Earlier this year, a 61-year-old hotel worker froze to death after she became trapped in a walk-in freezer while on the job. According to one national news source, the Atlanta woman walked into the freezer toward the end of her shift and never walked out. Her husband called her manager the next day after she didn’t come home, and her body was discovered in the walk-in freezer.
After the woman’s death, the hotel performed a number of tests on the freezer door and reported that it was functioning properly. However, a follow-up inspection conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicated that the release button inside the freezer malfunctioned. The report explains that on the day of the test, an employee entered the walk-in freezer and was unable to exit without the assistance of another employee. The medical examiner listed the woman’s cause of death as undetermined, with the added notation “found in freezer, malfunctioning exit release button.”
Since this incident, OSHA has issued a $12,500 fine and cited the employer for a “serious violation.” OSHA recommended that the hotel come up with a voluntary plan to prevent similar accidents in the future, with the understanding that there will be subsequent on-site inspections.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Georgia
Most people are aware that the workers’ compensation program provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job. What is less well known is the fact that the surviving family members of workers who are killed in an on-the-job accident may also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This may also be the case when a worker dies after a long battle with a workplace-related illness.
In Georgia, the families of workers who die as a result of an on-the-job accident or illness may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Long-term benefits may be available for spouses, minor children, and step-children, and in some cases, other financially dependent relatives of the deceased worker.
The amount of the benefits is equal to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s wages, up to a weekly maximum of $575. In the case of a surviving spouse, spousal benefits will be paid for 400 weeks or until the age of 65, whichever results in the larger sum of money. However, in some cases, other benefit maximums may apply. To learn more about Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, contact a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney today.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Georgia Workplace Accident?
If you have recently lost a loved one in a Georgia workplace accident, you may be entitled to long-term workers’ compensation death benefits. The workers’ compensation program is a no-fault program, meaning that bereaved loved ones will normally be spared the emotionally difficult task of establishing liability. However, workers’ compensation claims are not always approved, for a variety of reasons. Call Attorney J. Franklin Burns, a well-respected and established workers’ compensation attorney, to set up a free consultation. We accept cases throughout Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Call 404-303-7770 today to get started.