Notice can be an important issue in a case involving injuries or wrongful death. While sometimes the simple act of filing a claim within the statute of limitations is all that is required, there are some kinds of cases in which other, earlier action is required.
South Carolina workers’ compensation cases, for example, require the giving of notice of an injury or accident to one’s employer within a certain time period. (Cases in which negligence is alleged against the government or a governmental employee may also have a formal notice requirement.) While it might seem like the issue of whether appropriate and timely notice was given in a particular case would be easy to resolve, this is not always so.
The Facts of the Case
In a recent appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who worked on a state transportation department road crew. In June 2012, he and several fellow employees were pulling a large two-by-four over freshly poured concrete to level it when the plaintiff’s supervisor pulled him off the job because he “appeared overheated.” Later that day, the plaintiff lost consciousness and fell to the ground in the presence of his co-workers and supervisor. He recovered and drove home. After the plaintiff passed out a second time while sitting in his driveway, his wife took him to the hospital. He eventually had surgery due to spinal stenosis.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission denied the plaintiff’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits on the grounds that he did not provide adequate notice to his employer or demonstrate a reasonable excuse for that.
Decision of the Court
The State of South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed. Under previous case law, the statutory notice provision is to be liberally construed in favor of workers’ compensation claimants. Under the circumstances, the court found that the plaintiff did not have to formally report his injury because his supervisor was “right there” when he fainted. As the court noted, the supervisor saw the plaintiff “fall to the ground, unconscious, after completing … physically challenging… work.” The court also opined that the lower tribunal had erred in finding that the plaintiff’s employer was prejudiced by any alleged deficiency in his notice. Not only was the supervisor present at the time of the plaintiff’s accident, but also he and others were aware of the plaintiff’s subsequent medical treatment.
Contact a Knowledgeable South Carolina Work Injury Lawyer
If you have been hurt on the job, you may be entitled to substantial compensation in the form of temporary disability benefits, permanent disability payments, and medical expenses. However, you are not likely to receive the full amount to which you are entitled unless you assert your legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits in a timely and assertive manner. At the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg and Greenville, we regularly represent workers who have been hurt on the job. For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us today at 864-582-5118.
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