Yes, if you're a hospitality worker injured on the job in Horry County, you're generally eligible for workers' compensation benefits. According to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 50-75% of hotel employees experience painful health issues that result from carrying out their job duties. Moving heavy supply carts, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, emptying trash, preparing food, and other such duties can cause a variety of injuries that require medical care, medication, and time off work.
To receive workers' comp benefits for your work-related injuries, you must complete the claims process promptly and properly. If you don't, your employer's insurance company could use any mistakes you make or deadlines you miss to deny you fair benefits, especially if your claim is expensive or complex. The services of a workers' comp lawyer might be required to give you the best chance of a successful claim.
Common Injuries Among Hospitality Workers
Housekeepers, kitchen staff, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, and other hotel and motel employees are at risk for a variety of injuries on the job, including:
- Skin rashes, eye injuries, or respiratory problems can result from exposure to cleaning products containing toxic chemicals.
- Steam, hot liquids, grease, and overheated equipment in a hotel or motel kitchen or laundry room can lead to burns.
- Kitchen knives, meat slicers, power tools, and other devices with sharp edges regularly cause cuts and lacerations among hotel kitchen and maintenance workers.
- Housekeepers walking on freshly mopped floors and kitchen employees stepping on spilled food can suffer slip-and-fall accidents that result in broken bones, concussions, or spinal injuries.
- Hospitality maintenance personnel who climb ladders and work in awkward positions can develop muscle strains or joint sprains on the job.
- Twisting, lifting, reaching, pushing, and pulling can cause tendonitis, repetitive stress injuries, and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among hospitality workers.
- Dealing with guests who might be disgruntled, mentally ill, or under the influence of substances can put a hotel or motel worker at risk of physical assault or gun violence in today's society.
Any such injury should be compensable as long as you can prove it resulted from a work-related accident. If your employer or its insurer tries to delay, dispute, or deny your claim, a workers' comp lawyer can help you seek fair benefits.
Steps to Take If You're Hurt on the Job
If you sustain an injury in the course of performing your job duties in a Horry County hospitality setting, workers' comp should cover all your medical expenses and reimburse two-thirds of your lost wages. To claim your benefits, you should take the following steps in a timely manner.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
If your injury requires emergency treatment, visit the nearest medical facility for attention. Even if you don't feel you're seriously injured, you should see a physician after any workplace accident. In some cases, the adrenaline generated by the accident can mask the symptoms of a serious injury for days or even weeks.
A doctor's exam and diagnostic testing can reveal issues of which you might not be aware. Getting a prompt diagnosis and beginning treatment right away gets you on the road to a faster recovery and provides documentation of your work injury, which is crucial to your workers' comp claim.
Report Your Accidental Injury
Although you have 90 days to report your injury to your employer, you should do so as soon as possible. Report the incident in writing, providing the date, time, place, and details of your accident. Include the names of any witnesses.
File a Claim
Your employer should inform the insurance company of your accidental injury and file a claim for benefits on your behalf. If this doesn't happen within ten days, you may file your own claim by submitting Form 50 (for injury) or Form 52 (for the death of a loved one) from the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (SCWCC) website.
See an Approved Physician
For ongoing treatment, you must see a doctor approved by your employer's insurer. (You may not simply visit your own doctor.) Follow the approved doctor's treatment plan, take all medication as it's prescribed, and don't miss any appointments. Retain documentation and receipts for all your treatments.
Don't Put Anything Off
While you have 90 days to report your injury and two years to file your claim, you should do both as soon as possible. If you delay reporting or filing, the insurer can allege that you're not as badly hurt as you say you are or that your injury is not work-related.
Consult a Lawyer
An experienced workers' comp attorney can handle all communication with your employer's insurer, organize and present your medical evidence, ensure you're not penalized for filing, counter any delay tactics on the insurer's part, and negotiate a lump-sum settlement in some cases. If your claim is denied, your lawyer can represent you in a hearing before the SCWCC and file an appeal in civil court if necessary.