How South Carolina Walmart employees can get compensation after their work injuries
Walmart is a retail giant. More than 2.2 million people work for Walmart in more than 11,500 stores worldwide. Walmart’s average hourly wage is a little more than $14.
They have 122 stores in South Carolina, where 34,000 workers are employed. There are several types of retail stores, including supercenters, neighborhood markets and discount stores. In addition to retail stores, Walmart also runs distribution centers.
The variety of retail stores and distribution centers requires employees to have a variety of job responsibilities that expose Walmart workers in South Carolina to the whole gamut of worker injuries.
Common injuries to Walmart workers
Since Walmart workers have numerous job descriptions, they are exposed to many kinds of hazards and injuries. Below are the most common injuries associated with various departments.
Grocery and food processing departments
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the grocery stores’ injury and illness rate was 8.4 per 100 full-time workers in 2000. This is compared to 5.9 for all retail and 6.1 for all private industries.
Common injuries include food preparation accidents, especially in the meat department, where knives and power saws can cause severed fingers or hands, as well as burns from hot stoves.
Other injuries occur while stocking shelves with heavy products. Check-out clerks suffer leg, back and foot injuries from prolonged standing and repetitive motions. Workers also risk injury from falls from ladders or on wet floors.
Paint, lawn care, automotive and chemical departments
Many Walmart workers in these departments are exposed to toxic chemicals as well as injuries from moving and stacking heavy bags and equipment.
Warehouse and dock workers
Common hazards for warehouse and dock workers include forklift accidents, falling objects and crushing due to improperly secured loads.
South Carolina workers’ compensation law
If you’re a Walmart employee who has been injured at work, you’re probably entitled to assistance under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation program.
Walmart workers’ comp is a no-fault insurance system which means that an injured worker does not have to prove that Walmart was at fault to receive compensation.
The program is administered by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
In order to file a workers’ comp claim, an injured worker must comply with very strict rules. Therefore, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer immediately after your injury.
What benefits are available to injured Walmart employees in South Carolina?
South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Reimbursement for costs related to medical and rehabilitation treatments, including travel expenses
- Lost income replacement equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage
- Monetary compensation for partial disability and total disability
- Monetary compensation for disfigurement
- Death benefits payable to your dependents
It should be noted that benefits payable for workers’ compensation claims do not include compensation for pain and suffering, punitive damages or other benefits awardable under wrongful death actions. Your lawyer can advise you if you have a possible claim against any 3rd parties.
Manufacturing plant and warehouse injury at Boeing
Boeing has been operating some business in South Carolina since 2009 and since that time, the number of work injuries reported have been on the rise.
Eligibility for workers’ comp in South Carolina
Under South Carolina Statutes §42 1 130, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits if you fall within the following statutory definition of employee:
“The term ‘employee’ means every person engaged in an employment under any appointment, contract of hire, or apprenticeship, expressed or implied, oral or written, including aliens and also including minors, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed.”
This means that undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits provided they are injured while working at Walmart, whether or not Walmart is aware of their legal status.
Walmart workers’ comp claims process in South Carolina
Most employers carry 3rd-party insurance to pay workers’ comp claims. The independent insurer handles workers’ claims.
Very few companies qualify to self-insure. Walmart is 1 of the few companies that is self-insured and has a 3rd-party administrator (TPA) of claims under contract with Walmart. Claims Management, Inc. (CMI) is owned by Walmart. Therefore, Walmart has complete control of the claims process for its injured workers.
Since Walmart controls the process, Walmart selects the doctor you will see, dictates the treatment you will get and decides when your case will be closed. As a self-insured company, decisions regarding your claim will be made with Walmart’s best interests in mind.
That control will be most severely felt when it comes to negotiating Walmart workers’ comp settlements.
When to contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
Although Walmart wields extraordinary control over the disposition of your claim, it can be appealed to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Like other states, South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws are complex and require strict compliance with rules and procedures. The process requires the services of a personal injury attorney with specialized experience in workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ comp cases are often complicated and can be full of pitfalls, so it’s best to seek legal advice early on in the process.
Walmart’s workers’ compensation program is particularly challenging because of Walmart’s self-interested management and control of the claims process, and delay tactics are commonly used to force settlements that are favorable to Walmart.
A Walmart denial of your claim can be appealed. The first stop is the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, which begins with a hearing request to a single commissioner. From there, you can appeal to a panel of 3 commissioners. Ultimately, an appeal to the State Supreme Court is possible.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission is an independent state agency whose mission is to see that workers get the benefits to which they’re entitled. So there is a remedy for Walmart workers who think they didn’t get offered a fair settlement from Walmart.
If you’re injured on the job while working at Walmart, 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. We can negotiate with Walmart on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.