The recent news story on the tragic job injury and death in Savannah reminded me that many legal claims can arise from the same incident.
In this sad story, construction workers were injured and killed by a piece of equipment while working on a dock.
Clearly the men are covered by worker's compensation insurance.
In Georgia, that means 100% of medical bills are paid and up to $500 per week in income benefits during any disability (sometimes limited to 400 weeks).
There is sometimes partial wages paid if a worker returns to work earning less money. Those too are often capped or limited.
Some moneys are paid by worker's compensation for a "permanent impairment" issued by the company doctor.
For the family of the gentleman who lost his life, there are worker's compensation death benefits which vary based on if he leaves survivors.
A worker who is killed and if children are grown and he is divorced, the recovery could be zero! Death benefits are based on if there are children or a surviving spouse and other factors including the age of the survivors.
Georgia Worker's compensation does not provide for pain and suffering, loss of spousal services, scarring nor for the value of a person's life.
In Georgia, an injuried employee cant generally sue their employer. There are exceptions, see the Sugar refinary explosion.
The tragic facts in the news story open up other possible claims
1) The actions of an at fault 3rd party(s) if negligence caused the injury (can not be a co-employee) (an example would be a negligent contractor);
2) A defective machine or piece of equipment (products liability);
3) A potential maritime or admiralty claim since the harm occurred on or near the water ways;
4) Social Security (SSDI) for permanently disabled workers or survivor benefits;
5) Med-pay or medical coverage on the premises of the location.
These are examples of claims to investigate.
Seldom do all such claims exist at once, however careful coordination of claims needs to happen because some benefits off-set each other and many require subrogation or repayment.
One example is, in a worker's compensation settlement, a Medicare Set-a-side Trust often must be established and funded (usually by an annuity).
If minor children are involved any settlement or resolution will require that a guardian is appointed and the recovery must be approved by the Trial Judge and the Probate Court in the County of the famiy's residence.
Law, like medicine, is now very specialized and there are many issues that can arise from any claim.