How Common is Worker’s Compensation Fraud in South Carolina

Worker’s compensation is what the employees get when they get injured while they are performing their duties in their course of their employment. Then they are entitled to recover compensation with regard to these injuries.

Workers’ compensation is basically a social benefits program. It is meant to relieve employers of their liability from lawsuits that involve negligence. In return, the employer becomes responsible for other issues that include medical costs, the wages lost for the employee and such other costs that are associated with rehabilitation. Do note that it does not matter here whether the employee was at fault or the employer.

You can ask any South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney about this law. Here, all the injured employees are entitled to receiving all necessary medical treatment in order to lessen their disability. The medical treatments would include surgeries as well as hospitalization. It will also cover medical supplies and any prosthetic devices. Other items included here will be prescriptions along with rehabilitation services.

Do note that injured employees are entitled to compensation that will be at the rate of 66 percent of their average weekly wages. This will be calculated based on their four working quarters just prior to the injury.

Insurance Fraud 

Workers’ compensation can be considered as a security net for all those who get injured while working. Hence it can be considered as a great boon to employees. But unfortunately, there are many people who are looking at the workers’ compensation system as an opportunity for them to collect a paycheck without doing any kind of work. These are people who would fake injuries on the job. Then they would commit fraud on the workers’ compensation funds. As a matter of fact, this workers’ compensation fraud is a big problem today. Hence there are investigations today into any kind of suspicious claims if they become frequent occurrences. Doing past investigations in order to detect workers’ compensation fraud would involve a lot of legwork along with hours of surveillance. These days investigation requires a lot of work online too as social media has become a valuable tool for investigators.

Social media sites are allowing individuals to share a lot of information regarding almost every aspect of their life. This information may be harmless and appear uninteresting to most people. But those who are investigating fraud claims will find every little piece of information valuable. These snippets of information are highly useful while denying claims or looking towards prosecuting someone for fraud. Do note that investigators for insurance fraud will be looking at your social media for photos showing people engaging in those activities that they should not be able to do physically. This would include going to the gym, playing sports, or engaging in some form of exercise that is not related to physical therapy. Hence it would indicate some form of fraudulent activity just to get workers’ compensation.

There may be posts or pictures or videos that depict a person lifting objects or being engaged in some activities that may be prohibited with some specific injuries. There may be some other information or statuses that indicate that a person is doing another job or is looking for employment at other places. There can be other posts to indicate that a person’s condition or injury is not really as severe as is being claimed. Hence the job of a workers’ compensation attorney has changed today. He needs to incorporate this aspect also in his work.

Fraud is morally wrong and illegal too. It can have serious financial as well as legal consequences for anyone who is found to be engaging in it. Hence social media investigations help investigators to fight insurance fraud that are related to workers’ compensation claims. But there is another aspect to it. This information found on social media can have a negative impact even on the innocent parties. This is because the information shared on the internet may not tell the whole story. There can be complications for an innocent claimant for workers’ compensation due to misunderstandings with these social media posts. Hence a status such as you are feeling better may be something entirely different for an investigator. Or else you may be tagged in old photographs and that would not be an accurate snapshot of your condition today. But it may appear to other people of having been shot now.

This is why you need to be careful while filing a workers’ compensation and try to avoid social media while you are in the process and recovering. This will not be an easy task as many of us visit social media websites a number of times each day.  Do note that the consequences for visiting and posting on your social media websites can be much worse than not keeping up with them. You may believe that your information is private and not accessible to all. Still it is better to be safe now than sorry later. Avoid sharing your medical history or anything that pertains to your insurance claim online. Let your friends know that you would not like to be included in their posts, at least for some time.

Do note that Greenville, South Carolina does not tolerate this kind of fraud in order to collect workers’ compensation and constitutes it as a serious crime. People committing insurance fraud leads to everyone’s insurance premium rising, making the entire insurance system more expensive.

In case you are planning to initiate a workers’ compensation claim, you must consult with a lawyer who is familiar with handling workers’ compensation claims. This way you would also come to know the wide range of benefits that you would be entitled to and you are not aware of. Besides, you would come to know about any immediate steps that you need to take in order to protect yourself and your claim. Hence you will be saved from the effort while you will be getting more benefits too!

The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help. Our hard-working team of work injury attorneys and professionals in Greenville are here to answer your questions and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential, and comprehensive case review with an actual attorney.

Nursing Home Neglect – a National Epidemic

There are times when your elderly loved one is living in a nursing home or even in an extended living facility. But you would always be concerned that the person may become a victim of abuse or neglect. In fact, nursing home abuse has become an American epidemic that is affecting nursing homes in all the States, including Greenville, SC. The same malady afflicts even the most expensive facilities.

In fact, we are still not aware of the full size of this problem as it is being grossly underreported today. The main reason behind this can be that elder abuse is being missed as we are not aware of how to detect abuse.

Even the elderly are reluctant to report abuse as they are afraid of some form of retaliation. Else they may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Or else they may be lacking the cognitive ability of making a report. This is why very few cases of elder abuse are brought towards the attention of authorities.

