The largest industry in South Carolina is manufacturing, which accounts for $40 billion in revenue annually. With nearly 15% of its workforce in factory occupations, South Carolina is one of the country’s top manufacturing states. Although factories are subject to strict safety guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other agencies, work-related accidents happen regularly in the manufacturing industry.
If you’re injured on the job in a South Carolina factory, you’re generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, but the insurance company that pays claims for your employer could try to devalue or deny your claim, especially if it’s costly or complicated. In such a case, a workers’ compensation attorney from the Derrick Law Firm can help you seek fair benefits.
Manufacturing Employers in South Carolina
South Carolina companies manufacture a variety of products, such as textiles, vehicles, metal, machinery, petrochemicals, electronics, computers, wood and paper products, plastic, and rubber. The employees who produce these items include:
- Truck and forklift drivers
- Pattern makers
Manufacturing Workplace Hazards
These manufacturing employees face a variety of workplace hazards that can cause injuries:
- Defective machines or power tools
- Insufficient lighting
- Toxic chemicals
- Falling objects
- Vehicle mishaps
- Improper or missing safety equipment
- Loud noise
Such workplace safety hazards can result in burns, lacerations, fractured bones, loss of hearing or vision, strains and sprains, crush injuries, repetitive stress injuries, back trouble, spinal cord damage, paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), loss of fingers or hands, and electrocution.
Taking Common-Sense Safety Precautions
While manufacturing employers are required to maintain high safety standards to protect employees, every worker can decrease the risk of accidents by completing all training conscientiously, reporting safety hazards and faulty machinery to a supervisor, wearing appropriate clothing, using protective equipment such as gloves and goggles, knowing the company’s emergency protocol and evacuation plans, and generally being aware of all hazards in the work environment.
What Workers’ Compensation Provides In South Carolina
If, despite required safety precautions and your own vigilance, you suffer an accidental work injury or develop an occupational disease (such as tinnitus or carpal tunnel syndrome), you may file a workers’ comp claim. If your claim is successful, workers’ comp will pay all your medical expenses, including:
- Appointments with doctors
- ER visits
- Transportation to medical appointments
- All medical treatment
- Physical therapy
- Assistive equipment (wheelchair, walker, or crutches)
- Home nursing care
Workers’ comp also reimburses two-thirds of wages you lose while off work for treatment and recovery. If you lose a loved one in a manufacturing work accident, you may file a claim for workers’ comp death benefits.
Because workers’ comp provides no-fault coverage, you don’t have to prove that your employer’s negligence caused your injury. Even if you’re responsible for your own accident, you may still file a claim. Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for doing so.
Exemptions and Exceptions
While almost all employers in South Carolina must carry workers’ comp insurance, the following employers are exempt:
- Companies with fewer than four employees or a yearly payroll of less than $3,000
- Railroad companies
- Agricultural businesses
- State and county fair associations
Most South Carolina full- and part-time employees are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, but there are some exceptions, including the following:
- Commissioned real-estate agents
- Members of limited liability corporations (LLCs)
- Federal employees of the state
- Casual employees working on an as-needed basis
- Independent contractors
If your employer is exempt or you are ineligible, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you seek other sources of compensation for your injuries. You might also be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent employer that does not carry workers’ comp.
When to File a Third-Party Workers' Compensation Injury Claim In Myrtle Beach
If your employer carries workers’ comp insurance, you generally may not sue your company over a work-related injury. A workers’ comp claim is your only recourse for recovering damages. If, however, your injury or illness was partially or completely caused by a party not affiliated with your employer, you might be able to sue that party with the help of an attorney. Examples of liable third parties include:
- An outside cleaning service that leaves a floor wet and causes you to slip and fall
- An outside manufacturer of workplace equipment if defective machinery caused your injury
- A vendor or other workplace visitor whose negligence played a role in your injury
A personal injury suit against a third-party defendant could make up the one-third of your wages that workers’ comp does not pay. It could also provide you with compensation for your pain and suffering, which workers’ comp does not cover.
The Workers’ Comp Claims Process In South Carolina
In order to receive the benefits you need and deserve, you must carry out the claims process promptly and properly. The insurer will use any mistake you make or any deadline you miss as a reason to dispute your claim.
Report and File
Although the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) gives you 90 days to report a work-related injury to your supervisor, you should do so as soon as possible, in writing. Include the date, time, and details of your accident, as well as the names of any witnesses.
Your employer should file your claim for benefits within a week to ten days. If this does not happen, you may submit Form 50 (for injury or illness) or Form 52 (for the death of a loved one) from the SCWCC website. The statute of limitations for doing so is two years, but again, you should not wait. Any delay in reporting or filing can be used by the insurer as evidence that you’re not badly hurt or that your injury is not work-related.
You must seek a diagnosis and ongoing treatment from a physician approved by your employer’s insurance company. (You may not simply see your own doctor.) An early diagnosis enables you to start treatment right away and gives you detailed documentation of your injury. Follow the doctor’s treatment plan to the letter, take medication as prescribed, keep your appointments, and get receipts for all your treatments.
Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you have problems with your claim or you’re forced back to work too soon, you may need an attorney. A workers’ comp lawyer can request an independent medical exam (IME), stand up to a resistant insurer, organize and present your medical evidence, call in expert witnesses, make sure you meet all deadlines, and negotiate a lump sum payment if necessary. If your claim is denied, your lawyer might also represent you in a hearing before the SCWCC or file an appeal in civil court.