SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL LAWYERS
Protecting the Injured, Serving Our Community.

Dangerous Jobs, Volunteering, and Workers’ Compensation

Published on Jan 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm in Uncategorized.

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.

 

Trucking Accidents

Published on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:00 am in Uncategorized.

With trucks on our roads weighing up to 100,000 pounds, it is no wonder that it can be particularly catastrophic when they are involved in accidents. Although winter does not bring us snow the way it does in most parts of the country, precipitation and other adverse weather conditions are concerns this time of year. Just recently, a trucking accident claimed the life of a woman in Florence City. The truck was backing out of a driveway.

Trucks and Driving With Trucks Tips

Smaller vehicles are ill-matched for a four-to-five axle truck’s sheer weight, size, and lack of visibility. It is estimated that nearly 170,000 people are injured, and around 5,000 are killed in trucking accidents annually. These numbers are so high for a variety of reasons.

First, truck drivers are not able to see out of their vehicle the way that most of us can in our day-to-day passenger vehicles. Large trucks have gigantic blind spots, that is, areas where the driver cannot see behind him even in his mirrors. If a truck driver attempts to change lanes when a small car is in his blind spot, the result can be catastrophic. Often, the driver may fail to realize they are in the truck driver’s blind spot, or they may assume that the truck driver sees them. Like any other driving interaction, never assume that another driver sees you. The driver has an obligation to make sure his surroundings are clear before changing lanes, but this can be nearly impossible if your vehicle is driving in an area where the driver cannot locate you.

Another contributing factor to the severity of trucking accidents is that due to the weight and size of a semi-truck, it can take up to forty times longer for a truck to come to a stop than a smaller vehicle. This affects people driving in front and to the side of semi-trucks on the road. If you are driving in front of a large truck, make sure the truck driver is keeping plenty of distance between your vehicle and theirs; if he is not, it would be a good idea to change lanes in case you need to come to a quick stop and the truck driver must brake quickly to avoid running in to you.

Columbia, South Carolina Trucking Accident Attorney

Our experienced truck accident attorneys at Solomon Law Group understand the tremendous emotional and financial burden being in any type of accident can have on you and your family’s life. If a truck driver’s careless or negligence, or a defective truck tire, part, or trailer, is the cause of your injury or a loved one’s death, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation may include recovery of lost wages from work due to permanent or temporary disability or immobilization, medical bill payment, pain and suffering compensation, or other monetary damages depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you believe your accident could have been caused by another driver’s negligence, contact our office today.

 

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation

Published on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm in Uncategorized.

If you have been injured or involved in an accident at work, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the losses you incurred. Most South Carolina employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is designed to protect employers from employees’ legal claims, should the employee be injured on the job. The insurance, though through the employer, will be paid out directly to the employee. If a death is involved, payments may be made to the deceased worker’s beneficiaries.

Your Obligations Under Workers’ Compensation Law

Being injured at work does not mean that you automatically receive workers’ compensation benefits. A work-related accident or injury must be reported within 90 days, or you may lose your right to recovery of benefits. It is always a good idea to notify your employer as soon as you become aware of the injury, and to leave a record of it in writing, even if you are unsure whether you will be claiming workers’ compensation benefits at that time.

Your employer’s insurance carrier will likely require you to visit one of their approved physicians. Though you can see your own physician at any time, the insurance company may require you to see theirs for a second opinion, or for referrals to specialists or surgeons. During this time, assuming the paperwork is properly filed, there is a seven-day waiting period before benefits will be disbursed to you; you may receive compensation for these seven days after the fact.

