Even children as young as 14 can be legally hired to work at part-time and low-risk jobs. While state and federal child labor laws such as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act protect children entering the workforce, accidents can and will occur. Some of the most dangerous jobs for minors include: making door to door sales calls, driving-related jobs that require long distance traveling; operating heavy machinery such as forklifts or tractors, using chemicals, working at grain storage facilities and any workplace activity involving high heights with the potential for falls.
Employees who are hurt on the job are generally entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits to help with the costs of medical treatment, loss wages and rehabilitation. Minors also are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits if their injuries result from a workplace accident. Under South Carolina law, a minor can receive temporary partial disability benefits if they are still able to work but will earn less than usual as a result of the injury. Temporary benefits can last up to 340 weeks and are capped at a maximum benefit of approximately $800 a week.
When severe injuries occur such as a loss of a limb or an eye, the minor worker may qualify for total disability benefits. In the case of extreme injuries such as paralysis or permanent brain damage, Workers’ Compensation benefits could last for life. Filing for Workers’ Compensation benefits as a minor can raise some complicated legal issues.
Determination of Future Earning Potential
If a work-related injury results in a permanent partial or total disability, a worker often receives compensation for lost wages including the loss of future earning capacity. This compensation amount is determined by calculating the earning potential of the injured worker. In the case of a minor who is anticipated to work for an additional 40 to 50 years until they reach retirement age, the future earnings amount can be significant.
Special Compensation for Minors
In some cases, Workers’ Compensation judges will award an additional amount of compensation to minors who are injured performing higher risk tasks that are assigned to them on the basis of their age. If an employer is assigning dangerous jobs to young employees rather than seasoned employees, they may be exposing themselves to an award of special compensation should there be a workplace accident.
Legal Status of Minor Employees
Minor employees must obtain a valid working permit (sometimes referred to as “working papers”) prior to working. If an employer hires a minor without a valid work permit, many states view the employment as illegal. Employers who illegally employ minors, who are then injured at the workplace may owe double the amount of partial or total disability compensation or death benefits. Employers also must follow state and federal laws related to required safety training and work hour restrictions for minors.
Avoiding Workplace Accidents involving Minors
Preventing workplace accidents, especially accidents involving minors, should remain a top priority for employers. The U.S. Department of Labor provides guidance as to the types of work permitted to be performed by minors on their website. Parents can ensure their child is working in an appropriate environment by monitoring their child’s workplace.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Minors Injured at Work
If you are a parent of a minor who has been injured in a workplace accident, the experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are here to help. Call us today to schedule a confidential initial consultation at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or contact us online.
We represent injured workers across South Carolina, including those in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.