It is the older people with dementia who are at the highest risk of becoming a victim of elder abuse. Most of these are mistreated by those who have been entrusted to care for them. As the elderly population having dementia increases, so will this abuse towards them.

Elder Abuse Enhances The Risk Of Death

Do note that the elderly are highly vulnerable in all aspects including physical, emotional as well as financial. This is why when elderly adults are victims of abuse, no matter how mild it is, their risk of death becomes much higher as compared to for those who are not being abused.

Additionally, those who are victims of nursing home abuse tend to experience more health problems as compared to other adults. These would include depression, anxiety, besides high blood pressure, heart problems, as well as digestive issues, along with bone and joint problems.

This is why if you suspect that your loved one appears to be a victim of nursing home abuse, then contact a Greenville, SC personal injury attorney immediately.

Do note that these are not rare instances. There are a number of issues in nursing home facilities that include understaffing, uncompassionate care, in addition to indifference leading to shocking cases of neglect.

The government agencies that are charged with overseeing all these facilities have to do a better and a more thorough job in order to spare our elders from various kinds of unspeakable harm.

Know The Signs Of Neglect 

The senior care facilities need to comply with higher standards. Till that happens, families who are having a loved one in a nursing home must always be aware of signs of neglect or abuse there and be able to report it immediately to a Nursing Home(Neglect/Abuse) attorney. The common warning signs of nursing home abuse are given here.

  • There may be unusual bruises or some welts on skin. This can be due to the person being physically harmed.
  • Bedsores are a clear indication of the elderly not being taken good care of.
  • Open wounds or infections are a serious issue. It is important to understand the cause behind them. Infections are going to affect other members of the facility too.
  • Poor personal hygiene will become evident by the diapers not getting changed often. This can lead to foul smell besides infection in the private parts.
  • Frequent falls are a clear indication that proper care is not being taken to place a person properly in the bed or chair. Next, the person may need to go somewhere and no one is paying attention to that.
  • Any kind of usage of physical restraints must be questioned. After all, this is physically as well as emotionally trying for the elderly. If possible, it must be done away with completely. It is important to understand the reason behind its usage, such as the elderly harming himself, others, and so on.
  • Any form of sudden emotional withdrawal should raise concerns. Find out if there are medical reasons behind it or the elderly has been a victim of abuse. Other causes can be fear of someone at the facility. Also check if the medication has been changed or the person is facing some other kind of problem.
  • Sudden weight loss can be due to a number of reasons. This can be due to a loss of appetite, fear of bullying, unhappiness, or a change in medication. Hence the cause must be found out.
  • Sudden decline in health can be due to failing health, poor hygiene, bad food, improper care, emotional disturbance and so on.
  • Unusual behavior of the elderly, like rocking or sucking can be another indication that the person is going through some form of emotional disturbance. It is important to know the reason behind it.
  • Staff discouraging impromptu visits may be due to a reason like being caught. They can be prepared if they are informed well in advance. But in case of visitors dropping in unannounced, there is a high risk of being caught and hence such visits are not appreciated.
  • Missing personal items can mean theft or someone even taking them away forcibly. These can then be sold off to earn extra money. In case this is happening on a regular basis, it can be a cause of concern as it is a form of financial loss, discomfort as well as incites feeling of fear and neglect in the elderly.

Hence it is generally believed that a large number of elderly suffer from some form of neglect by their caregivers. But very few of these cases ever get reported to authorities. This abuse can be physical, emotional or even financial in nature. Do note that elder abuse is a crime. It has to be reported and stopped at all costs. This is why it is important to contact nursing home neglect lawyers if you believe that your loved ones are not receiving proper care. We deal with cases like this everyday and would love to sit down with you and see what we can do to help your loved one get the justice that they deserve. Call our experienced Greenville, SC nursing home neglect legal team at the Dan Pruitt Law Firm today at 864-280-7660! Or you can use our convenient online contact form.

Understanding How a Permanent Disability is Handled Through Workers’ Compensation

Workplace injuries can be quite serious, especially if you work in a factory, in a rail yard, at a construction site, or virtually any other industrial setting. If you or a loved one suffered a serious, debilitating injury that may never fully heal, you could be eligible for permanent disability benefits through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program. But keep in mind that not all serious injuries will automatically result in an award of permanent disability benefits. The potential benefit award depends on the type of injury, the level of disability, and other important factors.

Permanent Partial Disability

If you suffered a serious injury to a particular area of your body, but may still be able to find employment in a different field or workplace setting, you could qualify for permanent partial disability. Compensation for a permanent partial disability is generally based on the severity of your disability. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission generally reviews your medical records, affidavits from your doctors, and the impact of your partial disability on your ability to work in your chosen field; more on this issue below.

