The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that slip-and-fall accidents are among the most common workplace mishaps in the U.S. Making up more than 20% of overall workers’ compensation claims, slip and falls occur when workers fall down on the ground, the workplace floor, steps or stairs, a ramp, a ladder, a platform, a trailer, a loading dock, or a scaffold.
If you’re accidentally injured in a slip and fall in the course of performing your job duties in Charleston, you’re entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer’s insurer. Because workers’ comp provides no-fault insurance coverage for employees’ work-related accidents, you don’t have to prove negligence on the part of your company. Even if your accident was your own fault, you might still file a claim for your medical bills and two-thirds of your lost wages, as well as disability care and vocational re-training in some circumstances. Your employer may not retaliate against you for filing a claim.
Causes of Workplace Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Slip-and-fall mishaps occur in construction work, factories, office environments, the food-service industry, healthcare facilities, and other settings for a number of reasons:
Dangerous floors and surfaces.
If the floor of your indoor workplace is rough, uneven, cracked, broken, or otherwise damaged, simply walking there can lead to falls and injuries. Even carpeted floors sometimes have loose seams or metal thresholds that can catch the heel or toe of your shoe and cause you to trip. Slopes, potholes, uneven turf, or mud on the ground at your outdoor workplace can make walking there hazardous, as well.
Objects on the floor or ground.
Tools, toolboxes, power cords, building materials, and other items on the ground at an outside worksite or on the floor in a factory can cause employees to trip. Merchandise on the floor or on a pallet in a store or supermarket often trips workers, too. Toys, shoes, backpacks, and other children’s items can be hazardous if left on the floor of a school or daycare center.
Ice, snow, or oil in a company parking lot, recently mopped floors in an office, or food and beverage spills in a restaurant can result in reduced traction and cause workers to fall down.
Moving from one level to another.
If you’re climbing stairs, riding on an escalator, or walking on a ramp, you’re at greater risk of falling than you would be on a flat surface. The distance you might fall is also greater if you’ve moved from a lower level to a higher one, so your injuries could be more serious. Even if you’re standing on a ladder, a roof, or a chair and lose your balance, instability, gravity, and the distance between you and the floor or ground put you at risk of severe physical damage.
The injuries you might suffer in a Charleston slip and fall range from minor scrapes, bumps, and bruises to traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage, and paralysis. If your injury is minor, your medical bills low, and your days off work few, you can probably pursue your own workers’ comp claim without legal assistance as long as your employer agrees that your accident was work-related.
If, however, you’ve suffered a serious injury leading to high medical bills, extended time off work, or possible long-term disability, your employer’s insurer might find ways to dispute your claim in order to save money. In such a case, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you seek the benefits you need and deserve while you focus on your recovery.
What to Do After a Slip-and-Fall Mishap
When you’re hurt in a work-related slip-and-fall accident, you should report your injury to your employer immediately. If a claim is not filed on your behalf with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), you may file your own claim with a Form 50 from the SCWCC website. See a physician recommended by your employer’s insurer (not your own doctor) and follow that doctor’s advice conscientiously. Attend all scheduled appointments and therapy sessions. Be sure to keep receipts and other documentation of your treatment and recovery.
If the insurer disputes your claim, fails to authorize necessary treatment, is late with weekly checks, or is otherwise uncooperative, consult a workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer can help you pursue fair benefits by thoroughly investigating your accident, organizing your medical evidence, and making sure you meet all procedural deadlines in the workers’ comp filing process. If your claim is denied, an attorney may help you appeal at five different levels if necessary: an informal conference, an SCWCC hearing, a Commission review, SC Court of Appeals, and SC Supreme Court.
The Coming-and-Going Rule
If you’re hurt in a slip-and-fall accident on the way to or from work, your injuries are generally not covered by workers’ comp. There are, however, some exceptions to this coming-and-going rule. If, for example, you’re injured in a company parking lot or on a company-owned driveway or sidewalk as you enter or leave the workplace, you might be able to file a claim. If your job requires travel to outside locations and you slip and fall in the course of doing your work off your company’s premises, you might be covered. Your attorney can help you determine whether your injuries are compensable.
Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
While almost every South Carolina with four or more employees is required to carry workers’ comp insurance, there are some exceptions:
- Employers with fewer than four employees
- Employers with an annual payroll of less than $3,000
- Railroad companies
- Agricultural businesses
- State and county fair associations
There are also some workers who are not eligible for South Carolina workers’ compensation. You’re generally not covered if you are:
- An independent contractor
- A member of a limited liability corporation (LLC)
- A sole proprietor or business partner
- A commissioned real-estate agent
- A Federal employee of the state
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol when injured
- In the process of committing a crime when injured
- Guilty of intentionally inflicting your own injury
An experienced attorney can help you determine whether you’re eligible for benefits and assist you in pursuing other means of compensation if you’re not.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.