Employees that work with toxic chemicals and heavy equipment in chemical plants are exposed to a variety of workplace hazards. While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates these businesses and requires employers to create a safe work environment, plant accidents still occur and can seriously injure employees.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious injury or illness related to your work at a chemical plant, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The skilled chemical plant injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm are here to help. We’ve been standing up for hardworking people across South Carolina for more than 50 years. As demonstrated by our reviews from past clients, we are committed to helping victims seek the results that count while also providing superior customer service.
At Joye Law Firm, we have the skills and resources to help you pursue the best possible outcome of your case. Our attorneys have been recognized by national rankings such as Super Lawyers for their legal skills, as well as their dedication to helping strengthen communities across South Carolina. We can evaluate your case, help you understand your legal options, and help you fight for your rights.
If you’ve been injured in a chemical plant accident and been denied workers’ compensation, then contact our workers’ comp attorneys at Joye Law Firm to stand up for your rights. We have four offices across South Carolina, conveniently located in North Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Clinton to serve you. To get started, set up a free consultation by calling (888) 324-3100 or contacting us online today.
Chemical Plant Injuries in South Carolina
South Carolina chemical plant injuries have led to a variety of injuries and illnesses for workers and people in surrounding communities. For example, at least nine people were killed and more than 30 others injured in a 1991 explosion at a chemical plant north of Charleston that occurred while workers were blending chemicals in an enclosed mixing system. Area residents said they could hear the blast from several miles away.
The explosion came after 25 people were injured at the same plant earlier in 1991 when someone inadvertently turned a valve for a hazardous chemical, and after a chemical spill caused another explosion at the same location in 1983, injuring 16 workers.
More recently, Charleston residents were put on lockdown in November 2019 due to a phosphorous leak at a nearby chemical plant. Earlier, one woman was killed in 2009 due to an ammonia leak at a plant in Swansea near Columbia. In the Swansea incident, the company didn’t use proper safety precautions, such as safety valves and an alarm system, which might have prevented the tragedy.
If you are suffering from a chemical plant injury or illness caused by an event like these recent leaks or explosions or any other type of chemical plant accident, then you might be entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits.
The Workers’ Compensation Act in South Carolina requires most businesses with four or more employees to have workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees who suffer workplace injuries, including injuries and illnesses stemming from chemical plant accidents. Workers’ comp benefits help cover:
- Medical expenses. Workers’ compensation should cover all medical treatment necessary to help you recover from your work-related injuries or illness. This includes expenses like doctor visits, medications, medical supplies, surgeries, prosthetic devices, and hospitalization.
- Lost income. Compensation typically covers two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a specified period of time while you are recovering. After you reach maximum medical improvement, if you have permanent disabilities, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of function of a body part, for example. The amount of income compensation you can receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and your impairment rating.
- Death benefits. If your loved one was killed in a chemical plant accident, then workers’ comp provides surviving loved ones with compensation to cover burial expenses, as well as payments to help make up for the loss of the deceased’s income.
To initiate a workers’ comp claim, you must report your injury to your employer within 90 days of the accident. You must also file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) within two years of the accident.
If your employer or workers’ comp insurer denies your claim or tries to discontinue payments before you have been released from a doctor’s care, then you can appeal the decision with the help of our knowledgeable workers’ comp attorneys. A Commissioner will decide what relief you are eligible to receive based on evidence and medical records that you and your employer present in a hearing.
If you are dissatisfied with the Commissioner’s ruling, then you can appeal the decision to the full Commission, which will hold another hearing. If you still feel that the decision is unfair, then you can appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Types of Injuries Among Chemical Plant Employees
Some of the most common injuries that chemical plant employees experience include:
- Respiratory problems
- Illnesses caused by toxic exposure
- Skin disorders and diseases
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Hearing loss
- Cuts and scrapes
- Vision loss
Causes of Accidents in Chemical Plants
Some of the most common causes of accidents, serious injuries, and occupational illnesses in chemical plants include:
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Explosions and fires
- Radiation exposure
- Faulty wiring and machinery
- Improper or faulty ventilation
- Repetitive motions and overexertion
- Improper training on equipment use and safety measures
- Spills of corrosive chemicals
- Transportation incidents, including those involving company vehicles and equipment like forklifts
- Poorly stored chemicals
- Safety equipment defects or failures
- Worker errors
- Accidental chemical interactions
- Failure to use safety equipment, including face shields, gloves, boots, respirators, hoods, and chemical resistant clothing
- Chemical spills
- Insufficient or faulty warning systems
- Falls, including from elevated surfaces such as ladders and catwalks
- Contact with equipment, such as getting crushed or caught in machinery
What Should You Do After a Chemical Plant Injury?
There are a few steps you can take after a chemical plant accident to protect your rights:
- See a doctor. The most important thing to do after a chemical plant accident is to take care of your health. Visit a medical professional to have your injuries or illness evaluated as soon as possible.
- Report your injury. Under South Carolina’s workers’ comp laws, employees typically must tell their employer about workplace injuries or illnesses within 90 days of the accident to access benefits. However, it’s critical to report your injury as quickly as possible to improve your chances of receiving full workers’ comp benefits.
If you wait too long to notify your employer, the employer or insurance administrator may try to argue that your injuries were caused by something besides a workplace accident or that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim.
- Contact a qualified lawyer. It’s critical to work with an attorney who has experience handling workers compensation claims and appeals. The amount of compensation you receive is often based on the evidence that you provide in your initial workers’ compensation claim.
An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you gather the evidence needed to support your case, and help you fight throughout the claims process for the full benefits that you deserve.
How a South Carolina Workers Compensation Attorney Can Help You
The best way to get the full compensation you’re owed from a chemical plant injury or illness is to work with a respected South Carolina workers’ comp attorney. Insurance companies usually try to pay out as little as possible for workplace accidents. They often offer low settlements initially that don’t cover the full scope of the damages that workers suffer.
However, your lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to help you seek the benefits you deserve. If the insurer will not agree to give you fair benefits, then your lawyer can also help you file an appeal and help you fight for your rights before the Commission.
It may also be possible for you to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit if a third party holds some liability for the chemical plant accident in which you were injured. An experienced chemical plant injury attorney at Joye Law Firm can evaluate your case and help you understand the full range of legal options. We can file a chemical plant injury lawsuit on your behalf, if appropriate, and stand up for your rights throughout the process.
You should take the time to understand your legal options if you or a loved one is suffering from a chemical plant injury or illness. The attorneys at Joye Law Firm are ready to help you fight for your rights. To get started on the road to recovery right away, contact us to set up your free consultation. Call us at (888) 324-3100 or contact us online today.