Personal injury and Workers’ Compensation claims are structured quite differently in the courts. A personal injury claim arises when the defendant(s) “owed you a duty,” and breached a “standard of care” with a minimal culpability of “negligence.” In doing this, you must demonstrate that each defendant was the “but-for” proximate cause of your injuries. In order to collect monetary awards, you must be able to prove damages resulting from the defendant’s negligence. There may be many proximate causes or one sole proximate cause. This becomes tricky in professional malpractice cases where a patient may have contributory negligence from various doctors in separate events leading up to the ultimate case.
Establishing that the “standard of care” was breached in any professional liability case generally requires the certification of another specialist in the same field. There is also the issue of “contributory negligence.” This occurs when the defendants claim that you are a victim of your own negligence in full or in varying degrees. For example, if a store had waited hours to clean up a spill in isle nine, the store may hold you accountable for your own carelessness when you fall by arguing that five dozen other people observed the small spill and took reasonable precautions to avoid it.
A duty is either implied or expressly defined by terms of service contracts. Drivers on the road and brick-and-mortar businesses have a duty and “standard of care” that is established in many respects by law. A driver who is speeding and not following road rules may be found negligent on that basis alone by the courts, even if weather and other factors contributed to the accident. Please visit this website for more information.
A Workers’ Compensation injury is quite different. “Negligence” is not an element. The compensated injuries are more defined. See South Carolina law S.C.Code § 42-1-160, defining compensated injury as “an injury arising by accident out of and in the course of employment.” This comes from some unforeseen event; like that of a machine malfunctioning and injuring workers with shrapnel, for example.
The Workers Compensation Act requires most employers to carry compensatory insurance to cover such events, with some exceptions. The process for filing a claim is administrative and carried out by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. These decisions may then be appealed in the courts to clarify the nuances of the law or reverse legal errors.
In general, the Act covers injuries sustained on the job, and debilitating diseases that are directly attributable to the employer’s hazardous environment. An example of a debilitating disease covered under the Act is someone who develops carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive trauma. In the past, asbestos would be a prime example of working conditions that led to a myriad of debilitating lung diseases. For some people today, these occupational hazards are a calculated risk they may see as acceptable. For example, people who work in smelting may see the diseases suffered by some veteran workers as a mere calculated risk. With these principles in mind, assess your case!