How to get maximum workers’ comp benefits if you suffer an injury while working at Boeing
Boeing is a multinational aerospace company that develops and manufactures commercial jetliners as well as other aerospace products, services and technology. Their headquarters are currently in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington D.C.
They employ more than 140,000 employees worldwide, most of them in the U.S. More than 36,000 workers are employed in the development, manufacturing and marketing of commercial jetliners. More than 10,000 Boeing planes are in service today.
Boeing in South Carolina
Boeing has been operating some business in South Carolina since 2009, when it acquired Vought Aircraft Industries, Charleston Operations and Global Aeronautica LLC. Today it employs almost 6,000 workers, mostly in Charleston.
What does Boeing do at its South Carolina facility?
Most final assembly of Boeing’s commercial jetliners, including the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 series, occurs in Washington, with some parts and subassemblies manufactured in other states.
Boeing’s South Carolina plants manufactured some parts for the new 787. But in mid-2021, Boeing moved to its Charleston, South Carolina, facility for all of its fabrication, final assembly and delivery of the 787.
What are the unique risks faced by people who work in aerospace manufacturing?
Aerospace workers typically endure irregular shifts, intense physical exertion and stressful responsibilities. A single error or oversight can have catastrophic consequences, and this demand on aerospace workers can increase the risk of injuries from accidents related to fatigue and stress.
Did you know?
Irregular work shifts can pose a serious danger to employees, causing fatigue and increasing the risk of accidents on the job and even on the road. Research has shown that workers who are sleep-deprived are more likely to be involved in car crashes, making it important for employers to ensure that their employees are well-rested.
Aerospace manufacturing often occurs around the clock to meet customers’ demands. This is particularly true if they are behind schedule, which can incur substantial financial penalties under their contracts. Studies have frequently shown that late-shift workers are more likely to incur accidents because of fatigue.
Common accidents experienced by Boeing employees
Boeing employees are at risk of certain accidents that are more common in the aerospace industry.
Robotics are increasingly used in aerospace manufacturing. They are supposed to be a substitute for human exposure to dangerous, repetitive or unpleasant functions. But robots are machines, and, like machines, robots pose hazards of their own.
Accidents with robots can occur during many non-routine operations, such as maintenance, setup or programming. During such operations, the robot can function in ways unexpected by an attending human worker, causing injury.
Assembly of the huge 787 in South Carolina entails work at heights on scaffolding or on the plane. Common accidents causing injuries are falls from great heights and also falling objects striking workers on the floor.
Common workplace injuries and illness experienced by Boeing employees
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2017, aerospace worker injuries were incurred at the rate of 2.8 per 100 employees. The injuries and illnesses that resulted in days of absence from work were most commonly caused by the following:
- Pushing and/or pulling
- Repetitive stress from use of tools and/or equipment
- Slips, trips and falls
- Back injury
For the entire U.S., musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are responsible for $45 to $55 billion in annual economic loss. While MSDs are not risks exclusive to aerospace workers, they are of special concern for them. In fact, according to one study, approximately 77 percent of aerospace workers experience MSDs, predominantly lower back injuries.
South Carolina workers’ compensation law and benefits
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system that compensates employees for injuries and illnesses incurred at work. All 50 states, including South Carolina, have enacted laws and administrative rules that govern the system.
South Carolina law (South Carolina Code Section 42-1-10 et seq) requires employers with 4 or more employees to cover their employees with workers’ compensation benefits.
Most employers provide coverage with workers’ compensation insurance, but some who qualify can self-insure. Boeing workers’ compensation is self-insured, but they contract with 3rd-party claims managers to resolve workers’ compensation claims.
State agencies administer workers’ compensation laws. In South Carolina, the administrative agency is the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Workers’ compensation benefits
If you’re injured on the job in South Carolina, workers’ comp benefits include the following:
- Payment of all medical and related expenses
- A portion of lost wages (typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage)
- Compensation for permanent and temporary disabilities
- Death benefits
To get workers’ comp benefits, you have the burden to prove that your injury or illness arose out of and in the course of employment.
If your employer (Boeing) denies your benefits claim, you can appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commission. From there, you can appeal to the courts.
What to do if you’re injured while working at Boeing
Getting hurt on the job at Boeing will require you to take defined steps to make your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Report your injury to your supervisor
Your 1st step is to report the injury to your supervisor or as otherwise directed by your employer. You have 90 days after your injury to report it.
Whenever possible, it’s in your best interest to not file such a report without consulting a workers’ compensation attorney first. The process of filing a workers’ compensation is full of pitfalls that can compromise your claim, beginning with the 1st step of your accident report.
Seek medical attention
The next step is to see a doctor. In South Carolina, Boeing will select a doctor from its list of approved physicians. At your appointment, answer the doctor’s questions completely and honestly. Everything you say or omit to say can be evidence if your claim is denied and you have to appeal to the Commission. Please be aware that if you don’t comply with Boeing’s selection of a doctor and other instructions, they can refuse to pay your medical bills.
File a claim
When you file your claim, Boeing will place the case in the hands of their claims manager who will dispatch a claims adjuster to investigate the accident. They will interview you first and then interview witnesses and review medical records.
Some adjusters will try to trick you into saying something that compromises your case. Do not sign any statements or allow them to record your statements by audio or video means without consulting your attorney.
Protect yourself from these sneaky tricks insurance adjusters use to decrease or deny your workers’ comp or personal injury claim in South Carolina.
As a general matter, you should bear in mind that a claims adjuster is working for Boeing. Boeing, like other employers, does not like to pay claims if it can help it. The claims adjuster is paid by Boeing. While the adjuster may act like your friend, their job performance is judged by how well they manage their assigned claims in favor of Boeing.
Wait for your claim to be approved or denied
Eventually, Boeing’s claims manager will recommend a resolution. They will send you a letter setting forth their disposition of your claims. If you agree you can accept their decision.
If you do not agree, you can appeal your case to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
You have 2 years from the date of your accident to file your compensation claim, but, generally speaking, it’s better to file your claim sooner than later. Your best advice is to engage an experienced South Carolina workers’ comp attorney and listen to their advice.
Learn about the filing deadlines for South Carolina workers’ comp cases so you don’t miss your chance to receive benefits after a work injury.
When to contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated—especially when you’re dealing with a large company like Boeing. A workers’ comp attorney can help you file all necessary paperwork and negotiate with your employer and the insurance company on your behalf so you can be sure your claim is handled appropriately.
Choosing the right workplace injury attorney for your claim is essential for ensuring the best outcome.
If you’ve been injured on the job while working at Boeing, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too.
Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.