On August 9, 2017, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed an Order of the Workers Compensation Commission in the matter of Sellers v. Tech Service, Inc., Op. No. 5508 (S.C. Ct. App. filed August 9, 2017) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 30 at 14). The Court of Appeals found that the injured worker, Stacey Sellers, was an employee under the Act, and not an “independent contractor” as claimed by his employer.
On November 8, 2013, Stacey Sellers fell off a ladder while performing HVAC work during the construction of a single-family home located in the Market Commons subdivision in Horry County. Claimant injured his lower extremities, his back, and his neck as a result of the fall. Claimant alleged that he was a long time employee of two HVAC companies, Tech Services of Myrtle Beach, LLC and/or Tech Services, Inc., and that he was working in the course and scope of his employment with one or both Tech Services entities at the time of the accident. The Employer claimed that Mr. Sellers was an independent contractor because he obtained his own workers’ compensation insurance, was provided a Form 1099, and worked for himself on other projects.
The Court of Appeals thoroughly analyzed the facts based on the 4 factor test to determine whether an injured worker qualifies as an employee in South Carolina. “Under settled law, the determination of whether a claimant is an employee or independent contractor focuses on the issue of control, specifically whether the purported employer had the right to control the claimant in the performance of his work.” Shatto v. McLeod Reg’l Med. Ctr., 406 S.C. 470, 475, 753 S.E.2d 416, 419 (S.C. 2013) (citations omitted). “Under the controlling common law rubric of the right of control, the Court examines four factors which serve as a means of analyzing the work relationship as a whole: (1) direct evidence of the right or exercise of control; (2) furnishing of equipment; (3) method of payment; (4) right to fire.” Id. (citations omitted). As Shatto requires, these factors should be applied “in an evenhanded manner in determining whether the questioned relationship is one of employment or independent contractor.” Id.
In applying these factors, the Court of Appeals held that the greater weight of the evidence supports the finding of an employment relationship between Mr. Sellers and Tech Service at the time of the accident. The Court noted there was overwhelming evidence in the record illustrating Tech Service had the right to exercise control over the details of Mr. Seller’s work. The record in this case is devoid of an independent contractor agreement. Tech Service furnished equipment for Mr. Sellers to use while on the job. At the time of the injury, Mr. Sellers was wearing a Tech Service uniform and had Tech Service business cards. He told service contracts for Tech Services and purchased supplies on Tech Service accounts with HVAC suppliers. Mr. Sellers received the majority of his income from Tech Service. In addition, the court found evidence illustrating Tech Service supervised, inspected and monitored the quality of Respondent’s work product supporting the finding that Tech Service had the right to terminate its working relationship with Respondent without liability. The totality of the evidence favored an employer/employee relationship over an independent contractor relationship.
If you have any questions about whether you are considered an “employee” or an “independent contractor”, please give us a call so that we can help. Unfortunately, employers and their workers compensation carriers will do anything to deny paying for benefits, even so far as to claim the you are not an employee under the law. This is a big win for injured workers!
The Full Opinion from the South Carolina Court of Appeal can be found here: http://www.sccourts.org/opinions/HTMLFiles/COA/5508.pdf
In South Carolina, motorcyclists are in more danger than in almost any other state in the Southeast, statistics show. The state’s 2015 fatality rate was its highest since 2007, and the 135 motorcyclists who died on South Carolina roads last year were the most this century. The cause has been attributed to poorly maintained road, potholes and pea gravel, inexperienced riders and distracted drivers. South Carolina law also allows riders to obtain motorcycle licenses with no training and minimum evidence of road proficiency.
Among nine Southeast states, South Carolina’s average annual fatality rate from 2011 to 2015 is approximately 10 deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles. The annual fatality rate is second worse, only to Mississippi, which has the least number of registered motorcycles in the region. The road skills test in South Carolina is taken on a closed course where requires riders to perform turns, stops and weaves. In fact, the most of the exercises of the Department of Motor Vehicles involve speeds of approximately 15 m.p.h.
The Goings Law Firm wants to remind South Carolina motorcycle drivers to be safe and vigilant on the roads. Watch out for other drivers who may not be operating their vehicle as carefully as you. The personal injury lawyers at the Goings Law Firm know all too well the life-altering injuries that can occur when drivers are not driving carefully
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, trucking accident, or motorcycle collision, please call us at 803-350-9230 to see if we can help. Our personal injury attorneys may be able to assist you with the applicable legal process and help you obtain the compensation you need.
The Goings Law Firm is pleased to announce that Columbia Workers Compensation attorney, Christian Boesl has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Christian will be managing the expanding workers’ compensation practice at the Goings Law Firm. We are blessed to have him as a valuable member of the team. More to come about Christian Boesl!
The entire team at Goings Law Firm is proud to announce that managing partner and founder Robert Goings was named the “Top Attorney for Personal Injury Litigation” for the 2017 edition of the Legal Elite of the Midlands by Columbia Business Monthly.
The article includes an interview with attorney Goings and discusses his passion for music, the arts, his family, and how these formative influences shaped his development into one of the state’s leading trial attorneys. The piece also discusses his desire to “tell a story, connect with the jury, and to be authentic, truthful, and compassionate in the courtroom as he represents his client to the best of his ability”. To read the article in its entirety in the digital version of Columbia Business Monthly, click here.
