doctor treating patient with burn injury | South Carolina Workers' Compensation LawyerThe American Burn Association reports that nearly 100,000 people each year are hospitalized for burn injuries, and a significant number of such injuries are work-related. Employees most likely to suffer on-the-job burn injuries are those who work where there are open flames, flammable materials, faulty electrical wiring, or risks of fires and explosions.

If you’re burned in the course of performing your job duties in South Carolina, you’re generally eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation, which is no-fault insurance that covers employees’ medical expenses and wages lost due to work-related injuries. Most South Carolina businesses and companies with four or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp. To receive benefits, you don’t have to prove that your employer negligently caused your injury. Even if you’re responsible for your own accident, you may still file a claim, and you can’t be fired or penalized in any way for doing so. 

High Burn-Risk Occupations in South Carolina

Employees working at the jobs listed below are the most likely to suffer work-related burn injuries:

Factory Workers

Manufacturing industry employees are apt to sustain burns from faulty wiring, assembly line mishaps, contact with hot surfaces, equipment malfunctions, and chemical spills.

Construction Workers

Builders, contractors, and other construction industry workers are frequently burned by hot equipment surfaces, gas lines, and electrical wiring.


Contact with electrical wires and other equipment makes electricians vulnerable to work-related burn injuries.

Food Service Employees

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that food service workers are six times as likely as other employees to be burned on the job. Chefs, cooks, servers, and other employees who work near open flames, stoves, hot oil and grease, steam from dishwashers, and boiling liquids are regularly burned at work. The types of burns commonly suffered by employees in restaurants, bars, delis, and catering companies are listed below.

  • Scalding burns, which make up more than one-third of all burn injuries, occur when the skin comes into contact with hot liquids or steam.
  • Thermal burns result from contact with hot surfaces like those of stoves, ovens, pots, pans, plates, and food.
  • Electrical burns are typically caused by exposed wires, worn-out extension cords, and faulty kitchen equipment. Almost one-quarter of all non-fatal electrical burns take place in the food service industry.

Burn Injuries Can Be Catastrophic

Burns are categorized as first-, second-, or third-degree, according to their severity:

  • First-degree burns. First-degree burns are superficial, causing redness and pain in the epidermis (the top layer of the skin). They can often be treated with first aid and do not always require medical attention.
  • Second-degree burns. Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and the underlying dermis. Characterized by swelling, redness, blistering, and discoloring of the skin, they generally require medical treatment.
  • Third-degree burns. Third-degree burns damage all layers of the skin, as well as muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones. They are extremely painful and dangerous, requiring medical care and perhaps skin graft surgery.

Treatment for Severe Burn Injuries

If you suffer a first-degree burn on the job, appropriate first-aid treatment includes:

  • Running cool water over the burned area to reduce swelling
  • Cleaning the burned area gently with mild soap and water
  • Applying antibiotic ointment as long as the skin is not broken
  • Protecting the burned area by wrapping it loosely in sterile gauze

For second- and third-degree burns, which can lead to infection and scarring, you should seek immediate medical care. If you’re not sure how serious your work-related burn is, see a doctor as soon as possible for the quickest recovery and documentation of your injury.

Workers’ Compensation for On-the-Job Burn Injuries

If you suffer a work-related burn injury, you’re entitled to workers’ comp coverage of all your medical expenses, including emergency room treatment, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, pain medication, skin grafts, and other necessary surgery. You’re also entitled to two-thirds of your normal salary for the time you’re off work for treatment and recovery.

Once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and are released by your doctor to return to work, you’re entitled to a light-duty job if you have injury-related restrictions that prevent you from performing your previous job. In such a case, workers’ comp provides two-thirds of the difference between your previous and current salaries. If you’re left with a permanent partial disability, you’re entitled to compensation for a specific number of weeks determined by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), according to your particular disability.

Scarring and Disfigurement Workers’ Comp Benefits

If your work-related burn injury leaves you permanently scarred or disfigured, you could be entitled to additional compensation for total disability of the skin, which can provide up to 300 weeks of lost-wage benefits, depending on your percentage of disability. Permanent disfigurement of your face or any part of your body that is normally exposed in the work environment can get you up to 50 weeks of compensation.

Facial disfigurement can also cause victims to suffer psychologically due to the changes in their appearances, and psychological injuries are compensable under workers’ comp as long as you can prove they resulted from your accidental burn injury.

Fighting the Insurance Company

Because burn injury claims are often complex and expensive, your employer’s insurer, which actually pays workers’ comp benefits, is likely to look for ways to delay, devalue, or deny your claim. The services of a workers’ comp lawyer are highly recommended to help you seek the benefits you need and deserve in a serious burn injury case.

What to Do If You’re Burned on the Job

As soon as possible after your accident, report your burn injury in writing to your supervisor. Include the date, time, and location of the accident, and include photos of your burn if possible. Seek medical treatment right away from a physician approved by your employer’s insurer. Follow that doctor’s orders precisely and keep records and receipts for all your treatments.

If your employer does not file your claim with the SCWCC within a week or ten days, do so yourself by submitting Form 50 from the SCWCC website. Although you have 90 days to report your injury and two years to submit your claim, you should not wait to do either. Any delay on your part can be cited by the insurer as evidence that you’re not as badly hurt as you say you are or that your burn injury is not work-related. If your injury is a second- or third-degree burn or if your employer or the insurer is uncooperative in any way, consult a workers’ comp attorney for help with pursuing your claim or appealing a denial.

Have You Been Injured On The Job In Conway, 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 Conway office directly at 843.248.7486 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our CharlestonMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach, Florence or North Charleston office locations.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.