If you’re a convenience store clerk who’s been hurt on the job in South Carolina, there are specific steps you should take to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is no-fault insurance that most SC employers with four or more employees are required by law to carry. It covers employees’ work-related accidental injuries and occupational illnesses, paying all medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages, as well as disability benefits and vocational re-training in some cases. You don’t have to prove your employer was at fault to collect benefits, and you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Convenience Store Workers’ Duties and Potential Injuries
Convenience store workers engage in a variety of activities that can lead to musculoskeletal and other injuries on the job. Typical work-related incidents include:
Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall mishaps.
Recently mopped floors, spilled drinks from soda dispensing machines, dropped food, wrinkled floor mats, or snow and ice outside can cause an employee to slip or trip and fall on the job. Fractured bones, bruises, cuts, spinal damage, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result.
Exposure to toxic substances.
Because many convenience stores sell gasoline, clerks are exposed to fuel spills and fumes when they clean or service gas pumps. They’re also exposed to toxic cleaning fluids inside the store. Inhalation of such substances can cause respiratory and other problems.
Lifting and moving heavy boxes, stocking shelves, and organizing inventory can cause damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints in the shoulders, neck, and back.
Heavy products like glass bottles of soft drinks or alcohol might fall off a high shelf and hit an employee’s head or be dropped on a foot. When working outdoors in the parking lot, a convenience store employee is sometimes in danger of being struck by a moving car. Broken bones, cuts, brain injuries, or spinal damage can result.
Opening product packaging.
Cutting boxes open with box cutters or other sharp implements can lead to deep lacerations that might require stitches. In the most serious cases, a finger might even be lost.
Using dangerous equipment.
Meat slicers, hot liquid dispensers, cooking equipment, pizza ovens, and other potentially dangerous equipment are possible sources of serious cuts and burns.
Interaction with customers can mean exposure to bacteria, viruses, and air- and blood-borne pathogens that can make an employee sick.
Using a cash register for hours, daily cleaning tasks, shelf stocking, and similar duties can result in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), rotator cuff injury, tendonitis, “trigger finger,” and other repetitive motion injuries.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’re injured or become ill in one of the ways described above, you should take the following steps in order to seek fair workers’ comp benefits:
- Report your injury immediately to your supervisor, preferably in writing, with photographs to document what happened, where, and how. (If there is video footage of your accident from an in-store camera, your attorney will know how to obtain it.) You actually have 90 days to report, but you should do it right away.
- File a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) by submitting Form 50 from the SCWCC website. You have two years to file your claim, but you should do so as soon as possible. Any delay in reporting or filing could be used by your employer’s insurance company as a rationale to deny your claim.
- Visit a physician recommended by your employer’s insurer, not your own doctor, and follow that physician’s advice and treatment plan to the letter.
- Keep all medical appointments, retain receipts and documentation of all treatments, and keep a journal of your recovery.
- If your claim is denied, the insurer is slow to approve necessary treatments, or you’re expected to come back to work before you’re ready, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
Your attorney can help you appeal a denied claim by asking for an informal conference, requesting a hearing before the SCWCC, or requesting a commission review.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Florence?
If you've been hurt at your job in or around Florence, South Carolina, you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Florence personal injury office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.