Yes, it’s possible that you can. When you think of work-related injuries, dog bites are probably not the first ones that come to mind, but they happen more often than you might think. Some workers who suffer dog bites on the job are:
- Postal workers
- Garbage collectors
- Lawn care technicians
- Home remodelers/construction workers
- Delivery drivers
Workers' Compensation Dog Bite Injuries In Charleston, SC
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% of dog bites require medical treatment. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Nerve damage
- Eye/neck injuries
- Fractures of small bones
- Psychological trauma
Workers’ Compensation for Dog Bites
If you work in one of the positions above or any other that sends you onto private property or into people’s homes in Charleston, your dog bite injury might be covered by South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance. If you’re one of four or more employees, your employer is required to carry workers’ comp, which provides workers who suffer job-related injuries with no-fault coverage for:
- All medical expenses
- Two-thirds of lost wages
- Long-term disability care
- Vocational retraining (if needed)
If you’ve suffered a dog bite on the job, you may file a workers’ comp claim as long as:
- You’re an employee of the company for whom you were working when bitten. (Neither independent contractors nor casual workers are covered.)
- Your dog bite injury occurred by accident and arose out of/in the course of your employment.
Filing A Worker's Compensation Claim In Charleston Following A Dog Bite
If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury in the course of your job, you should immediately begin the claims process:
- Report your dog bite to your employer in writing and include photos of your injuries, the location of the accident, and the dog if possible. Although you have 90 days to do so, don’t wait. Any delay on your part might be used against you by the insurance company.
- If your employer does not file a claim on your behalf with the insurance company, request a form 50 from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), fill it out, and submit it. You have two years to do so, but, again, don’t wait.
- See a doctor certified by the insurance company.
- Follow that doctor’s orders carefully.
- Consult an attorney if your employer does not cooperate or if the insurance company disputes your claim.
Workers' Compensation Denials and Appeals
If your injuries are severe, your medical expenses high, and your time off work long, the insurance company might try to deny your claim or offer you insufficient benefits in order to save money. If this happens, you have the right to five levels of appeal:
- Informal conference
- SCWCC hearing request
- Commission review
- SC Court of Appeals
- SC Supreme Court
At every level, there are strict rules of procedure and deadlines to meet. The services of an experienced lawyer are highly recommended for a successful appeal.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim to Recover Additional Damages
If your workers’ comp claim is successful, it will cover only two-thirds of your lost wages and none of your pain and suffering. You might be able to recover the rest of your damages by retaining an attorney and filing a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company. (If you’re an independent contractor, you must file a personal injury claim for any compensation since you’re not covered by workers’ comp.)
In South Carolina, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for your damages if the dog bites you when you are either:
- In a public place
- On private property (including the owner’s property) lawfully and with permission, as you would be if you were working at someone’s home
The only possible defenses for the dog owner are:
- You harassed or provoked the dog before you were bitten.
- You were trespassing.
(For your workers’ comp claim if you’re filing both, these defenses could be considered irrelevant since workers’ comp provides no-fault coverage.)
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.