You don't have to prove that your employer negligently caused your injury, and your boss can't fire you or retaliate against you in any way for filing a claim. If your natural disaster injury claim is a complicated or expensive one, though, your employer's insurance company might try to dispute it by alleging that your accident was not work-related. In such a case, you may require the services of a workers' comp attorney to help you prove that the natural disaster injured you while you were in the act of working.
Natural Disasters in South Carolina
Natural disasters that might injure you while you're at work in South Carolina include:
- Extreme heat in the summer
- Extreme cold, snow, and ice in the winter
- Broken dams
- Spills of hazardous materials
- Nuclear disaster
If you're onsite at your workplace when a hurricane hits, and storm debris or a heavy object falls and strikes you, your injury should be covered by workers' comp. If you're a construction worker who's struck by lightning during a sudden storm at a work site, you should be covered. If you're a salesperson who drives a company vehicle to different locations on behalf of your employer, an injury you suffer in a car accident while you're on the job should be compensable. In any of these scenarios, though, you'll have to present solid evidence that you were injured in the course of carrying out your work duties.
Your injuries are generally not covered by workers' comp if:
- You're injured while commuting to or from work in your own car.
- You're hurt while eating lunch offsite for non-business purposes.
- You're under the influence of drugs or alcohol when injured.
- You're in the process of committing a crime when you're hurt.
- You intentionally injure yourself.
It's important to remember that the insurance company will look for any way possible to dispute your claim, especially if your injuries are serious and you're facing significant time off work. A workers' comp lawyer can help you gather and organize evidence to strengthen your claim for fair benefits.
Workers' Comp Exceptions and Exemptions
While most South Carolina companies and businesses must carry workers' comp and most employees are eligible, there are exceptions and exemptions.
South Carolina employers not required to carry workers' comp insurance include:
- Businesses with fewer than four employees
- Businesses with annual payrolls of less than $3,000
- Agricultural businesses
- Railway express companies
- County and state fair associations
Some such companies might voluntarily carry workers' comp insurance, but they are not required by law to do so. If your employer has no workers' comp coverage, your attorney can help you to seek compensation from the South Carolina Uninsured Employers Fund or to file a civil suit to recover damages resulting from your work injury.
The following employees are generally not eligible for South Carolina workers' comp benefits:
- Sole proprietors or business partners
- Members of limited liability corporations (LLCs)
- Commissioned real-estate agents
- Federal employees of the state (who have their own federal workers' comp system)
- Casual workers hired on an as-needed basis
- Independent contractors
An independent contractor normally receives a 1099 wage statement, whereas a regular employee receives a W-2, but this is not always the case. Some employers intentionally misidentify employees as contractors to avoid paying workers' comp benefits.
General contractors may also require subcontractors to purchase workers' comp insurance for themselves and their workers in order to avoid liability for workplace injuries, which are more likely to occur in the building trades than in other areas. Your lawyer can help you find out if your employer carries workers' comp and if you're eligible for benefits.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In North Charleston, South Carolina?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our North Charleston office directly at 843.488.2413 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach, Florence or Charleston office locations.