Benefits will continue depending on the circumstances, and you may still be entitled to benefits even if your doctor thinks you can be working light-duty jobs or reduced hours. If your doctor determines you are capable of working, even for short amounts of time, you are required to do so. You will usually be able to recover the difference between the full benefits you were receiving (66 ⅔%  of your normal wage) and what you are earning on light duty.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Though you are entitled to a portion of what you would normally be making had you not been injured, you may be able to recover for other things as well. You may be entitled to receive travel expenses for travelling to doctors that your employer’s insurance company is requiring you to visit. You may have prescriptions, surgical procedures, rehabilitative services, and other medical services covered by the insurance, too. These types of things are generally compensated through insurance, so long as you are going to one of your employer-authorized providers.

Charleston, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

To ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefits that you are entitled to by law, and to ensure you do not have significant delays in recovering your losses, it is important to file claims as quickly and accurately as possible. Retaining a workers’ compensation attorney that is familiar with South Carolina Workers’ Compensation regulations can greatly improve your chances at quick and full recovery. Our South Carolina team of attorneys understands how frustrating and stressful it can be being out of work financially and emotionally. We will work hard on your behalf to ensure you are taken care of while you take care of getting back on your feet. If you want to know more about your rights as an employee, especially if you have been injured on the job or involved in an accident, contact the Solomon Law Group today.

Emma’s Law Reforms DUI Punishments in South Carolina

Published on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:00 am in Uncategorized.

Legislators in South Carolina had great success in DUI reform this summer. South Carolina, previously criticized for being lax on drunk driving offenses, passed “Emma’s Law,” a law requiring an interlock device to start cars for DUI offenders. The law is named in honor of a 6-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 2012. Under the new legislation, anyone, including first-time offenders, who submits to a breathalyzer test and blows above a .15 will be required to have an interlock device in any car that they drive in the subsequent six months. First-time offenders may also use an interlock in lieu of a license suspension in the event their blood alcohol contact is between a .08 and .14.

Interlock Devices

Interlock systems are becoming commonplace among jurisdictions looking to reduce their DUI deaths. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, South Carolina is not the first state to introduce interlock-focused legislation. Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, and Louisiana have implemented similar laws, and their DUI rates have diminished by 33 to 46 percent.

An interlock device is a device connected to the ignition system of a vehicle. The device has a spot where the driver can blow into it (similar to a breathalyzer test) and it will detect any alcohol in the driver’s system. If there is a certain amount of alcohol (usually greater than .02) in the driver’s system, the car will not start. These devices can be expensive and must be paid for out of the convicted driver’s pocket, but the privilege of being able to continue driving is significant for most drivers.

The rationale behind implementing interlock system requirements stems from the fact that studies show having a suspended license does not necessarily decrease the convicted driver’s chances of driving anyway. This realization shifted punishments away from suspended licenses, realizing that three in four people simply ignore the punishment and hope they do not get caught. If statistically a previously convicted drunk driver is going to drive anyway, the best mechanism is to prevent their own car from starting if they are intoxicated. Granted, they could always drive another car, but the success stories from the states that have already implemented similar regulations show that despite this possibility, this law is keeping more people safe on the roads.

DUI Injuries in South Carolina

While Emma’s Law has proven effective in reducing DUI deaths on South Carolina roads, determined drunk drivers still plague our roadways. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At Solomon Law Group, we understand that the circumstances surrounding these types of claims are sensitive and emotional in nature; our South Carolina accident and injury attorneys are prepared to help you navigate the system and ensure the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Serving the greater Columbia, South Carolina area, our knowledgeable attorneys are always available to hear about your case and help you through this difficult time. Contact us today.

Personal Injury Cases in South Carolina

Published on Nov 28, 2014 at 9:00 am in Uncategorized.

In a broad sense, personal injury governs injuries that occur due to someone else’s failure to do something they were supposed to do. The action may be against an individual, an employer, a company, or owner, depending on the circumstances. An injured person may have a personal injury claim when they are injured due to the intentional or negligent acts of another.

What is Personal Injury Law?