Any driver will tell you that intersections are one of the most dangerous places to drive, especially during periods of heavy traffic at peak hours of the day. As people rush to get home, many drivers take more risks and drive recklessly and negligently, causing accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. This reality is no different for Columbia and Richland Counties, so accidents at some of our busiest intersections continue to worry law enforcement and concerned citizens alike. According to a recent article from The State, which reported on some of the most dangerous intersections in these counties, the intersection of Broad River Road and I-20 had the most accidents in the area last year: 142 in 2016. Of course, this intersection is not the only dangerous one in the city. Several others, including what the locals call “Malfunction Junction,” continue to cause problems as thousands of commuters travel through these areas each day.
Intersections certainly have inherent dangers, but drivers and their reckless behaviors are the main causes of these accidents. Distracted practices while driving, such as using a cellphone, following other cars too closely, and failing to stay in your lane during turns all contribute to the high accident rate in these areas. Additionally, speeding, illegal U-turns, and running red lights further contribute to accidents at intersections. Drivers should be particularly cautious at busy intersections and practice additional care when driving in periods marked by heavy traffic. Other drivers are often unpredictable, and their reckless behavior is the main factor in the occurrence of accidents. Remember to be attentive, share the road, and take steps to keep yourself and other drivers safe to avoid the resulting injuries and financial stress caused by accidents.
With accidents on the rise, more and more people are unfortunately injured and made to suffer the consequences of accidents, even if it was not their fault. The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC drive these same dangerous intersections. As drivers, we have a right to safety on the road, and those who create unsafe conditions should be held legally and financially responsible for their actions. For more information or to speak one of our qualified and compassionate Columbia personal injury attorneys, please contact us at (803) 350-9230 today.
Columbia trial attorney Robert Goings successfully secured a $750,000 verdict on behalf of a law clerk who was injured when he fell on an excessively slippery staircase inside the U.S. Bankruptcy Court building in downtown Columbia. The individual, a law clerk for a federal bankruptcy judge, suffered a herniated disk and accrued $40,000 in medical bills, as well as additional and lasting pain from the injury.
Crockett Facilities Service, the Maryland-based company responsible for maintaining the courthouse, ultimately admitted responsibility, especially when it was revealed that the company had removed slip-resistant strips from the stairs and had polished the staircase immediately before the accident. Attorney Goings following the settlement had this statement: ““In any case, we are very pleased with the outcome. Most falls are preventable, and in this case, all Crockett had to do was buy a strip that only cost $1 or $2. It’s a mistake that cost them $750,000.”
For more information on this settlement, read The State article, and if you have been injured in an accident, make sure to contact The Goings Law Firm for the right representation for your claim. There is a reason why people turn to Robert Goings in their time of need, so contact us to find out why.
Data from the South Carolina Insurance Department show that, based on an aggregate of the state’s top 10 insurers, insurance rates in South Carolina jumped 8.9 percent in 2016, a much bigger increase than what we’ve seen in the previous three years. The State reported that these increases may, at least in part, be attributed to an increase in accidents related to distracted driving. And what are drivers distracted by? Often, it’s their cell phones.
Russ Dubisky, executive director of the South Carolina Insurance Association, a lobbying group of insurance companies, indicated that not only are the motor vehicle accidents becoming more frequent, but they’re resulting in more serious injuries. According to department records, distracted-driving collisions with injuries rose to a record 5,698 in 2016, up from 4,399 in 2011.
The Goings Law Firm, LLC encourages South Carolina drivers to be careful, stay focused, and avoid texting while driving. Distracted driving leads to dangerous motor vehicle collisions and potentially serious personal injuries, and the simple fact is these kind of accidents are avoidable.
2016 saw a rise in traffic fatalities in Richland County, and it seems that the problem will continue. 67-year-old Alicesene Dear Gilmore was killed on Friday, March 3, 2015 after being struck by an unidentified vehicle that fled the scene. According to Cola Daily, Ms. Gilmore was walking from Trenton Court Apartments to the store with two family members when the vehicle crashed into her. Police are still investigating and looking for the driver of the vehicle who struck Ms. Gilmore.
At the Goings Law Firm, LLC, our personal injury attorneys understand the hardships that families go through when a loved one is killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision. There are often more questions than answers, and the legal implications can be confusing and burdensome. Give the Goings Law Firm, LLC a call today to see if we can help. (803) 350-9230
Around 6:30pm on Monday night, a car struck the Richland County Library’s Northeast branch, which resulted in three people being taken to the hospital. According to WIS’s report, the vehicle that struck the library first struck two other vehicles in the library parking lot. The only library patron who was injured was walking out the front door at the time of the accident; the other two individuals who went to the hospital were in the vehicles involved. Thankfully, current reports indicate that no one was seriously injured.
Car collisions can occur in many different ways, but in any accident that results in injuries, people can find themselves in need of assistance. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and needs help navigating the legal minefield in order to be compensated, give the personal injury attorneys at the Goings Law Firm, LLC a call and see if we can help. (803) 350-9230.