Common Permanent Partial Disability Injuries

Serious back injuries and spinal trauma are most often cited as the basis for seeking permanent partial disability benefits. This is especially true for laborers, rail workers, and other workers who haul and lift heavy objects on a daily basis. Other types of injuries that may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits, include:

  • Amputation of a limb
  • Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hearing loss
  • Knee injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Wrist and elbow injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Significant burns that can be seen from at least eight feet away
  • Vision loss

Benefits Awarded for Permanent Partial Disability

If you are awarded benefits for permanent partial disability, they will be calculated based on your percentage of disability. This percentage is determined by a doctor who will examine the body part that you claim is permanently impaired.

The Commission has assigned each body part a specific “maximum value.” This may seem somewhat arbitrary and subjective considering the value of a person’s knee varies depending on the individual’s chosen profession. Nevertheless, the most you can get is the max value.

The benefits you are awarded will be determined by the severity and location of your injury. If you are awarded permanent partial disability benefits, they will be paid out for up to 340 weeks. As you can see, these are not benefits paid out for the remainder of your life.

Permanent Total Disability

If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic, life-changing workplace injury, you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. But keep in mind, you have to meet a specific threshold to qualify for these benefits. For example, if you lost both of your hands, you would qualify for permanent total disability. Similarly, if you lost both feet, arms, or legs, in a workplace accident, you would likely qualify for permanent total disability. The same goes for losing your vision in both of your eyes. If you suffered a combination of these catastrophic injuries, you are likely to be deemed totally and permanently disabled.

Being considered permanently and totally disabled means you will receive additional financial benefits based your average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks.

Compensation Calculation for Permanent Injury

As mentioned, you will be compensated primarily on the severity of your disability. The severity receives a rating score. A minimal disability would be rated at 10 percent while a severe disability might be rated at 75 percent. Another main factor is your average weekly wage rate.

The Commission generally awards only 66 ⅔ percent of your average weekly wages. You may be asking yourself, “How is the severity of my disability determined?” See below.

Impairment Ratings – You Have Rights

If you are claiming a permanent injury like a lost limb, vision loss, nerve damage, etc. then you will be likely be rated by a physician. This is known as your “impairment rating.” Here is the rub – your employer can select the doctor who assigns your impairment rating. As you may expect, a doctor hired by your employer may be less inclined to give your disability a higher impairment rating.

Remember, if you disagree with the doctor’s assessment, you have rights.

Many employees wrongly believe they have to accept what their employer’s physician says and fail to seek a second medical opinion. This is a big mistake. If you have a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer handling your case, they should be able to schedule an independent medical examination so a third-party specialist can review the severity of your injury and provide their own impairment rating. This is critically important if you are trying to get the maximum benefits available.

Conference to Discuss Your Benefits

If you or a loved one suffered a permanent disability, you will likely be asked to attend an “informal conference.” This conference will also be attended by the insurance company for your employer and a commissioner or claims mediator. This conference is meant to determine the total amount of benefits you will be awarded for your permanent disability.

If you do not agree with the benefit total discussed during the informal conference, you do not have to sign the settlement agreement. If you do not sign, a hearing will be scheduled before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Do Not Take On The Insurance Company Alone – Contact an Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If a hearing is scheduled with the Commission, it will likely be held a few months after the informal conference. Getting the advice of a dedicated South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney is incredibly important. You want the maximum benefits available under the law. The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help. Our team of attorneys and professionals are here to answer your questions and help you understand your legal rights. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential, and comprehensive case review with an actual attorney.

Fatal Hit and Run in Greenville

Hit and run accidents are a big problem in the U.S., reaching what health experts called epidemic levels in 2013. These types of accidents are especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, who are most often the victims. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2011 there was a 13.7 percent increase in the number of hit-and-run fatalities and one in five pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-runs. The issue is also a plague in South Carolina where hit and runs are still on the increase.

 

What Constitutes a Hit-And-Run

 

If you are in any type of motor vehicle accident, with another vehicle, pedestrian, or fixed object, it is the law to stop and pull over to identify yourself as well as to render assistance if needed. Any driver who disregards this law and continues on their way has committed a hit-and-run. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, it is still considered a hit-and-run if you leave the scene of the accident without stopping.

 

Accidents In South Carolina

 

For the South Carolina Highway Patrol, hit-and-runs are almost a daily occurrence. In fact, in just the period of a year, between 2014 and 2015, there was a 15 percent increase. Drivers in hit and runs have already claimed the lives of several pedestrians across South Carolina. There was the incident of 14-year-old Grace Sulek who was on her way home from a track and field meet; there were Deandre Richardson, 16, and Leonardo Suarez-Perez, 15, who were struck by a Jeep Wrangler as they rode their skateboards; and the 41-year-old Zachary Smith who died in the hospital after being thrown from his motorcycle which was struck by an SUV; and the list could go on.

 

One of the most troubling aspects of these types of accidents is that the perpetrators are hardly ever caught. It is extremely difficult for law enforcement to find the drivers, even with witnesses available to give testimony.

 

South Carolina Penalties for Hit-And-Run

 

In most states, including South Carolina, being the perpetrator of a hit-and-run has numerous consequences if you’re caught and convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, such as whether it was simply property damage or injuries were sustained, the penalties will vary.

