Grocery store work encompasses a wide variety of jobs, from cashiers to stock clerks to administrative jobs and positions such as bakers, butchers, and meat cutters. The potential for a workplace injury is just as varied, ranging from strains and sprains to severe cuts and burns, to parking lot accidents.
If you are a grocery store worker injured on the job in South Carolina, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to be sure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you are due after a workplace accident. Employers and their workers’ comp insurance carriers may dispute a grocery worker’s injury claim and try to deny benefits to an injured worker. If you are unfamiliar with the S.C. workers’ comp bureaucracy, you should have a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer to guide you through the process.
The attorneys at Joye Law Firm have nearly 250 years of combined legal experience and can help you pursue the maximum compensation available to pay your medical bills, replace lost income, and more. We can examine your case and determine whether to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury action – or both – on your behalf.
Joye Law Firm has offices in North Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, and Myrtle Beach. Our workers’ comp attorney is available to meet with you and discuss your legal options. If you cannot come to us, we will happily come to you. Contact us now for a free legal consultation.
Workers’ Compensation for Injured Grocery Store Employees
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to most employees who are injured on the job in South Carolina, regardless of the employee’s role in the injury in most cases. The South Carolina workers’ compensation system provides benefits that cover 100 percent of the injured employee’s medical bills and replace a portion of the income the injured worker may lose due to a temporary disability.
There are relatively simple and straightforward rules for applying for workers’ comp benefits. But the reality of a claim – particularly an expensive claim – is often different.
Most workers’ compensation insurance carriers try to protect their bottom line by paying out as little as possible in claims. For instance, insurers may try to avoid paying benefits by claiming that a grocery worker’s injury or illness is not job-related or that the worker’s condition is not as severe as the worker claims. An insurer may push the treating physician to certify the injured employee is ready to return to work before the worker is really ready, to halt benefits.
Employers sometimes try to stop workers’ comp claims due to concern that a large payout will lead to higher insurance premiums. An employer may suggest the injured worker rely on his or her healthcare insurance instead of filing a workers’ comp claim.
It is critical for an injured grocery store worker to have a dedicated attorney who will protect the employee’s rights if these tactics are used against them. Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Joye Law can gather medical records and testimony from medical professionals and vocational specialists to establish a grocery store worker’s right to compensation and pursue the full amount of benefits that South Carolina law provides.
On-the-Job Hazards S.C. Grocery Store Workers Face
A grocery store operation is much more complex than the average shopper realizes. Much of what occurs in the receipt, stocking, storage, and preparation of packaged and prepared foods for sale at a grocery occurs out of public view. There are also administrative office operations, stockrooms, loading docks, and other facilities that employees use while on the job.
Many of the work-related injuries and illnesses experienced by grocery store workers are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as back injuries and sprains or strains that develop from overexertion and repetitive motion.
The injuries suffered by grocery store workers are often linked to the specific hazards encountered by the occupations within the grocery store industry.
Store managers, cashiers, baggers, and stock handlers experience mostly sprains and strains. Stock handlers, baggers, and laborers suffer back injuries more frequently. Kitchen workers, butchers, and meat cutters are susceptible to cuts, scalds, and burns as well as sprains and strains. Sales personnel who work in grocery store aisles are more like to encounter slip and fall hazards, falling stock, and violent customers.
Common Injuries Suffered by Grocery Store Employees
Many grocery store workers handle thousands of items each day to unload delivery trucks, stock shelves, check and bag groceries, and prepare meat products. The job tasks include lifting, pushing, separating, repetitive motions, and standing for long periods of time.
Because of the repetitive nature of some jobs, grocery workers risk such cumulative injuries as:
- Muscle strains and back injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injuries (a shoulder problem)
- Elbow problem
- Trigger finger, which occurs from repeated use of a single finger.
In addition, grocery workers are subjected to the potential for accidents that lead to traumatic injury:
- Slips and falls causing broken bones, head injuries, back injuries
- Blunt force injury in “struck-by” accidents from falling stock or palleted goods
- Contact with machinery and equipment causing cuts and burns
- Motor vehicle accidents occurring during transport and delivery of groceries
- Chemical exposure due to the use of industrial-strength disinfectants and sanitizing chemicals
- Bacterial hazard exposure if cutting boards, knives or other utensils used in contact with raw foods are not properly cleaned
- Occupational violence perpetrated by customers or fellow employees.
If an injury occurs during the course and scope of a grocery worker’s performing his or her job duties, the injured worker may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. South Carolina defines “course and scope” as a work activity done in furtherance of the interests of their employer.
S.C. Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The basic workers’ comp benefits are:
- Medical Expenses. South Carolina workers’ compensation pays the full cost of the injured worker’s medical treatment related to the workplace injury. This is often the primary benefit of an injured worker due to the high cost of medical care. It is important to keep in mind that workers’ comp pays for all care, including vocational or occupational rehabilitation needed to regain skills after a severe injury.
- Lost Wages. Once an injured worker has been forced to miss seven days of time on the job, he or she is entitled to workers’ comp payments covering a portion of lost wages. South Carolina workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit set each year. For 2020, the limit was $866.67 per week.
- Long-Term Disability: In total disability or death cases, benefits can last for up to 500 weeks. These cases are extremely complex and likely to be contested by the insurer. If your loved one suffered a total disability or was killed in a workplace accident, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Additional Compensation Through Third-Party Claims
If a worker’s injury was caused by someone other than the employer or co-worker, the injured worker may be able to seek additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Pursuing a third-party claim could allow the worker to recover compensation not available to them under state workers’ compensation laws, such as additional lost income and compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or other non-economic damages.
A third party held liable in a personal injury claim may include:
- A vendor who was delivering a product to a grocery store or performing maintenance or remodeling work at the store
- A driver who caused a motor vehicle accident at a grocery
- A customer or member of the public who caused an accident or committed an assault
- The manufacturer of defective equipment that injured the worker
How Our South Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help You
The South Carolina workers’ compensation system has complex regulations that must be followed when filing claims and appealing denied claims. It is difficult to pursue an appeal on your own while struggling with an injury or illness. The worker’s employer can rely on an insurance carrier whose staff and lawyers were hired to deal with the system every day.
Having a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer on your side who has worked with the S.C. workers’ compensation system levels the playing field if you are pursuing a workers’ comp claim.
Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm can review the circumstances of your occupational injury and make sure that your workers’ compensation application is complete, accurate, and on time. We can refer you for a second-opinion examination with a doctor, if needed, to substantiate the extent of your injury. If your claim has been denied, we can appeal the decision for you. If your case warrants a third-party claim, our personal injury lawyers can pursue that compensation for you, too.
The experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you deal with the complex process of pursuing all the benefits available for a workplace injury or occupational disease related to your work in a grocery store.
Contact Our SC Workers Compensation Lawyers
The attorneys of Joye Law Firm have the skill, experience, and resources that it takes to tackle the most challenging grocery worker injury cases. When you work with us, you will quickly see that we are committed to helping you pursue appropriate workers’ compensation benefits and restore the quality of your life.
To learn more, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. We have offices in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Clinton, S.C., and can travel to meet you wherever is convenient.