Workers’ Compensation for an Employee Who Suffers a Burn Injury

Charleston Workplace Burn Injury Lawyer

Fires or explosions can result in serious burn injuries, sometimes fatal, to employees. Burn injuries can cause serious pain, require several skin grafts, and leave scars or disfigurement. Whether the burn injury results from a fire or contact with a hot substance or object, the injured employee should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employer.

Statistics for Work-Related Injuries

Private employers reported approximately 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2017, 5,147 workers suffered fatal injuries in the United States. Fires or explosions accounted for 123 deaths. According to the American Burn Association, between 2001 and 2015, Emergency Departments saw approximately 486,000 fire or burn injuries. While most burn injuries treated in burn centers took place in the home (73 percent), eight percent occurred at work.

Workers Who Are at Risk of Burn Injuries

Employees in some occupations are more at risk for burn injuries:

  • Firefighters and emergency medical technicians
  • Electricians
  • Construction workers
  • Mechanics
  • Cooks and other kitchen employees
  • Health care workers

Types of Work-Related Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can render an employee unable to work and can be fatal. Employees can suffer three main types of burns:

  • Thermal burns: Thermal burns occur when an employee is exposed to a heat source, such as liquids, open flames, hot objects, explosions and sun exposure.
  • Electrical burns: Electrical burns travel through the body, damaging tissue. Electrocutions often result in a worker’s death.
  • Chemical burns: Chemical burns can occur when an employee comes in contact with a chemical substance, such as sulfuric acid.

Burn injuries are classified by their severity:

  • First degree: First-degree burns only affect the top layer of the skin.
  • Second degree: Second-degree burns can cause the skin to blister or become red and sore.
  • Third degree: Third-degree burns penetrate the epidermis and dermis of the skin and can destroy tissue.
  • Fourth degree: Fourth-degree burns affect all layers of the skin and can damage muscles, tendons and bone.

Causes of Burn Injuries at Work

What can cause a burn injury to a worker?

  • Fires
  • Electricity
  • Hot steam or liquid
  • Contact with a hot object
  • Contact with a toxic substance or acid
  • Exposure to the sun

Compensation for Workers Who Suffer a Burn Injury

What are the general rules for receiving workers’ compensation in South Carolina if an employee suffers a burn injury?

  • Notice: An employee must give notice of an injury to their employer as soon as practicable and no later than 90 days after the injury.
  • Medical Treatment: The employer must provide medical care. Except in the case of an emergency, the employer decides which doctor the employee will see.
  • Claim: If an employer disputes a claim, the employee must file a claim within two years of the injury with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • Fault: An injured employee does not have to prove his or her employer was at fault.
  • Start of Benefits: No compensation is paid to the injured worker for the first seven days. If the disability lasts for more than 14 days, payments will go back to the date of the injury.
  • Amount of Payments: An injured employee receives 66 and two-thirds of their average weekly wage, up to the state’s maximum, which increases each year. The maximum was $838.21 for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2018.
  • Temporary Disability: Generally, the injured employee receives temporary disability benefits until they return to work or reach maximum medical improvement.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: South Carolina has a schedule of injuries that determines how long an employee receives benefits. For injuries to a part of the body not listed in the schedule, an injured employee gets benefits up to 500 weeks, depending upon the percentage of disability to the body as a whole.
  • Disfigurement: An employee with serious permanent disfigurement of the face or other areas normally exposed in employment can receive benefits up to 50 weeks.
  • Permanent Total Disability: If an employee is permanently and totally disabled, they can receive benefits up to 500 weeks.
  • Death Benefits: If an employee is killed on the job, the employee’s spouse and children may receive benefits.
  • Third Party Action: If a third party caused a fire, the employee may file a suit against the at-fault party. In the suit, the employee can recover all of their lost wages as well as compensation for pain and suffering, which can be severe from burn injuries.
  • Legal Help: The workers’ compensation process can get complicated, making it beneficial to hire an attorney. The attorney will determine whether to bring a suit against a third party.

Contact Us

If you suffer an injury at work, call a workers’ compensation lawyer at Steinberg Law Firm 24/7 at 843-720-2800, make an appointment at www.steinberglawfirm.com, or visit our offices in Charleston, Goose Creek or Summerville.

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Steinberg attorneys have been awarded numerous distinctions, such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News & World Report, Gedney M. Howe, Jr. Award for Outstanding Public Service, the SC Leadership in Law award, and has been voted Best Workers’ Comp Firm in SC, among other distinctions.

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