Archive for March, 2020

South Carolina Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation

Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim if I Get the Coronavirus?

Section 42-1-160 of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act defines an injury in South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law. An “injury” means only an injury arising out of and in the scope of employment and shall not include a disease in any form, except when it results naturally and unavoidably from the accident. Diseases are further defined by Section 42-11-10 of the Act.

In short, the South Carolina State Legislature did not intend for community diseases such as the flu, colds and potentially the Coronaviris (COVID-19) to be deemed work related (compensable) under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Diseases

While the COVID-19 / Coronavirus is potentially a disease, it is not likely that it is considered a disease within the definitions of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 42-11-10 addresses “Occupational Disease” which means a disease arising out of an in the course of employment that is due to the hazarsd in excess of those ordinarily incidnet to employment and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged.

In other words the disease must be specific to the type of job and be because of that job. Most occupational disease claims are with employment types where the employee is around chemicals, fumes, silica, asbestos and specific chemicals or substances that are because of the job in which they are employed. It is unlikely that the intent was to compensate an employee for community based illness or disease like the Coronavirus / COVID-19 as that would give rise to flu claims, cold, an other illness. In addition, the Coronavirus is not peculiar to employment. You can contract this anywhere thus the reason the government has discouraged gatherings of greater than 100 people. It is not something you get just at your employer like if you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and nowhere else.

What Do I Do About Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Employers seem to appreciate communication from the employees. If you are scared of contracting the illness and spreading it on then bring it to the attention of your employer. Depending on the type of employment that employer may be able to modify your job duties to alleviate some of your fears. You may be permitted to work from home. A face mask may be provided. Direct contact with other personnel may be limited. You may also ask you employer if you have access to any paid time off through vacation, personal time, or through the Family Medical Leave Act that might cover you if you decide not to come to work. At the end of they day, you must do what is best for you but with every choice there can be ramifications including, but not limited to, unpaid time off, reprimands and/or termination.

Disclaimer

The Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 presents novel legal challenges. The reality is that this is very new and everyone is still trying to figure it all out. Given that newness of these issues, this blog is for informational purposes only, is not intended to be relied upon and does not constitute legal advice. For advice specific to your situation you should contact a lawyer.

Car Accidents In Bad Weather: Who’s At Fault?

As anyone who has lived for any amount of time in South Carolina knows, the state has its share of bad weather. Hurricanes, thunderstorms, fog, tornadoes, flooding, and even the occasional snow and ice. Any of these severe weather conditions can wreak havoc with driving conditions, especially in areas around cities with a high traffic density and drivers who may be speeding and driving recklessly during rush hour. Conditions like these not only decrease driver and vehicle visibility and test the nerves and skills of the operator, they also affect safe vehicle performance. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, over 1.3 million car wrecks in America were caused by bad weather over a ten-year period. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you may be eligible for a significant monetary award for medical bills, time off of work, pain and suffering, disability, and more. It’s vital that you retain the services of a qualified and experienced South Carolina car accident attorney to protect your rights.

Proving Negligence In An Accident

To receive compensation for an injury in an automobile wreck, you must be able to show that negligence on the part of some other party caused the accident. That could be another driver or the agency responsible for maintaining the road. When an accident occurs during bad weather conditions, it can be hard to prove that anyone was negligent other than nature. That’s why you need the services of a car accident attorney. Your lawyer will investigate the weather conditions at the time of the accident, and if another driver was involved, they’ll investigate whether they were at fault because they were speeding, driving recklessly, or driving inappropriately for the conditions. They’ll also determine if the condition of their vehicle could have been a factor, such as bad tires or windshield wipers. Every driver has a legal responsibility to operate their car in a safe manner and to make sure that it’s in safe operating condition. If they fail to take reasonable precautions against causing an accident, they and/or their insurance company could be liable for damages.

Negligent Road Maintenance

It’s not always other drivers or their vehicles that can be responsible for accidents. Especially during inclement weather, negligent road and highway conditions can easily cause an accident. Things like missing guardrails that should have been replaced in a timely manner, potholes that should have reasonably been filled, and unmarked areas of construction can be shown to be responsible for your accident. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to investigate these things to determine the liability of the governing authorities.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in South Carolina, you need to retain the services of a qualified attorney who is experienced with similar cases in the state to protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Ryan Montgomery can help. Contact him as soon as possible for a free and confidential consultation.

Injured by a Faulty Product? Here Is What You Need to Know

If you have been injured due to a faulty product, you may be entitled to compensation through a product liability claim. You may also be able to bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit if you have lost a loved one due to a faulty product.

To help you understand the process, here is a look at the essentials of product liability claims in South Carolina:

Elements in a Product Liability Case

Product liability cases fall under the realm of personal injury law. To bring forward a claim, you cannot just prove that the product was dangerous. You also have to establish that you suffered damages as a result of the product, and that your damages arose from the manufacturer’s negligence.

Damages can include direct costs such as medical expenses incurred for your injury or lost wages, but they can also include indirect costs such as pain and suffering.

Types of Product Liability Claims

Product liability claims fall into three distinct categories:

Examples of Product Liability Issues

To help you understand the different types of product liability claims, imagine that your child was injured due to a toy. If the toy featured small detachable elements that caused your child to choke, that issue may fall under defective design. In contrast, if the toy wasn’t designed that way but a manufacturing issue caused those parts to become detached, the case may be related to defective manufacture.

Finally, if the toy did not have a label to keep it away from children under three, your case may be due to failure to warn.

Importance of a Quality Product Liability Lawyer

Product liability cases can be tricky to argue, and you need an attorney experienced with these types of claims. Ideally, as most product liability claims fall under federal jurisdiction, you need an attorney well versed in both South Carolina and federal law.

For example, the rules related to the admissibility of expert testimony can vary in different jurisdictions. In 2017, this issue came up in the case of Green v. The Bradley Company and HMU, LLC. Ultimately, the courts decided that because the case was in federal jurisdiction, the defendant could not exclude evidence presented by the expert witness.

If the case had been in South Carolina jurisdiction, that same testimony may not have been allowed, ultimately changing the course of the case. When bringing forward this type of claim, you need an attorney who understands these nuances and has the experience to help you.

Statute of Limitations

In South Carolina, product liability cases have a three year statute of limitations. You must bring forward a case within three years after suffering an injury or after the death of a loved one. However, you can also bring forward cases related to breach of warranty and that has a six year statute of limitations.

To learn more about product liability claims, contact us to set up a free case evaluation today. At Ryan Montgomery LLC, we work hard to get the best possible outcomes for our clients.