How to get maximum compensation after a work injury at a grocery store
Grocery store employees have proven themselves to be essential workers all across the U.S. These workers perform various duties around the clock to keep the stores stocked, clean and organized. Overnight workers also ensure the freshest products are on the shelves and ready to be purchased by the general public during regular business hours.
In 2022 alone, a total of 2,804,664 workers were employed by 63,328 grocery stores nationwide. Of the approximately 63,300 grocery stores across the country, 805 stores belong to major chains in South Carolina.
As many grocery store employees are already aware, the grocery store setting can be hazardous for workers, leading to serious injuries that result in days off work. Fortunately, legal remedies are available to help injured grocery store workers as they recover.
Common grocery store jobs
The most visible grocery store employees are cashiers, managers, and other workers who can be observed stocking shelves throughout the day and night.
However, there are several other roles that keep grocery stores running.
Warehouse workers unload delivery trucks that bring fresh products to the store. Bakery staff and deli workers prepare ready-made foods behind the scenes.
Every South Carolina grocery store employee is eligible to apply for workers’ compensation if they get injured on the job.
Common workplace injuries at grocery stores
Grocery stores have numerous seen and unseen hazards.
- Slip-and-fall injuries. Because grocery stores have hard surface floors that require frequent cleaning, slip-and-fall injuries are common. The constant presence of fruits, liquids, and other potentially slippery products that can easily fall off of shelves creates additional slipping hazards.
Slip-and-fall injuries can cause muscle strains, ligament sprains, broken bones and even more serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury, if the fall causes the worker to strike his or her head.
- Overexertion injuries. Workers who are required to stand on hard floors for extended periods or to lift, push and pull heavy items and equipment may sustain muscle injuries if they overexert themselves.
- Spinal cord injuries. Heavy lifting can also cause lingering back injuries like disc herniation.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Cashiers and baggers may sustain repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel, because they engage in the same repetitive movements for hours and days on end.
- Head injuries. In addition to slip-and-fall accidents, head injuries can occur if items fall from high shelves while stocking or unloading merchandise.
- Burn injuries, cuts and lacerations. Burns, cuts and lacerations are common amongst grocery store employees who work in bakery and food prep areas.
What workers’ comp benefits can injured grocery store workers receive?
South Carolina grocery store employees may receive benefits through workers’ comp if they get hurt at work. Most South Carolina employers with 4 or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance for their workers.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance. That means injured workers don’t have the burden of proving that their employer was at fault in order to qualify for benefits. Workers only need to prove that their illness or injury occurred during the course and scope of their work.
Through workers’ compensation, injured employees may receive compensation for the following:
- Wage replacement. You will receive payments for a portion of lost income (typically two-thirds) if a workplace injury requires you to take time off from work to recover.
- Medical expenses. Workers’ comp covers all of the injured employee’s medical bills and expenses they incur as a result of their workplace injury, including medications, hospital stays, doctor and emergency room visits, rehabilitation, medical devices and related equipment.
- Death benefits. If a work-related injury causes a worker’s death, the employee’s surviving family members may receive workers’ comp death benefits for lost wages and funeral expenses.
What to do if you’re injured while working at a grocery store
Grocery store workers who are injured in a workplace should take the following steps to ensure compensation:
- Seek medical attention. Always see a doctor after a work injury. This will prevent your injury from getting worse and also provide documentation that links your work accident to your injury, which is necessary for a successful workers’ comp claim.
- Report the accident. You should immediately report the incident to your employer. In reporting the incident, you’ll need to provide details like the date, time and location where the accident that caused the injury took place. Under South Carolina law, you’re required to report your injury within 90 days to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
- Contact an attorney. When possible, injured workers should contact a South Carolina workers’ comp lawyer prior to beginning the workers’ compensation process. Retaining a lawyer to handle a workers’ comp case is not a requirement. However, workers’ comp lawyers can help ensure all procedures are followed and forms are filed to prevent your case from getting denied.
- Ensure your employer files a claim. In some cases, an employer may refuse or otherwise fail to file an injured worker’s claim with their insurance company. Workers may file their claim directly by completing and submitting Form 50. However, it’s highly recommended that you contact a lawyer to help you with this process.
How long do I have to file a workers’ comp claim?
Workers should ideally file a workers’ comp claim immediately after the workplace accident happens. However, South Carolina law allows injured workers up to 90 days from the date of the accident to notify their employer about the accident.
Some cases are eligible for an exception to the rule. For example, if a worker develops an injury or illness over time (like carpal tunnel syndrome), the worker may not be aware of the injury immediately. In this case, the worker would be required to report the illness or injury within 90 of the date the worker discovered the condition.
What should I do if my workers’ comp claim is denied?
Workers have recourse if their workers’ comp claim is denied or contested by their employer. An appeals process is available to injured employees who wish to challenge the amount of payout or the overall outcome of a workers’ comp claim.
The injured worker may file an appeal with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. The commission will set a hearing date and assign a commissioner. At the hearing, the injured worker will have an opportunity to present their case. The worker may have attorney representation at the hearing. We recommend enlisting the help of an attorney who is thoroughly experienced in South Carolina workers’ comp cases.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney
Although the workers’ comp system is designed to be relatively timely and straightforward, there is always a potential for the process to get complicated.
South Carolina workers’ comp attorneys are available to provide legal representation and directly handle any complexities that may arise. They can also advise you of your rights and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to ensure you get maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Chappell and Newman. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too.
Contact us today for a free consultation.