South Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws apply to anyone who works for an employer with four or more part or full time employees (with few exceptions). Workers’ compensation insurance, paid for and carried by your employer, is what will cover you if you experience any kind of work related injury or occupational illness. It is a no-fault system, so it doesn’t matter how the injury occurred or who may have been negligent in causing the injury. There are a few exceptions to this no-fault rule, as well, such as in cases where you caused your injury through intoxication or in a manner that was not related to your work assignments or within the scope of your employment. But what happens if one of your co-workers causes the accident through their own gross negligence, such as by being intoxicated or unreasonably reckless in their behavior. Can you sue a co-worker for negligence in a work related injury in Chester, SC?
How the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine Affects Workers’ Compensation Claims
In the past, the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine was the definitive factor of all workers’ compensation claims, which ensured that injured workers had just one means (one exclusive remedy) of recovering compensation for work related injuries, and that was through a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance of their employer. They could not sue their employer or any co-worker to recover further compensation, because of this exclusive remedy doctrine. Many states still stick rigidly to this doctrine, and employees cannot sue anyone outside of a third party (unrelated to employment), if a third party had anything to do with it. However, this no longer the only one that might apply to your case in Chester, South Carolina.
How the Dual Capacity and Dual Persona Doctrine Can Affect Potential Lawsuits
South Carolina is among the states that allow for the Dual Capacity and Dual Personal Doctrine, which makes it possible to file a lawsuit against your employer or a co-worker, on top of your workers’ compensation claim in certain situations. The name refers to how an employer or co-worker could have two roles, two capacities, in any work injury that might also result in a personal injury claim. For example, you may have a product liability claim against your employer because of a defective product that your employee manufactures, and which caused your injuries. In an example with a co-worker, if your co-worker was behaving recklessly and caused your injury, you might have a personal injury claim against that co-worker, also. Further, if your employer was particularly negligent, such as having knowledge or the co-workers tendency to come to work intoxicated, but doing nothing to address that situation, then you employer or the co-worker could be found to be liable for injuries, beyond workers’ compensation benefits.
What About Workers’ Compensation Claims That Also Include Third Parties?
Whenever you are injured on the job through the negligence of a third party, meaning someone who is not related to your employment, someone who is not an employer or co-worker, then you can also pursue a third party lawsuit against that individual or entity. A common example is mail delivery workers who slip on ice on someone’s property, when that homeowner’s duty of care included keeping the walkway safe for mail delivery services. Another example is when someone drives as part of their profession, but another driver causes an auto accident while you are on the clock for the company that you drive for. Here, you likely have a workers’ compensation claim in addition to a personal injury auto accident claim.
Dealing with Dishonesty and Retaliation on the Part of Your Employer
Sometimes, employers feel motivated to be dishonest or retaliate against employees who report injuries and file workers’ compensation claim. This is because they don’t want their insurance rates to increase, and they don’t want to deal with the possibility of new safety inspections that seek out improvements that need to be made to prevent such injuries. If you think your employer is misleading you about your claim, refusing to report your injury, or threatening to retaliate against you for filing a claim, then you need to contact a Chester, South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Elrod Pope Law Firm are happy to provide a free consultation, get the bottom of the challenges you may be facing with a dishonest or threatening employer, and make sure that you’re treated fairly.
It is important to recognize when inappropriate employer behavior is present, because there’s a decent chance that they’ll try to cover it up and act like the way they are responding to your injury is standard for the situation. For example, your employer might tell you to take some time off while you recover for your injury, and might even act noble about it, as if they are doing you a favor because they value you as an employee. You might not even realize that by agreeing to this, you are already compromising your workers’ compensation claim, and your employer might never even report that the incident occurred.
Contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm for Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
It is essential to know your rights, recognize inappropriate employer behavior, and know when it is reasonable to file a personal injury claim or third party claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation claim attorneys in Chester, SC at the Elrod Pope Law Firm understand these challenges and are prepared to help you in recovering the benefits and compensation you need after a work related injury in Chester, South Carolina.