Before states passed laws to protect industrially injured employees, workers’ compensation began on a national level. The industrial revolution had spread from England to the United States in the post-civil war Reconstruction era, introducing an array of new machinery into the economy. With its size, fast-moving parts, and lack of modern safety mechanisms and practices, the machinery caused many gruesome accidents and even deaths at the workplace. When these tragedies occurred, families were often devastated financially when an income-providing member could no longer work. Thankfully, in the Progressive Era of the early-20th century, President Roosevelt and others called for reforms to protect America’s workforce. The first step was the Federal Employees Liability Act, which provided government workers with medical and disability benefits in the event of a work-related injury or illness. Then, one by one, the states caught on.
Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina
In South Carolina workers’ compensation history, an initial hurdle was an adherence by the state to a common law burden of proof principle. Under the common law, which is traced back to England, for an employer to be held responsible for the injury or death of an employee, the party bringing suit had to prove that the injury or death was due to negligence on the employer’s part. Negligence is a breach of a duty of care owed by one party to another that results in damages. In the workers’ compensation context, an employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace with adequate safety procedures and training.
The reason the application of the common law burden of proof was problematic is because it made the compensation process unduly slow, expensive, and uncertain for South Carolina’s workers. The financial aspect was especially troublesome, burdening injured workers with legal fees at a time when they were unable to work and earn income. Thankfully, the state realized the flaws of the early system and replaced the common law burden of proof model with a new “no-fault” system. Under the no-fault system, the law holds that an employer should bear the costs of disabilities, medical costs, and lost wages arising from industrial accidents without regard to fault involved. Thus, employees no longer have the burden of proof to establish employer negligence. The employers, in exchange for bearing the cost of disabilities, medical costs, and lost wages are relieved from liability imposed by jury awards in common law negligence suits.
What To Do If You Have Been Injured In A Workplace Accident in South Carolina
Have you been injured while on the job in South Carolina? The state’s workers’ compensation system has been in place for nearly 80 years, and can prove complex. To ensure that you take the appropriate steps to receive the maximum compensation you need and deserve for your health and financial future, contact an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. A skilled attorney will make sure all claim deadlines are met, and ensure that the full extent of your workplace injuries are communicated to your physician and to your employer’s insurance carrier.