 

If the accident involved a minor injury, the crime is considered a misdemeanor and the convicted driver will have their driver’s licence revoked, have to pay a fine of up to $5,000, and/or be given a prison sentence ranging from 30 days to one year. In addition to the revocation of their driver’s license, if there is a serious injury or death, the hit-and-run driver will be charged with a felony. The fine in cases of serious injury is $5,000-$10,000 and up to 10 years in prison while cases with fatalities are $10,000-$25,000 and one to 25 years in prison. When only property damage is part of the case, the hit-and-run driver can be charged with a misdemeanor, fined $500-$1,000, and/or possibly a prison term of no more than one year.

 

Although the steep penalties for hit-and-run accidents are far worse than simply following the law by staying on the scene, many choose to leave. Unfortunately, when this happens, the victims, who have often already lost so much, can be stuck with expensive medical bills, long-term injuries, or worse.

 

Civil Action

 

In addition to the criminal penalties associated with hit-and-run accidents, a convicted driver could also be sued for damages associated with the accident. These types of lawsuits are meant to provide monetary compensation for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. It is similar to what the driver would face even if they stayed on the scene if they were at fault for the accident. Of course, being charged with a misdemeanor or felony for a hit-and-run will likely lead the court to impose higher amounts to punish to person. Meaning if, under normal circumstances, they would have awarded the plaintiff $5,000, they might triple the amount to $15,000.

 

What to Do If You Are the Victim

 

Unfortunately, most hit-and-run cases to not end with the victim or their family receiving the justice they deserve. In the event that you’re in an accident with another motorist who choose to flee the scene, do your best to:

 

  • If possible, get their license plate number or a description of their vehicle;
  • Contact law enforcement and report the incident, providing any relevant information you can give;
  • File and accident report with the police which includes any witnesses available; and
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.

 

As with any accident, if you are able, take pictures of the accident scene and get statements from witnesses. You should get names, addresses, and contact information from anyone who saw what happened.

 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

 

In South Carolina, although drivers are required to have auto insurance, they are not required to have uninsured motorist coverage. This type of additional insurance should be offered by your insurance company and is meant to cover you in the event you are in an accident that was caused by an uninsured driver. Your own insurance would then pay for any injuries or property damage the uninsured was unable to. Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in similarly for accidents with hit-and-run drivers.

 

To recover damages for the accident with a hit-and run driver, you would file a claim with your own insurance company. In order to settle successfully you would need to have reported the accident to the police in a timely manner and prove that the injury and/or property damage was caused by another vehicle (as confirmed by a witness other than the driver) and that the driver was not acting negligently to cause the accident themselves.

 

Contact an Attorney for Help

 

Hit-and-run accidents are some of the most devastating you can ever be involved in. Regardless of the type of car accident you have been in, you need an experienced Greenville car accident attorney fighting for your rights. Contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to find out more about filing a car accident claim. We’ll help you with any questions you have and ensure you get the most out of your settlement.

OSHA Addressing Extreme Heat Hazard in Workplaces

Make no mistake, it is hot outside in South Carolina. While for many of this means putting on our bathing suits and going for a swim or hiding in air conditioned buildings, it means grueling days for any workers who do their jobs outside. When the sun beats and the temperatures soar, it’s crucial to stay safe from the heat. That’s why the during the summer weather, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pushes safety training and preventative measures to reduce heat related illnesses.

 

Heat Illnesses

 

Although there are a variety of different heat related illnesses, they are all generally brought on by extended exposure to excessive heat and humidity without rest or enough fluid intake. The human body is constantly working to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6 degrees. When outside temperatures reach this level or go beyond, it becomes extremely taxing for the body to maintain its normal temperature. If the cooling mechanisms fail, a person’s body stores the heat, causing their temperature to rise and heart rate to increase.

 

Workers spending a large percentage of their time working outside can develop any of the following heat-related illnesses:

 

 

  • Heat Stroke – A worker who faints or feels confused, is sweating profusely, has seizures, and an an elevated temperature, may be suffering from heat stroke. It is the most serious of heat related illnesses and without emergency treatment, heat stroke can lead to permanent disabilities or death.  

 

 

 

  • Heat Exhaustion – Workers with high blood pressure and the elderly are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion, a condition due to a lack of water and salt, usually brought on by sweating. Symptoms to watch out for include dizziness, nausea, headache, heavy sweating, thirst, and body temperatures over 100.4 degrees. If someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, they should be taken out of the heat, given liquids, and have a medical evaluation.

 

 

 

  • Heat Cramps – A loss of fluids from sweat may also lead to heat cramps are less serious and can be treated by replenishing fluids. Drink water, or sports drinks, every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid heat cramps. Cramps are also a symptom of heat exhaustion.

 

 

 

  • Heat rash – Heat rash, sometimes called prickly heat and miliaria, can happen to workers if their pores (sweat ducts) trap perspiration under the skin. When this happens, the skin may feel prickly or itchy and blisters or red lumps may from. Typically, the condition clears on its own and the best way to treat it is cooling the skin down.

