employees hurt at work were left with the traditional personal injury negligence theories of liability. They had to prove that their employer was negligent and that they were injured as a result. In many cases, the employer did nothing wrong, and the accident and resulting injury was actually the fault of the injured worker. Consequently, there were many serious injury cases where no compensation would be available under the law. So the laws were changed by legislatures across the country to solve this problem. The system, while not perfect, was much better at protecting injured employees. The law, as developed, provides for certain elements of damages, including medical care (but the employer gets to choose where and which doctors), lost time benefits (paid at 2/3 a workers’ average weekly wage), and payment for any resulting permanent disability (based on a percentage of impairment to the specific body part affected). In truly serious cases, an injured worker can receive lifetime medical treatment and weekly benefits. The one item left out was “pain and suffering.” Why? Because this is the element that is purely subjective in nature and cannot be easily quantified, even by juries in regular civil cases. In serious accidents, “pain and suffering” is often described as excruciating and unbearable. How can you place a dollar value on such element. As a result, the legislatures took away fault from the employer and “pain and suffering” from the employee. As we said earlier, it is not a perfect system, but injured workers are assured that if hurt on the job, they will receive medical treatment and sufficient compensation to get them back on their feet and return to work.

SC workers compensation laws are complex and can be very confusing if your lawyer is new to this area of practice. Better make sure your lawyer is experienced in this complicated field and is willing to fight for you and your family. SC workers compensation attorney Robert J. Reeves has over 25 years of workers compensation experience. He is a former Registered Nurse (RN) and former workers compensation insurance defense lawyer. He would be honored to sit down with you and review your particular case. Each case is unique, and small facts can often make a big difference in outcome. Call today for a private, confidential consultation.

What is Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

According to S.C. SECTION 42‑5‑10, Workers’ Compensation states that it is up to the employer to secure payment of compensation to the extent of liability.reeves-sc-workers-comp-cover

Specifically, the statute states that “Every employer who accepts the compensation provisions of this Title shall secure the payment of compensation to his employees in the manner provided in this chapter.  While such security remains in force he or those conducting his business shall only be liable to any employee who elects to come under this Title for personal injury or death by accident to the extent and in the manner specified in this Title.” S.C.  SECTION 42‑5‑10

In other words, what Workers’ Compensation really is, is an insurance policy that your employer essentially takes out on you when they have a certain amount of employees in working for their company. The employers pay out to the Workers’ Compensation, in the event that a person is injured on the job.

Most states will assess the damages occurred to the employee who was injured while working within the scope of their employment. In the event that an employee is injured while working on the job, they will be entitled to recover for their personal injury, or the estate for a death of the employee, only to the extent of the injury.

This places no blame on the employer, and then business is only liable to the employee who utilizes the statutes for recovery.

If you have been injured while on the job, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for more information on compensation options.

Workers Compensation Case: Rodriguez v. Romero

The Plaintiff Rodriguez was employed to perform labor for Defendant Romero, who was a subcontractor.  During the installation of a new roof (June 27, 2000), Rodriguez fell through a skylight opening, suffering serious Personal Injury Attorneyinjuries.  What is undisputed is the fact that Mr. Rodriguez is entitled to workers compensation.

However, the question still exists as to what insurance carrier is responsible.  The subcontractor, in this case, had purchased insurance, but it was cancelled for non-payment.  Another policy, with INSCORP, was issued on June 22, 2000 with an effective date to May 19, 2000.  However, in the meantime, the company obtained an assigned risk insurer (ARI) policy under S.C. Code Ann. 38-73-540 from appellee, Capital City Ins Co., effective June 24, 2000.

Capital City was not apprised of the information that INSCORP had provided voluntary coverage, but nevertheless ruled that Capital City was responsible due to a most recent effective date of  June 24, 2000.  The circuit court reversed and found INSCORP was the responsible carrier.

On appeal, the court held that since Capital City’s policy was never effective, the dual coverage provisions of 25A S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 67-409 were not applicable.  That left INSCORP as the solely responsible carrier on the claim.

If you have been injured in a work accident, it is important to ensure who the carrier, who will pay your claim, who is responsible.  This is something that could potentially cause some dispute (in this case, the dispute), and can cost unnecessary money if not taken care of properly.  If you or a loved one has been involved in a workers compensation claim, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower at 803-548-4444, for a confidential consultation.

South Carolina Workers Compensation: Occupational Diseases

Chapter 11 of the Workers’ Compensation Act addresses the various occupational diseases.  An “occupational disease” is defined as the following:

“a disease arising out of and in the course of employment which is due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged.  A disease shall be deemed an occupational disease only if caused by a hazard recognized as peculiar to a particular trade, process, occupation or employment as a direct result of continuous exposure to the normal working conditions of that particular trade, process, occupation, or employment.”

Often, there is no single incident to attribute the injury to; consequently, the South Carolina Legislature distinguished occupational diseases from injuries by accident, and has dedicated a chapter in the code to such diseases.  In many respects, occupational diseases resemble injuries by accident.

The six elements of occupational disease claims are as follows:

  1. A disease;
  2. The disease must arise out of and in the course of the claimant’s employment;
  3. The disease must be due to hazards in excess of those hazards that are ordinarily incident to employment;
  4. The disease must be peculiar to the occupation in which the claimant was engaged;
  5. The hazard causing the disease must be one recognized as peculiar to a particular trade, process, occupation, or employment; and
  6. The disease must directly result from the claimant’s continuous exposure to the normal working conditions of the particular trade, process, occupation, or employment.

Next, there are certain impairments that are not categorized under occupational diseases. A disease will not be considered an occupational disease when:

  1. It does not result directly and naturally from exposure in this State to the hazards of peculiar to the particular employment;
  2. It results from exposure to outside climatic conditions;
  3. It is a contagious disease resulting from exposure to fellow employees or from a hazard to which the workman would have been equally exposed outside his employment;
  4. It is one of the ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed, unless such disease follows as a complication and natural incident of an occupational disease or unless there is a constant exposure peculiar to the occupation itself which makes such disease a hazard inherent in such occupation;
  5. It is any disease of the cardiac, pulmonary or circulatory system not resulting directly from abnormal external gaseous pressure exerted upon the body or the natural entrance into the body through skin or natural orifices thereof or foreign organic or inorganic matter under the circumstances peculiar to the employment and the processes utilized therein; or
  6. It is any chronic disease of the skeletal joints.

Because it is so easy to confuse what constitutes an occupational disease, it is important to retain competent representation to help define what your condition is under South Carolina law.  At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, we have handled many workers compensation cases, and we understand how these conditions are to be defined.  For a consultation, visit us at our Baxter Village office in Fort Mill, South Carolina at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.  We will be happy to assist you.

Paper Mill Accident Results in Death to One and Injury to One

One man has died, and two have been injured in a York County, South Carolina paper plant accident which occurred around 1:30 a.m. last Tuesday at the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba.  The men were doing maintenance on an old decommissioned tank outside of the main production area.

Investigators think that a chemical leaked into a tank that the men were working on.  Two of the men were barely able to escape, and the third man died in the tank.  One of the injured men were taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries.  A further investigation will take place with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and York County will assist with the investigation.

This is not the first time the paper mill has experienced an accident as a result of a chemical leak.  Last May, one man was seriously burned, and three others were injured in a chemical leak.  Resolute Forest Products employs about 700 people and makes commercial printing papers and market pulp.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident, make sure that your employer is compensating you sufficiently.  For a consultation, call the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP at 803-548-4444, or toll free at 877-374-5999.