A “negligent act” is an action taken (or not taken) by someone that breached an existing duty of care to others. This may arise, for example, in a premises liability case where someone is injured at a store because of a failure to clean up a spill; similarly, this may arise in a car accident where the other person was not paying attention to the road, which resulted in the crash. In those scenarios, the store owner has a legal duty to keep customers safe from preventable harms and the driver has a duty to use the utmost care and precaution when driving. The injured party can then bring a civil legal action against the negligent person, who may be required to pay monetary damages.

Types of Monetary Damages in Personal Injury Cases

When a person failures to act in a manner consistent with their obligations, they may be liable for the injured party’s personal injuries. If found liable by a judge or a jury, the liable party may have to pay sums of money to the injured individual. Though a court can choose to award an injured individual with many types of damages, there are generally two main categories: actual and punitive.

Actual (Compensatory)

Actual damages are, as the name suggests, what types of money has “actually” been spent as a result of the injury. This can include things such as property damage, medical expenses, future medical expenses or long-term care, or lost wages from a loss of ability to work. These damages generally need to be proven to a judge or jury through definitive measures such as by bills, receipts, and medical proof of long-term injury or disability.

Punitive

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. These damages are often seen in cases resulting in long-term debilitating injury, or in cases involving corporations, and are awarded so they will be deterred from engaging in further unlawful conduct. Some states, including South Carolina, place a limit on the amount of punitive damages that can be recovered. South Carolina caps punitive damage awards at three times whatever the compensatory damages award is. Despite this limitation, the damages award can still be quite significant, and may be awarded when the defendant’s actions were truly egregious.

Injured in South Carolina?

At Solomon Law Group, we understand how challenging it can be to juggle recovery, financial expenses, and the possibility of a lawsuit. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to by law. We are always available to hear the circumstances of your case and urge you to contact our Columbia, South Carolina-based attorneys so we can help you understand your legal rights.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Workers’ Compensation

Published on Nov 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm in Uncategorized.

Workers’ compensation insurance is a benefit that most South Carolina employers are required by law to carry for their employees. Workers’ compensation insurance will pay up to two-thirds of a worker’s salary if they were injured doing something they were required to do at work. This type of insurance is particularly important for employers that work in construction, at a factory, or other high-risk, labor-intensive occupations. This extends to government jobs such as police personnel.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In our very own town, Columbia, authorities charged a police officer in a recent on-the-job shooting. The case has gained significant media attention for a variety of reasons. First, the alleged officer’s actions are on videotape from the squad car’s dash cam. Second, the unique situation brings up the controversial idea of emotional trauma.

The police officer’s attorney believes that the officer may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a shooting incident in his past. As of now, this type of trauma would not make the officer eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. South Carolina legislators introduced a bill in early 2014 that would have created a dramatic shift in the way people with emotional injuries are cared for and treated. The bill actually sought to make law enforcement personnel eligible for exactly these type of injuries. The ultimate conclusion was that for people in occupations such as law enforcement, shooting someone is just “part of the job.”

Viewed as insensitive by many, there are still too many people that believe emotional injuries are not “real” injuries. With increases in suicide rates of those that have been at war or involved in domestic shootings while working through law enforcement, it makes one wonder about the true severity of PTSD. Critics are still under the impression that emotional trauma cannot match the severity of losing a limb or becoming permanently mentally impaired. Interestingly, the latter is exactly what we are talking about. PTSD is recognized by the reputable DSM-V as a “real” medical condition, and the effects of the disorder are widely publicized.

What Can I Do If I’ve Been Injured at Work?

At Solomon Law Group, we understand how difficult it can be to go back to work when life-changing events happen. Our team of workers’ compensation attorneys can help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to by law if you were injured in any way on the job. You may be entitled to receive portions of your salary, or be reimbursed for medical expenses.

Emotional trauma is just one of many types of injuries you or someone you know may have suffered at work. No matter what type of injury occurred, we are available to provide you with a consultation to help you understand your legal rights. Located in Columbia, South Carolina, you can trust our office to work hard for you and get you through this difficult time. Contact us today and get help now.

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