 

 

Preventative Measures Encouraged By OSHA

 

Although all heat-related illnesses and fatality cases are 100 percent preventable, there were still 2,630 workers who suffered from heat illness and 18 fatalities from heat stroke in 2014. This is why OSHA is concentrating its efforts on preventing heat illness through education and placing calling on employers to take responsibility for protecting workers. Any employers who expose their employees to high temperatures should have a heat illness prevention program incorporating the following:

 

  • Adequate water, rest, and shade;
  • Slowly increasing workloads for new or returning employees by offering more frequent breaks as they build up their tolerance to working in the heat;
  • Educating workers to recognize the signs of heat illness, how to treat them, and especially how to prevent them;
  • Have a plan in case of emergency; and
  • Monitor workers to ensure they are taking appropriate preventative measures.

 

Workers, of course, must also take the initiative to prevent any heat related illnesses or fatalities. If you are working outside in the heat, remember to:

 

  • Drink water approximately every 15 minutes, regardless of whether or not you are thirsty;
  • Periodically take breaks in a shaded area to cool down;
  • If possible, wear light-colored clothing and a hat;
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat illnesses and how to handle an emergency;
  • Help monitor coworkers; and
  • Remember that it is important to acclimatize yourself to work – don’t push yourself too hard in hot weather until you’ve done the job for a while.

 

If any worker shows signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, it’s important to get help by contacting a supervisor while someone stays with the victim.

 

South Carolina Workers Most at Risk

 

Because temperatures in South Carolina can be grueling, especially during the summer months, any worker who is out in hot and humid conditions could be affected, including construction and road crews, agricultural workers, landscapers, and many others. Workers who are new to being in hot environments are more at risk, with roughly 80 percent of cases happening to workers who had spent less than a week on the job.

 

Understanding the Heat Index

 

Rather than just using temperature as an indicator, assessing the risk for heat-related illnesses is better done using the heat index. The heat index is a measurement which takes into account both temperature and humidity, making it a more accurate predictor of risks brought on by environmental heat sources. It’s critical to factor relative humidity in with the temperature because sweat won’t evaporate as quickly in humid places as it would dry ones. This effectively means our cooling mechanisms are weakened when it is very humid, making us feel hotter. Of course, low humidity can potentially cause problems as well, if, for instance, it is so dry that rapidly evaporating sweat leaves a worker dehydrated.

 

When calculating the heat index, employers should also keep in mind that if workers are facing certain conditions, the heat index may need to be adjusted. Working in direct sunlight, for example, adds as much as 15 degrees to the head index. In addition, prolonged or strenuous work and wearing heavy protective clothing or impermeable uniforms can also increase the heat index.

 

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer In Greenville

If you have been injured at work and are ready to file a workers’ compensation claim, you need someone on your side to fight for your rights. Call the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm to consult with a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenville who has extensive experience and success handling claims. For any questions regarding injuries and workers’ compensation in Greenville, South Carolina, contact us today.

Factors Leading to Accidents

A familiar view when driving behind a large truck on the highway is the sticker “How is my driving?” with a number to call with compliments or concerns. Most of the time, the driver of the truck is doing a fine job and there is no reason to call the number unless they did something exceptional or unacceptable, such as changing lanes into another car. But even though most truck drivers do a “fine job”, if you or your loved one have been in an accident with one of these large vehicles, you know the devastation it can cause. While these drivers are subject to many more regulations than a normal car driver would be, they also have to deal with many more problems, including mechanical malfunctions, which could lead to an accident.

 

A factor that could lead to an increased risk of danger for other cars driving near commercial vehicles is how tired the truck driver is. Even though federal regulations limit the amount of time that a truck driver can drive during an 8-day period, drivers are still expected to reach certain distances in an allotted amount of time. This would cause even truck drivers that are experienced and normally safe to become stressed out and exhausted. Truck drivers are paid by the amount of miles that they drive, not how long they have been driving, so there is a lot of pressure to keep pushing on, even when they are tired, which can increase the likelihood that they either fall asleep at the wheel or are more reckless than they normally would be.

 

Trucking companies are responsible for the maintenance of the trucks that their drivers use to carry cargo and passengers around the country. When a truck driver gets in a truck to drive, they assume that all maintenance checks have been made and appropriately taken care of, and may have no idea that the brakes aren’t functioning properly or that the tire pressure is low. It is important for companies to perform routine checks on their vehicles and to document all problems that are noted and when they were fixed. If a truck driver is safely driving down the highway and there is a wreck in front of them, they should be able to trust their brakes to stop them from running into anyone and causing more damage.

