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Dangerous Jobs, Volunteering, and Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation benefits will protect most South Carolina workers, regardless of the inherent danger level of the job. Labor-intensive areas such as construction often face more workers’ compensation claims simply due to the dangerous nature of the work the employees are performing. The type of coverage required for workers, however, is mandated by state law, and will provide generally the same protections whether a wall collapses on you at a construction site or if you slip and fall at your office job.

Background on Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Though the law may not facially discriminate on the type of occupation, South Carolina law, however, does differentiate on workers’ compensation benefits based on your status as an employee. Workers’ compensation benefits for paid employees at jobs that require workers’ compensation coverage (virtually any employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance with the exception of certain contract, government, or specifically enumerated occupations) will usually cover up to 66 2/3% of what you would make if you were still able to work. This is viewed as a “cap,” per se; a maximum amount you can collect based on the wages you would normally otherwise earn.

Volunteer Employees

This is not the case for volunteer employees. An Anderson County Sheriff recently wrote to a local judge, pointing to the disparities between workers’ compensation benefits for those in paid positions versus those that are volunteering their time for the greater good. Pointing to volunteer deputy sheriffs, firefighters, and rescue squad members, the sheriff pointed out an injured volunteer’s compensation will be merely a fraction of a paid employee in the event a debilitating physical injury happens on the job. The 66 2/3% of a paid employee’s salary is capped at around $750 per week for a paid employee, but shockingly, the maximum payment per week for volunteer service or peace officers is capped at $188 per week. This amounts to volunteers being entitled to a mere quarter of what their paid counterparts are entitled to under South Carolina law.

The Problem

The implications of this are apparent and significant. One would think public service organizations would like to incentivize volunteering, which, as WSPA points out, is a family tradition for many. The way the law in South Carolina is presently written provides little incentive and, alternatively, great financial risk, to volunteer in an inherently dangerous field of work.

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

While the present South Carolina law facially discriminates against those in volunteer positions versus their paid colleagues, this may not necessarily always be the case. Workers’ compensation is ready to undergo reform in South Carolina, with the last major changes being in 2007. At Solomon Law Group, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys respect your commitment to your job, regardless of whether you are working at your daily paying job or spending time as a volunteer. We understand the great emotional, physical, and financial toll a work injury can take on you, and will work with you to ensure that you are entitled to the maximum amount of compensation possible under the law. Call our Columbia, South Carolina office at 1-877-323-3120 today and let us help you on your path to physical and financial recovery.

 

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