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 a portion of 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.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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