 

Finally, a truck driver could be doing any sort of unsafe activity – texting and driving, drinking and driving, not checking before they change lanes – that would normally cause an accident in a car, but it makes it more dangerous because of the type of vehicle they are driving. It is an enormous amount of responsibility to be driving that large of a truck, and any sort of activity by the truck driver that is not completely focused on the road can end in tragedy. The drivers of any vehicle of this size, and any size, are aware of the hazards of distracted driving and should follow all federal and state regulations to ensure safety for everyone on the road.
If you have been in an accident with a commercial vehicle and you don’t know where to turn, please call the dedicated auto accident lawyers in Greenville at the Dan Pruitt Law Firm at 8642324273 today so that we can help you put the pieces together. You deserve justice, no matter whether it was the truck driver or the trucking company that was at fault, and we have years of experience with motor vehicle law and we are confident that we can help you during this difficult time.

Commercial Vehicle Licensing

If you or your loved one has been in an accident with any kind of commercial vehicle, be it an 18-wheeler or a semi, you know the kind of serious damage that a vehicle of that size can cause. Big trucks can be a very real hazard and it is important to understand the safety regulations that they are required to follow in order for you to make sure that you get the justice that you deserve. There are federal and state regulations, with the federal regulations mostly being listed in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. There are many parts to these regulations, one of them being about the type of license that the truck driver has to have in order to drive a commercial vehicle legally.

 

The regulation that speaks to the licensure of truck drivers is Part 383: Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The purpose of this regulation is to help lower the frequency and even prevent accidents, fatalities, and injuries involving a truck or bus. It requires the drivers of these vehicles to have a single commercial motor vehicle driver’s license and disqualifies drivers who operate commercial vehicles unsafely. This is important because a truck driver must have a different type of license than someone who drives a smaller type of vehicle because of the size of the machine that they are operating and its’ hazards.

 

Part 383 prohibits a driver from having more than one commercial motor vehicle driver’s license so that if someone operates a truck unsafely, they can no longer operate trucks instead of using another license from a different state. This part requires that drivers notify their current employer and their home state of certain convictions and that they provide previous employment information when applying for employment as an operator of a commercial motor vehicle. The employer should research the person they are about to hire to make sure that they can safely do their job and do not have a history of accidents. Employers are not allowed to let someone who has a suspended license operate a truck even if they are understaffed because unsafe drivers should not be on the road regardless of what a company needs.

 

There is an established period of disqualification and penalties for the people convicted of criminal or other serious traffic violations to ensure that they will not act unsafely again because they were allowed to return too soon to driving. There are also established (both knowledge and skill) tests and licensing requirements that truck drivers have to pass/meet in order to operate a commercial vehicle. It is important for someone who is driving a truck that large to understand exactly how it operates and about the mechanics of it, should something go wrong. These tests are regulated federally so that they are accepted in every state that the driver may pass through.

 

It is important to get the licensing information from the driver of the commercial vehicle that you are in an accident with in case any of these parts of the regulation have been violated. Violation of this regulation could turn a small car accident case into a neglect case that is taken very seriously under federal law. If you were in an accident with a truck and sustained a serious injury or you don’t know what to do, let our skilled Greenville, SC auto accident attorneys work alongside you and help you through this process. At Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm, we deal with cases like these everyday and want you to know that we will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 864-232-4273!

Avoiding Car Accidents In Road Construction Zones

Road construction zones are a dreaded, yet inevitable part of any commuters day in all cities. Most of us think of the grumble as we creep through these zones, which almost always translate into extra traffic and added time to reach our next destination. What many of us forget is work zones can be much more than just an additional nuisance to our daily drives, they can be very dangerous, providing new and unexpected hazards. Work zone accidents affect both drivers and workers on the road. In fact, from 2009-2014 the Federal Highway Administration reported 200,000 people were injured and 4,400 people died in road construction crashes. Of the fatalities, 85 percent were drivers or passengers and drivers are the most frequent fatality in any work zone crash.

 

Additional Hazards Of Work Zones

 

Driving comes with many inherent dangers, including other motorists, distractions, and road and weather conditions. These driving conditions are multiplied when going through work zones and drivers should exercise even more caution than normal. Although there are many laws in place regarding road construction safety, individual construction crews can make mistakes that make the work zone even more dangerous. Some hazards drivers should be aware of in road construction zones include:

 

 

  • The possibility of improper signage – For drivers to navigate road construction zones safely, it is crucial that work crews provide appropriate cones and signs. Federal and state regulations dictate how much and what type of signage should be used. Many construction companies and crews, however, fail to utilize proper warning signs, meaning there’s a greater risk for both motorists and workers to sustain injuries.

 

 

 

  • Machinery and equipment hazards – Road construction requires the use of heavy machinery and other equipment. It is possible for machinery to malfunction, for construction crews to be careless about where machinery is left in the road, or fail to clean-up equipment properly.

 

 

 

  • Difficult turns – The amount of time a motorist needs to safely make a turn varies according to the speed and weight of their vehicle. Sometimes road construction sites fail to take in these factors and create a turn that is sharper than most vehicles are able to handle.  

 

 

 

  • Construction dirt and debris – Road work may leave roads uneven and full of dirt and debris. These hazards can cause additional problems for motorists, especially if construction crews fail to post appropriate signage warning drivers of the additional hazards.

