Attorney David J. King


Teens and workers’ comp in South Dakota

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Worker's Compensation

Unlike most states, South Dakota doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, if an employer doesn’t have it, they can face a costly civil lawsuit from a worker who has been injured or the surviving family of a one who has been killed. Therefore, most employers opt to carry workers’ comp insurance.

It’s crucial to understand that if you have a teen who is employed, even part time or seasonally, they’re likely eligible for workers’ comp benefits if they’re injured at work or become ill due to workplace conditions. You don’t have to be 18 to qualify for these benefits.

If your teen works in a restaurant, store or movie theater, you may not consider their job dangerous – and they likely don’t either. However, any job where there’s a risk of fall, cuts, burns or musculoskeletal injures (from lifting and carrying heavy items) can be hazardous.

The right to a safe workplace – and workers’ comp if necessary

Teens can be at greater risk of injury than adults because too many employers don’t spend the same amount of time and effort on safety training for employees who may only work a few hours a day or a few days a week. Further, teens are often more willing to take risks than their adult co-workers.

It’s also important for teens and their parents to understand that an employer can’t retaliate against a worker for filing a workers’ comp claim. Further, in most cases, workers’ comp is a “no-fault” insurance, meaning that even if someone is injured because they weren’t as careful as they should have been (assuming they weren’t reckless or under the influence) or was doing something incorrectly, they’re still entitled to benefits. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Most workplace injuries and illnesses are caused by unsafe environments — not human error.”

A serious workplace injury can affect a young person’s entire life – particularly if they don’t get the medical care they need. That’s why it’s critical that your teen report any injuries immediately and begin the application process for compensation to cover medical care and a portion of their lost wages.

Teens have a right to a safe workplace. Don’t let your teen’s employer try to talk them out of seeking the benefits they’re entitled to. If you have questions or concerns about your teen’s application for workers’ comp benefits, it may be wise to get legal guidance.