A construction worker from Jacksonville was killed last week in an accident at a construction site in Georgia. The accident occurred at the College of Coastal Georgia in Glynn County. The victim suffered an electrical shock and fell from a ladder. Unfortunately, Georgia workers’ compensation law has fallen behind the times. The workers’ family will only be able to recover a relatively small amount through the workers’ compensation system.
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous workplaces in America. Construction worker deaths account for one out of every three workplace accident fatalities in the country. That is an appalling safety record, and it is one that Atlanta Workers’ Compensation lawyers have been extremely concerned about.
The thirty-two-year-old worker was working on the ladder, and had just reached out to turn on a piece of machinery. Suddenly, there was a loud sound, and the worker fell down several rungs of the ladder. There were no witnesses at the scene. The victim was rushed to the Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick Hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.
The worker was employed by a subcontractor working at the site. The College of Coastal Georgia is investigating the accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also expected to begin an investigation into this accident. The construction site is a $12 million project for the College of Coastal Georgia.
Workers on a construction site may face a number of accident and injury hazards. They may be exposed to the risk of electrocution through contract with high tension underground or overhead power lines or seriously injured or amputated by electrical shock. They may be involved in accidents with construction equipment, like forklifts. Workers may be seriously injured in fall accidents, and may suffer serious eye and facial injuries while using power tools. They may be buried alive during trench collapses, or suffer crushing injuries during scaffolding accidents. In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of construction workers were placed at serious risk of suffering mesothelioma and asbestosis from exposure to deadly toxic asbestos fibers in the construction industry.
In 2006, 192 people were killed in workplace accidents in Georgia. Many of these fatalities were entirely preventable. Under Georgia’s Workers Compensation laws, families of workers who have been killed on duty are not eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the employer of their loved one. However, they may be eligible for some limited Workers’ compensation benefits.
The surviving spouse of a worker who is killed in a workplace accident may be eligible for burial expenses and lost wages. Burial expenses may be compensated up to a maximum of $7,500. The spouse may be eligible for lost wages of a maximum of $500. There is a limit of $150,000 on the total payments that the spouse and children can receive in weekly payments. These payments must cease if the spouse marries or openly cohabits with another person.
Children of workers who are killed in workplace accidents in Georgia may also be eligible for benefits. Dependent children may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Children may be eligible for these payments until they reach the age of eighteen.