If you’re a waiter, fast food worker, bartender, cook, dishwasher, or other restaurant support staff, you know that working in food service is a fast-paced and demanding industry. It’s no wonder that work-related injuries are common among food service employees in Florence, South Carolina.
Many injured employees have trouble getting the money they need for medical bills and making up for their lost income. Even a short-term injury could have significant and lasting consequences if you live paycheck to paycheck.
The workplace injury attorneys at Jebaily Law Firm are ready to help if you’ve been injured while working in the restaurant or food service industry in Florence. Our personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience helping those injured in our community seek the compensation they’re owed.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Common Work-Related Injuries in the Food Service Industry
According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost 94,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurred among full-service restaurant workers nationwide in just one recent year. That’s a staggering number, and it doesn’t even include employees who work in fast food, bars, or other businesses that serve food but are not “full-service” restaurants.
Additionally, the BLS reported about one-third of these injuries and illnesses required workers to take at least one day off work.
Some of the most common injuries among food service workers are:
- Muscles sprains and strains, often caused by lifting or carrying objects
- Repetitive stress injuries, such as damage to joints, bulging discs in the spine, etc.
- Injuries from falls, including broken bones, head injuries, etc.
- Back injuries
- Burns from hot plates, scalding liquids, boiling oil, hot stoves, etc.
- Electrical shocks from faulty appliances or worn/frayed electrical cords
- Hearing loss from constant noise at high volumes
- Injuries from acts of workplace violence
- Motor-vehicle accidents when employees are delivering food
- Illnesses from being exposed to toxic chemicals or other substances
Restaurant Employees’ Rights in Florence, SC
One of the reasons injuries are so widespread in the food service industry is that employees are not informed of their rights concerning workplace safety. If employees don’t know their rights, they’ll have a much harder time maintaining a safe work environment.
Some fundamental rights to be aware of if you’re a restaurant worker in South Carolina are:
- Right to know about workplace hazards — If you work with dangerous chemicals as part of your job, your employer must keep a list of these chemicals and make sure they are correctly labeled. Many employers are also required to keep records of work-related injuries and hazards, and you have the right to see these hazards.
- Right to protection from these hazards — Your employer must take reasonable precautions to protect you from dangers in the workplace. If they don’t do this, they could face legal action.
- Right to act to improve workplace safety — You have the right to report a workplace safety issue to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you file a safety complaint.
How to Pursue Compensation for Restaurant Worker Injuries
If you have been injured on the job while working in the food service industry, you have a few potential ways to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other losses. These options include:
- Workers’ Compensation — South Carolina requires most private employers with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. That applies regardless of whether these employees work full-time or part-time. If you work at a restaurant with four or more employees, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation if you suffer an injury. You are eligible for benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident (with a few exceptions). Workers’ compensation benefits cover any medical bills related to the injury, and you may be able to receive wage-replacement benefits for any lost income, up to a certain level under state law.
- Third-Party Liability — If someone other than your employer or a co-worker is responsible for your injuries at work, you may have grounds for a third-party personal injury lawsuit. For example, if you were injured in a car accident while making a delivery, you could be eligible to file an injury lawsuit. While workers’ compensation benefits are limited to your medical bills and a portion of your missed wages, a personal injury lawsuit allows you to pursue compensation for other losses, such as pain and suffering.
- Options for Undocumented Employees — Undocumented restaurant workers need to know that they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits just like any other worker. If your employer threatens you for making a workers’ compensation claim, talk to an attorney right away.
Steps to Prevent Injuries While Working in the Florence Restaurant Industry
Here are a few things you can do to prevent injuries at work if you work in food service:
- Create a list of possible hazards and a plan to address them.
- Report any injuries or hazards to a supervisor immediately.
- Make sure new employees receive proper safety training so they can keep themselves safe.
- Make sure any spills are cleaned up right away.
- Watch your speed while walking through the restaurant to minimize the chance of a slip-and-fall accident or colliding with another employee.
- Be especially careful when working around fryers, stoves, ovens, and other appliances that could burn you.
- Take your time when working with knives and other sharp objects, and use safety equipment.
- Store glasses and other objects that might shatter away from areas with a lot of foot traffic.
- Wear non-slip shoes and install non-slip mats in areas where spill hazards are likely.
How Our Florence Attorneys Can Maximize Your Compensation
Workers’ compensation claims are complicated, and employers and their insurers often dispute them. An attorney can help you fill out the necessary paperwork and push back against an aggressive employer or insurer. If they deny or undervalue your claim, your attorney can assist with appeals.
If you believe you have a case for a third-party personal injury lawsuit, you need to speak to an injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer can gather evidence to support your case, document all the injuries and losses you’ve suffered, and negotiate for a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurer. If the other side refuses to offer you an amount that considers all your losses, your lawyer might recommend filing a lawsuit to seek damages in court.
Contact Our Florence Restaurant Worker Injury Lawyers
Far too many service industry workers fail to seek the compensation they’re entitled to and often end up struggling financially.
The Florence restaurant worker injury lawyers at the Jebaily Law Firm never charge a fee for an initial case evaluation. If you hire us to represent you, you won’t pay us anything out of pocket for our services. Instead, we’ll represent you on a contingency fee basis, which means we’ll only collect our fee if we win your case.
Don’t wait. Contact us now for help.