Appellate Court Agrees With Workers’ Compensation Commission That South Carolina Man Was Employee, Not Independent Contractor

ladderSpartanburg and Greenville workers’ compensation cases are sometimes met with much resistance from the employers of those who are injured, as well as from their insurance companies.

This is unfortunate because, very often, workers’ compensation is the injured worker’s only means of obtaining much-needed medical care and temporary disability benefits. Although it is wise to consult an attorney any time you are dealing with an insurance company, this is especially true in disputed workers’ compensation cases. Quality legal representation can make all of the difference.

Facts of the Case

A recent case determined the issues in a workers’ compensation case brought by a man who was hurt while performing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning construction at a single-family home in Myrtle Beach in 2013. The accident happened when the man fell from a 30-foot extension ladder. His legs, back, and neck were injured in the accident. The defendant insurance company denied the man’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits on the ground that he had knowingly and voluntarily excluded himself from the defendant employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.

A single commissioner of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission found that the man was, in fact, an employee covered under the policy at the time of the accident. The Appellate Panel of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed and adopted the commissioner’s order. The defendants appealed, arguing that the Commission had erred in finding that the plaintiff was an employee rather than an independent contractor at the time of his injury and that the Commission had based its determination on immaterial information.

The Court’s Ruling

The State of South Carolina Court of Appeals disagreed with the defendant’s arguments and affirmed the Commission’s ruling. Workers’ compensation benefits apply only in cases in which there was an employer-employee relationship at the time of an injury. The claimant has the burden of proof and must convince the tribunal by the greater weight of the evidence. However, South Carolina has a policy of resolving jurisdictional doubts in favor of including employers and employees under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The primary consideration in determining whether an employer-employee relationship existed is whether the purported employer had the right to control the alleged employee in the performance of his or her work and the manner in which that work was done. Notably, the test is not whether control was actually exercised in a particular case but instead whether the right to control existed. The court found that there was evidence in the record illustrating that the employer did have the right to control the injured man’s work.

Get Legal Advice About a Work-Related Injury

Those who have been hurt on the job have a right to hire an attorney to represent them in the legal proceeding involving their claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Contacting an attorney early in the process can help alleviate some of the stress and worrying during a very uncertain time, as well as increasing the chances of receiving fair compensation. Call Spartanburg workers’ compensation lawyer Patrick E. Knie to schedule an appointment to get started on your case. You can reach us at 864-582-5118 to schedule a free consultation.

Related Blog Posts:

Workers’ Compensation Claimant’s Ability to Work Was Not, Alone, Dispositive of Permanent and Total Disability Under South Carolina Law

South Carolina Appeals Court Holds that No Sanctions Were Warranted Against Employer in Workers’ Compensation Case