While working in a retail environment is generally not considered a dangerous way to make a living, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that retail employees sustain approximately 400,000 work-related injuries annually. If you were hurt in the course of carrying out your job duties at a Walmart, Target, or other similar store, you’re probably eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to pay your medical bills and reimburse part of your lost wages.
To receive benefits, however, you must complete the workers’ comp claims process correctly and on time. Even if you do so, you could butt heads with a tight-fisted insurance company that might try to delay, dispute, or deny your claim in order to save money. The workers’ comp attorneys at the Derrick Law Firm will work to counter an insurer’s “3-D” tactics.
Common Retail Work Injuries In Myrtle Beach
Retail workers don’t just stand behind counters, serve customers, and ring up purchases. They also perform a variety of other duties in an environment where accidental injuries occur regularly. Common retail worker injuries include the following.
Musculoskeletal Injuries From Overexertion
Nearly one-third of all injuries suffered in retail settings are musculoskeletal injuries that result from lifting and carrying heavy objects. Employees in big-box stores, convenience markets, and gas stations often stock shelves, load and unload forklifts, and empty garbage cans. Performing such jobs, especially over time, can sprain joints and strain or tear muscles in the back, neck, arms, hands, shoulders, and legs, causing swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Nearly 10% of retail work injuries result from slip- or trip-and-fall accidents in the workplace. When the floors inside a store are wet from recent mopping or spillage of liquids, an employee can easily slip and fall. Pallets and merchandise to be shelved often block or clutter the aisles and cause workers to trip and fall. Employees who climb ladders or stand on scaffolds to stock items or take inventory sometimes fall and hurt themselves. Common slip-and-fall injuries include fractured bones, contusions, and concussions.
Lacerations From Sharp Objects
Retail workers often use scissors or knives to cut open boxes of products in stores. They might utilize tools to assemble shelves and display items. Some of the merchandise they must handle also has sharp edges that can cause lacerations. If you’re accidentally cut on the job, you could lose a significant amount of blood or run the risk of infection. After your wound heals, you could be left with scars or disfigurement.
Brain Injuries From Falling Objects
In large retail stores, heavy merchandise might be stored on overhead shelves and moved by hand or by crane to other parts of the store as needed. If a heavy object such as a bicycle, a grill, or even an iron falls from a shelf or is dropped by a crane, it could land on a worker and cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that could leave the employee physically and cognitively impaired, perhaps for life.
Back Injuries From Heavy Lifting
Retail employees who regularly lift and carry heavy boxes and other items can suffer back pain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or damaged vertebrae on the job. Any back injury significantly impacts your ability to work and carry out other physical activities.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Performing physical functions such as running a cash register, bagging purchases, and stocking shelves again and again over time can cause you to develop repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which is very painful and limits your range of motion.
Retail employees often stand up for long hours on end. Prolonged standing can lead to backache, muscle cramps, and knee pain, affecting your ability to carry out your daily job duties.
Various Injuries From Vehicle Accidents
In large big-box stores, forklifts are often used to move merchandise from one place to another. Outside the store, many goods are now delivered by drivers to customers’ homes. Forklift and delivery drivers are at risk of vehicle accidents that can leave them with minor injuries like cuts and bruises or major damage such as spinal cord injury and paralysis.
Injuries From Gun Violence
Unfortunately, in the U.S. today, any retail store that’s open to the public is the potential site of a mass shooting. Retail workers could suffer gunshot wounds in such an event.
Workers’ Compensation for Retail Injuries In South Carolina
If you’re a regular full- or part-time employee of a retail business with four or more workers on the payroll, you’re generally entitled to file a workers’ comp claim for any of the work-related injuries discussed above. In order to receive fair benefits, though, you must carry out the claims process correctly and on time.
Seek Medical Attention
If your injury requires emergency care, seek treatment immediately from the nearest medical facility. Once your condition is stabilized, you must get ongoing medical care from a physician approved by your employer’s insurance company. You may not simply see your own doctor. Doing so could damage your claim.
Report Your Injury
As soon as possible after you’re hurt, report your injury in writing to your supervisor or a claims representative at your workplace. Include the time, place, and details of your accidental injury, and provide the names and contact information of any witnesses to your accident.
File Your Claim
If your employer does not file a claim on your behalf within a week to 10 days, do so yourself by submitting Form 50 from the website of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC). If you’ve lost a loved one in a retail accident, you may submit Form 52 to file a claim for workers’ comp death benefits.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
Keep all appointments with the doctor recommended by the insurer, stick to that doctor’s treatment plan, follow up on all referrals, and take all medication as prescribed. Keep receipts and documentation of your medical treatment. Be sure the doctor knows you have a work-related injury so that your bills can be forwarded to the insurer once your claim is accepted.
Know When to Contact a South Carolina Workers' Compensation Attorney
If your injury is minor, your medical bills low, and your time off work short, you might be able to handle your own claim as long as you complete the process correctly and observe all deadlines. If your injuries are serious and your claim is expensive, however, you could encounter resistance or a lack of cooperation from your employer or the insurance company. The following are signs that you should call an attorney:
- The insurer is slow to approve necessary treatments.
- You have not received weekly wage benefits on time.
- You are dissatisfied with your doctor or your treatment plan.
- Your employer tries to fire you or retaliate against you for filing a claim.
- You were forced back to work too soon.
- Your employer failed to accommodate the work restrictions your doctor gave you when you reached maximum medical improvement.
- Your claim was denied.
Under any of these circumstances, the attorneys at the Derrick Law Firm can work to guide you through the claims process, ensuring that you meet all deadlines and procedural requirements, handling all communications with your employer and the insurer.