 

 

Accidents In Road Construction Zones

 

Road construction accidents happen most frequently during daytime hours and several factors contribute to their occurrence. A majority of work zone crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is 55 mph or greater and crash frequency is highest in the summer and autumn. Both drivers and construction crews cause accidents. Vehicle collisions, including rear-end crashes, are especially common. Motorists cause accidents in work zones through negligent behaviors including:

 

  • Speeding;
  • Failing to follow signs or obey construction workers directing traffic;
  • Distracted driving (eating, using cell phone, etc.);
  • Improper passing; and
  • Driving impaired.

 

In addition to failing to provide proper signage and leaving equipment and tools in the roadway, construction crews can also cause accidents by improperly directing traffic and dropping materials onto traffic. South Carolina, like most other states, has increased penalties for speeding in work zones to help reduce the number of accidents.

 

Safety Tips For Avoiding Accidents In Work Zones

 

While drivers have no control over the hazards created by road work zones or the negligence of construction zone workers, they can help avoid and prevent accidents by taking precautionary steps. Drivers can help promote safety and minimize stress when going through work zones by taking the following steps as they enter a work zone:

 

 

  • Expect the unexpected – Sudden situational changes are common in work zones. Be aware when entering a work zone that traffic could slow or stop suddenly, equipment or workers may enter the roadway, or traffic lanes merge.

 

 

 

  • Reduce your speed – Regardless of whether or not you see any work taking place, it is important that you slow down and follow the posted speed limit. Speeding contributes to or causes as many as 30 percent of work zone accidents.

 

 

 

  • Obey road crews – Any signs or traffic direction maintained by crews in a road work zone are meant to keep both drivers and workers safe. Following these signs will help you and other safely through the work zone.

 

 

 

  • Maintain a safe following distance – Rear-end collisions account for 30 percent of accidents in work zones. Not only should you have a safe distance between you and other vehicles, but also any construction workers or equipment.

 

 

 

  • Avoid distractions – Many drivers admit to using cell phones, eating, putting on makeup, and many other distracting behaviors. Staying focused on the road is even more important than usual while going through a construction zone.

 

 

 

  • Merge into the correct lane – Give yourself plenty of time to merge into the correct lane before any lane closures. Even if you drive through the same construction zone daily, be aware that traffic patterns can change daily.

 

 

 

  • Change lanes safely – You should only change lanes in places where pavement markings indicate it is okay to do so and when traffic conditions permit it.

 

 

 

  • Be patient – Remember, work zones are stressful for everyone. It’s better to be patient and follow directions than try to cruise through a work zone unsafely.

 

 

The best way to avoid road work zone accidents, of course, is to avoid going through work zones altogether. If you know there will be road construction on your normal route, plan ahead and take an alternate route to your destination.

 

Car Accident Attorney in Greenville

 

Being in any car accident, including those in road work zones, can be very overwhelming. Many people are unsure of their next steps after an accident. If you’re a Greenville driver who has been in an accident, you may be able to collect compensation for any injuries you’ve sustained. Contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina for a consultation with an experienced Greenville car accident attorney. We can clear up any questions you have regarding your case and help you get closure for your accident.

The Dangers of Overexertion in the Workplace

Every year millions of workers are injured while performing their jobs and, according to the National Safety Council, the leading cause of these injuries is physical overexertion. Alone, work injuries caused by overexertion cost the country $15.1 billion in workers’ compensation costs. Furthermore, overexertion injuries were the second leading cause of missed days at work for American workers. Here’s what South Carolina workers need to know about overexertion injuries on the job and how they can avoid them.

 

Defining Overexertion Injuries

 

An overexertion injury can be sustained when a load exceeds the limits of the person doing the work. They may stretch or tear a person’s ligaments, tendons, and muscles, leading to sprains and strains of various body parts, including the neck, shoulders, knees, and wrists. These types of injuries occur from either repetitive motion or acute causes, including lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling heavy objects or doing work in an awkward position. The pain associated with overexertion injuries can be acute, but should lessen after appropriate medical care and rest.

 

Individuals may be at greater risk for overexertion injuries if they are in poor physical condition or overweight. Additionally, aging and loss of flexibility may also increase a person’s risk of sustaining an overexertion injury.

 

Symptoms of Overexertion

 

It is important to recognize if you or another worker is overexerting themselves. Some signs and symptoms of overexertion in the workplace include:

 

 

  • Losing your breath or failure to talk – A person who is overexerting themselves physically will generally be short of breath and unable to speak. While performing work-related tasks, such as lifting, workers should be sure they are not breathing to hard. Take a few moments to pause from the task and relax if you are having trouble breathing.

 

 

 

  • Feeling dehydrated – A worker who is overexerting themselves will usually feel dehydrated. Dizziness, dry mouth, scant urine, fatigue, and muscle cramps are all signs of dehydration.

 

 

 

  • Fatigue and muscle/joint aches – Overexertion can lead to a variety of chronic injuries, including stress fractures and tendinitis. Soreness and aching in joints or muscles are precursors to most overexertion injuries and it’s important to discontinue the activity at least temporarily if you are noticing pain.

