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Industrial Accidents / Third Party Workplace Injury Cases

Individuals who work in industrial settings (including power plants, manufacturing facilities, paper mills, etc.) and on construction sites are constantly exposed to dangerous working environments and conditions. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), of the 5,333 workers who died on the job in 2019, 1,061 were in the construction industry, accounting for one in five worker deaths that year.

When a South Carolina worker is injured or killed on the job, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act entitles that worker to receive fixed monetary compensation for their injuries and damages. The South Carolina workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, which means that, with few exceptions, all employees are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation laws and eligible for benefits. Workers’ compensation can cover costs such as disabilities, income loss, medical coverage, and rehabilitation.

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act also provides employers with immunity from civil lawsuits brought by employees who suffer on-the-job injuries. However, South Carolina law does not bar a lawsuit against a third party (someone other than an employer) who is responsible for a workplace accident or injury. Depending on the circumstances, there are a number of potential third parties who might be liable for injuries that occur in industrial settings or while working on multi-employer construction projects. Some common examples we have seen include:

  • Manufacturers or sellers of defective equipment
  • Outside vendors
  • Utility companies
  • Property owners
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Delivery drivers
  • Material suppliers
  • Governmental entities
  • Project managers or upstream contractors

A claim against a third party has the potential to provide an injured worker additional damages that workers’ compensation does not cover including, but not limited to, loss of future earning capacity and pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. A third-party lawsuit can also provide an injured worker with higher compensation for permanent scarring and disfigurement, as well as other damages not fully covered by workers’ compensation. In short, a third-party case lets you recover compensation above and beyond what workers’ compensation offers.

South Carolina law allows an injured worker to collect workers’ compensation benefits and at the same time pursue a third-party lawsuit. However, in such instances, the employer has a lien against the employee’s recovery for all of the benefits that were paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Fortunately, by law, that lien will be reduced by reasonable attorney’s fees (up to 1/3) at the time of judgment or settlement of the third-party case.

If you believe that your workplace injuries were caused by the negligence of a party other than your employer or a co-worker, contact Morgan Litigation Group today. Our experienced Lexington personal injury attorneys will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident at no cost to you to determine whether the potential exists for a claim against a third-party or parties.

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