How to get maximum workers’ compensation benefits if you get injured at work
Roofers are technicians who construct and repair roofs. Building and repairing roofs requires dangerous activities like climbing tall ladders as well as walking around and maneuvering tools and hot tar while working on top of buildings.
Roofers may also come in contact with power lines while working on a roof. The most severe roofing accidents are caused by falls, burns and electrocution.
Depending on their employment status, injured roofers may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation. In some cases, roofers who are injured while on the job may be entitled to file a civil claim to receive compensation.
Common injuries among roofers
When most people think of roofing injuries, falls come to mind. Falls can result in:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back injury
- Spinal cord injury
Additional common injuries for roofers include the following:
- Amputation. Accidental amputation can occur as a result of an accident that involves a power saw or other dangerous equipment.
- Skin and lung issues from fumes. Fumes from asphalt can cause skin irritation, breathing issues and possibly cancer.
- Puncture wounds. A roofer may sustain a puncture wound as a result of stepping on a nail. Untreated, these wounds can lead to serious infection.
- Overexertion injuries. Working on a roof may require long hours in the sun at a high elevation, placing roofers at a greater risk for heat sickness, sunburn, or a stroke.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Over time, roofers may develop carpal tunnel or other injuries as a result of performing repetitive tasks.
Roofing companies penalized after roofers fall
J & L Roofing, Inc.
In January 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited J & L Roofing, Inc., after a worker fell from a 2-story roof. The employer had previously received a citation for lack of fall protection at another worksite in 2018.
In the most recent case, J & L was also cited for failing to report the worker’s hospitalization within the required timeframe. Altogether, the employer was ordered to pay penalty fees totaling $74,751.
An OSHA representative stated in a press release that the worker’s life would have been saved if the employer had protected its workers from falls—the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
Double M Roofing & Construction
In another incident in Ohio, Double M Roofing & Construction received an OSHA citation after a 14-year-old fell off of a roof while working. The teen survived the fall but sustained critical injuries.
The regulatory agency issued 6 separate citations, including 2 instances in which the employer did not provide fall protection. Immediately after the teen fell, the company owner was seen working with other employees to put fall protection in place to cover the safety violation that led to the young teen’s accident and injury.
Two weeks after the fall, Double M workers were observed working at a different worksite at a height of 22 feet without fall protection in place. OSHA requires roofing employers to utilize fall protection when working at heights over 6 feet. A representative from OHSA noted that employers often have the required safety equipment on site; however, the employers do not always ensure the equipment is put in place as required.
Workers’ compensation for injured roofers
Most South Carolina companies that employ 4 or more workers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If an employee is injured on the job, the employer files a claim with the insurance company to allow the worker to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, meaning that workers don’t have to prove that their employers were at fault to get compensation. You only need to prove that your injury occurred during the course and scope of your work.
Workers’ comp benefits cover the injured worker’s:
- Medical expenses. All necessary medical expenses are covered under workers’ comp, including hospital stays, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, and medical supplies and devices.
- Lost wages. Injured workers are entitled to a portion of lost wages (typically two-thirds of their average weekly wage) while they are unable to work or can only work in a limited capacity. The length of time you can collect these benefits varies according to the severity of your injury.
- Death benefits. If a work-related injury causes an employee’s death, the employee’s surviving dependents may receive compensation.
As an injured worker, it is important for you to understand the types of benefits you are entitled to receive. Read on for more information.
Can contract employees get compensation after a work injury?
Contact roofers who are not classified as employees are likely to have more difficulty receiving benefits through workers’ comp.
Workers who believe they may have been misclassified as a contractor should contact a workers’ comp attorney to learn more about challenging their classification.
If injured, contract roofers should notify the employer and file a claim within 90 days of the injury in case they are later reclassified as employees.
Contractors who are certain they are barred from filing a workers’ comp claim may pursue a civil claim against the employer. A South Carolina work injury lawyer can help injured contract roofers determine their best course of action for seeking financial compensation after a work injury.
What to do after a work injury
To initiate the workers’ comp claims process, injured roofers should do the following:
- Seek medical attention. By getting medical treatment after an injury, you will prevent your injury from getting worse and also have medical documentation that can link your injury to your workplace.
- Notify your employer after an accident occurs. You must notify your employer within 90 days to qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
- Ensure your employer files your claim. In most cases, the employer will file a claim with their insurance company, and you should begin receiving benefits after the claim is approved. If your employer does not automatically file the required documentation with the insurance company to initiate your claim, you can file Form 50 directly.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer refuses to file a claim or your claim is denied, contact a workers’ comp attorney, who can help you appeal the decision and ensure your rights are protected.
How to prevent roofer injuries in the workplace
There are inherent risks in roofing. Nevertheless, roofers and their employers can take certain measures to greatly reduce the risk of a workplace accident.
Employers can prevent workplace injuries by implementing mandated safety requirements along with supervising and training their workers.
Roofing employers should also do the following:
- Access OSHA’s educational tools on preventing fall-related injuries and fatalities and help their workers understand how to avoid these injuries.
- Ensure roofers install fall protection when working at specified heights.
- Ensure workers properly use safety equipment like harnesses, hard hats, protective eyewear, gloves and boots.
- Regularly inspect all equipment and tools roofers will need to use in the course of completing roofing projects.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a work-related roofing accident, contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney. A workplace lawyer will examine the facts of your case and determine the best approach for seeking the compensation you deserve.
An attorney can also help contract roofers navigate the potentially complex process of determining the injured worker’s classification and filing a claim accordingly.
At Chappell, Chappell and Newman our experienced workers’ compensation 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 to receive a free case evaluation.