 

 

Treating an Overexertion Injury

 

If you think you have sustained an overexertion injury at work, it’s important that you report the injury to your employer so you can take the appropriate steps to recover. Depending on the severity of your overexertion injury, you can relieve the condition and symptoms in several ways, including:

 

 

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs – doctors may advise workers with overexertion injuries to take drugs, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen, to reduce inflammation of the injury.

 

 

 

  • Heat treatments – Applying heat is a good way to reduce the pain from overexertion injuries to the muscles and joints. Taking a warm water bath with Epsom salt can relieve pain and help you relax.

 

 

 

  • Rest – Regardless of the type of overexertion injury sustained, the most reliable and important treatment is rest. Depending on the severity of the strain or sprain a worker may have to rest anywhere from a few days to several weeks. A sprained ankle, for instance, may require crutches and up to six weeks of rest.

 

 

Preventing Workplace Overexertion

 

Preventing overexertion injuries in the workplace is the responsibility of both employers and workers. A majority of overexertion injuries and accidents are the result of unsafe practices by people themselves as opposed to many other workplace injuries that can be blamed partially on machinery or equipment. For any jobs that involve lifting or handling heavy objects, employers should ensure their employees are properly trained to use the correct body mechanics for lifting, pushing, and pulling tasks.

 

Workers can avoid overexertion injuries by:

 

 

  • Understanding your limits – Probably the most crucial factor for preventing overexertion injuries at work or home is knowing your own limits. When doing any job duty, the worker should pay attention to their own body and be aware if the task is leading to any muscle soreness, cramping, fatigue, or pain and these all indicate overexertion.

 

 

 

  • Using proper body mechanics and good posture – Using proper technique in activities such as lifting is very important for protecting muscles, joints, and ligaments against overuse. Poor form and posture are common causes of injury, including overexertion of the neck or back.

 

 

 

  • Taking breaks – Workers performing physically strenuous tasks should be sure to take adequate breaks to prevent overexertion. The most effective breaks involve rest, stretching the muscles, and rehydrating to prevent fluid loss. Warning signs of exertion that may require immediate medical assistance include dizziness, rapid pulse and irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and profuse sweating.

 

 

 

  • Getting assistance for tasks that are too difficult – When a work task calls for lifting, pushing, carrying, or pulling any heavy object, a worker should ask for help if they are unable to handle the load themselves. If another person is unable to assist, using equipment to help move the object is best.

 

 

Compensation Available for Overexertion Injuries

 

Overexertion injuries are the most common workplace injuries and most South Carolina workers qualify for workers’ compensation if they sustain such an injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, a worker be eligible for compensation for medical expenses related to the injury and for any time away from work. In order to receive any of the benefits, a worker must report the injury to their employer and file a workers’ compensation claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.

 

Talk to a Greenville Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Being injured at work can be difficult, especially if you must take time off of work while medical bills accumulate. While workers’ compensation is available for overexertion injuries and other work-related accidents to most South Carolina workers, the workers’ compensation claim process can be difficult to navigate. If you are an injured worker and aren’t sure of your rights, it’s important to contact a qualified Greenville, SC workers’ compensation attorney. For years, the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm has been helping injured workers secure the compensation they deserve for their injuries in Greenville, South Carolina. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Uber Accidents & Insurance Liability

Uber accidents Greenville SCServices like Uber and Lyft are becoming more common, and deciding who must pay for injuries in Uber accidents is the toughest part. Is the Uber/Lyft driver at fault? Or is Uber/Lyft liable, instead of the driver? Would insurance of the company itself be paying, or the driver’s? What if the taxi driver was not on work time when the accident occurred.

Uber Accidents Liability: Who is At-Fault

The party at fault in rideshare vehicles as well as all other automobiles is determined by an investigation to find who acted negligently. If another vehicle hits the taxi/rideshare while you are a riding as a passenger, the insurance of the other driver would be liable for paying for your injuries.

But what if you are a passenger in a vehicle that has an accident and it was your driver’s fault? Then who would have to pay?

Uber & Lyft Insurance

In Uber/Lyft rideshare services, the driver uses his or her own automobile. And so, according to the law, drivers are required to obtain personal vehicle insurance up to legal limits. If a driver has an accident while not working, their insurance would be the one to cover the cost of damages.

But, taxi companies are responsible for giving insurance to their drivers too. An example would be if the Uber/Lyft driver is on duty at the time of an accident then he or she would be covered by the employer’s insurance. This is also true for taxi drivers: the taxi company would provide insurance coverage to pay for the passenger and driver’s injuries while on the clock.

Some courts have found that Uber/Lyft drivers should be considered employees, even though they’re more often considered to be independent contractors. And so, under the theory of vicarious liability, the company of the rideshare driver may be held liable should you decide to take legal action against a driver.

To receive the maximum amount of damages back after being involved in an accident as an Uber/Lyft driver or passenger, you should contact an attorney to work for you.

For more questions such as why you should have an attorney after an accident, how much your claim might be worth, filing a claim, and more, contact an experienced attorney today.