Workers across South Carolina are exposed to multiple risks every day. Falling objects are one of the most severe hazards for many workers, and unfortunately, one that they rarely think about. Falling objects of any variety can strike with surprising and sometimes deadly force. If you were hurt by a falling object or piece of equipment while at work in South Carolina, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and other types of financial relief for your medical bills, lost income, and more.
At Joye Law Firm, our Myrtle Beach workers’ compensation attorneys have more than 200 years of combined experience serving injured workers statewide. The hard work and diligence we bring to every case have helped us recover millions of dollars in compensation for injured South Carolinians like you. Call us at (888) 324-3100 or contact us online to learn what we can do for you in a free initial case evaluation.
Where Can Falling Object Injuries Occur?
Falling objects can injure workers in any workplace with loose items or defective safety equipment. However, workers in certain industries and locations are especially susceptible to injuries from falling objects and equipment. Let’s explore the most common places where falling objects injuries occur:
- Construction sites– According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “struck by” incidents from falling and flying objects are among the construction industry’s top four causes of worker fatalities. Falling object injuries can occur on construction sites when tools and other items fall from scaffolding, tumble into trenches, or drop from cranes or forklifts.
- Warehouses– Many warehouses have loose stacks or floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with large, heavy items, which workers must transport using forklifts or other machinery. A poorly-balanced stack or improper forklift maneuver can send warehouse goods plummeting to the ground, possibly causing severe injury to workers below.
- Loading docks– Workers responsible for loading and unloading goods, machinery, or shipping containers are vulnerable to falling object injuries. If objects in a warehouse, truck, or barge are improperly balanced or secured, they can topple over and leave workers with blunt-force trauma or crushing injuries.
- Retail stores– Many retail stores keep overstock items on overhead shelves for efficient storage and easy access. If these items aren’t stored and contained safely, they can fall onto passing workers and cause severe injuries. Falling objects are especially hazardous in bigger, warehouse-style retail stores like Costco, Home Depot, and IKEA.
- Other commercial properties– Falling objects injuries can affect workers on other types of commercial properties, too. For instance, a server at a restaurant could get hurt if a ceiling fan or decorative object falls and strikes them. Similarly, an office worker could be injured if unsafely stored supplies fall on them.
- Private properties– Finally, many workers sustain injuries from falling objects on private properties. Suppose an electrician makes a house call, and as they inspect the wiring in the homeowner’s garage, a precarious box falls from a rafter onto their head. In this scenario, the electrician might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from their employer (if they are not self-employed) and additional compensation from the homeowner’s property insurance policy.
While many people assume falling object injuries and malfunctioning equipment injuries are rare, these and similar incidents can and do happen daily, often due to negligence. If you have been injured by a falling object while at work in Myrtle Beach, SC, contact Joye Law Firm so our workers’ comp attorneys can review your case for free.
What Are Common Falling Equipment Injuries?
The severity of a falling equipment injury can vary considerably depending on the equipment’s size, shape, and weight. Smaller objects may cause painful bruises, lacerations, concussions or puncture wounds when they fall and strike workers. Large, heavy equipment can cause serious head or brain injuries, with effects that last the entire lifetime of the injured worker.
Here are some common examples of the injuries workers can suffer due to falling objects in the workplace:
- Head and neck injuries
- Facial injuries and dental trauma
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Partial or total paralysis
- Abdominal injuries and internal bleeding
- Arm, elbow, wrist, and hand injuries
- Dislocated or broken bones
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Amputation and loss of limb
- Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
- Leg, knee, ankle, and foot injuries
What Errors Cause Falling Equipment Accidents?
Everybody makes mistakes, but some falling equipment accidents go beyond the expected level of risk present in any workplace. Some falling equipment injuries and heavy equipment accidents are the result of severe negligence or inexcusable errors, such as:
- Unsecured equipment – Many workers frequently carry tools and other equipment with them as they work. If a worker places a sharp or heavy object in an elevated area without properly securing it, the object can tumble down onto workers on lower levels.
- Inadequate signage – If there is a risk of falling objects or equipment at a construction site, work zone, or another property, the property owner or site manager is responsible for posting clear warning signs about the risk. If a worker gets hurt because the party responsible for the property failed to inform them of fall hazards, the manager or owner of the property may be liable.
- Lack of protective equipment– Barricades, temporary fencing, and other protective barriers are an effective way of preventing falling equipment injuries. In most hard-hat zones on construction sites, barricades are essential to prevent the accidental entry of unprotected workers or other persons. Lack of protective barriers or personal protective equipment (PPE) can leave workers susceptible to serious injury.
- Faulty tools or machinery – Workplace equipment requires regular maintenance to remain safe for use. When hooks, belts, or other protective devices that secure or transport equipment fail because of inadequate maintenance, pieces of equipment can fall and injure workers below.
- Unsafe stacking of materials – Stacking large, heavy items requires a certain level of care and precision. If workers stack too many heavy items on top of one another or fail to balance stacks securely, objects can topple over and come crashing down on top of people below. Falling object injuries are widespread when items are stacked unsafely on forklifts or moving platforms.
What Compensation Is Available for Falling Object Injuries?
If you are an eligible employee, you are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits after a falling object injury at work. With a successful workers’ comp claim, you could receive the following types of benefits:
- Medical benefits – Any medical expenses you incur to treat your falling equipment injury should be covered by workers’ comp. However, South Carolina employers have the right to choose which provider you see for treatment. If you seek care from another provider, your employer’s insurance company may not cover the costs. However, there are exceptions if you must seek emergency care from a non-approved provider.
- Wage replacement benefits – If you are deemed too injured to work, you are entitled to weekly wage replacement benefits while you recover. Wage replacement benefits are worth up to two-thirds the average weekly wage (AWW) you earned before the injury occurred, up to certain statewide maximums. You can also receive wage replacement benefits if you can work but in a reduced capacity. In this case, the benefits cover two-thirds of the difference between your pre- and post-accident wages.
- Permanent disability benefits – If your falling object injury results in a permanent partial or total disability, you could be entitled to disability benefits. The value of partial or total disability benefits is calculated based on the nature of your disability and how the disability will likely affect your ability to find gainful employment.
If someone other than your employer is liable for your injuries, you could also have grounds for a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against them. For instance, if you were hurt on private property due to the owner’s negligence, you could file a claim against their commercial or homeowners’ insurance policy. With a successful third-party claim, you could recover compensation for the full value of your lost wages, the subjective costs of reduced quality of life, and more.
What If I’ve Been Injured by a Falling Object or Equipment Malfunction in Myrtle Beach?
If you have been hurt at work in Myrtle Beach by a falling object or malfunctioning equipment, you can take the following steps to protect your rights and establish a strong foundation for your injury claim:
- Seek medical care to have your injuries diagnosed, treated, and documented.
- Follow your doctor’s care plan and attend follow-up appointments as necessary.
- Report the injury to your employer and keep a copy of the report for your records.
- Gather evidence of your claim, such as photos of your injuries, eyewitness statements, and physical evidence like the dropped object.
- Hang on to medical bills, bank records, pay stubs, and other documentation of the injuries and losses you have suffered due to the incident.
- Watch what you say to the insurance company, your employer, and other parties after the incident. Anything you say could be used to deny or minimize your claim.
- Avoid sharing any information or photos online while your claim is pending.
- Contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Contact Joye Law Firm for a Free Consultation
The attorneys of Joye Law Firm have the experience and the resources to handle all types of worker injury claims, no matter how complex. If you are ready to discuss your claim with a compassionate Myrtle Beach falling object injury lawyer, call our firm at (888) 324-3100 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.