Right to Sue: Injured Workers May Have Options Beyond Workers’ Comp

If you are injured while working on a construction site or other job site in South Carolina, you may be entitled to benefits from the South Carolina workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for medical care and lost wages regardless of whether your employer’s negligence caused or contributed to your accident.

However, in some cases, a third-party other than your employer may have been at fault in an accident. If so, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the third party.

The South Carolina workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, meaning that an injured worker has the right to receive benefits for a job-related accident without having to prove fault on the part of an employer. As long as you are covered by workers’ compensation and your injuries occurred as a result of a workplace accident, you should qualify for benefits.

The purpose behind enacting the workers’ compensation system was to make it easier for an injured worker to receive medical care and benefits. Previously, an injured worker had to file a personal injury lawsuit and prove negligence on the part of the employer to receive compensation. Compensation was not guaranteed, and cases could take months or years to resolve.  The workers’ compensation system removes these obstacles.

However, there is a trade-off. Workers’ compensation benefits cover only the costs of medical treatment and provide wage replacement only at the rate of two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Non-economic damages for pain and suffering are not available from the workers’ compensation system.

In some cases, the negligence of a third party causes or contributes to a construction accident. It is common for a number of companies to have workers at a site simultaneously. If a worker from another company is responsible for the accident that causes your injuries, you could have the basis of a third-party personal injury lawsuit instead of or in addition to workers’ compensation. This way, you may recover additional compensation for your injuries, including compensation for non-economic injuries.

Finally, under rare circumstances you can file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. If your injuries are the result of the intentional, egregious, or illegal actions of your employer, you may be able to pursue this type of lawsuit.