In the tragic event of a family member’s death while they are at work, Georgia families may be entitled to death benefits under the Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act. These death benefits, which are meant to ease the financial burden on the worker’s family, may be contested by employers.
Employers may dispute the compensability of a claim to avoid paying benefits to a worker’s family by claiming that the worker’s death is not covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. To receive benefits, a person must show that the worker’s death resulted instantly from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or that during a period of disability caused by an accident, the worker died as a result.
The Workers’ Compensation Act currently provides benefits for burial expenses of up to $7,500, and weekly compensation of two-thirds the worker’s income for the worker’s dependents up to $575 per week.
OSHA Fines Companies After Fatal Explosion at Drilling Rig
After a fatal explosion on a natural gas drilling rig in Oklahoma, three companies were fined $118,000 by OSHA, according to one news source. OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, sets and enforces workplace safety standards, and all employers are required to comply with OSHA’s standards. Five workers were killed in the explosion which occurred in January.
The five employees who were killed ranged from 26 years of age to 60 years of age. Preliminary findings show that the rig crew was changing the drill bit at the time of the explosion. The workers were found in the “doghouse” where drilling operations take place. Another worker tried to close a blowout preventer before he escaped by sliding down a guy wire. Blowout preventers are the last defense mechanism at a drill site.
OSHA fined the companies for violations mostly for exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards. OSHA fined Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. $73,909 for nine citations, Crescent Consulting LLC $36,586 for five citations, and SkyLine Directional Drilling LLC $8,148 for one citation. OSHA stated that the employers “failed to properly control hazards involved in oil and gas extraction activities.”
Among the violations OSHA found, two of the companies failed to maintain well control during drilling, failed to have a required emergency response plan, and failed to provide a back-up alarm system in place. OSHA also found that one company also failed to inspect an emergency descent device that could not be used as an escape option because of a “mechanical deficiency.”
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were hurt on the job, you are likely entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. You also may be able to recover financial compensation from another party if someone other than your employer is at fault for your injuries. At the law offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., we help our clients obtain all the benefits they are entitled to receive under Georgia’s workers’ compensation program and also carefully analyze the circumstances of their injury to determine whether we can file a third-party claim against another party. To learn more, contact our law firm at 404-303-7770 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.