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Worker Dies in Asphalt Silo Welding Accident

A welder was trapped in a piece of equipment at an asphalt plant in Waycross, Georgia in August. Based on the earliest reports, all that was known is that the 35 year old worker was cutting a piece of metal when safety equipment that was in place failed and he was trapped in a piece of equipment.

The Mechanics of the Accident

Asphalt silos are large storage vats for asphalt. Though they are similar in appearance to grain silos, they involve a much more sophisticated storage technology. Made from stainless steel, these silos are insulated and equipped with electrical heating systems to prevent the asphalt from setting during storage.

Later reports have provided more detail. The asphalt silo in this case was equipped with “clamshell” doors that were locked open for the worker to safely perform his task. For unknown reasons, the safety locks failed and the doors slammed shut, crushing him between them. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The later reports also indicated that the worker had been employed under a false name.

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

When tragic workplace fatalities occur, the law provides the eligible beneficiaries of the deceased with death benefit payments for a limited time. In the case of spouses, these benefits last until the spouse remarries. In the case of children, stepchildren, or other minor dependents, the benefits are paid until the age of 18 unless the child is in college (in which case they are paid until the age of 22) or suffers from a disability that prevents them from working.

Like standard workers’ compensation benefits, payments are indexed to the worker’s income, consisting of weekly payments to the dependents in a percentage of the worker’s salary, with maximum caps.

The Significance of the False Name

Though the worker here apparently used a false identity to obtain his job, this likely does not have any bearing on the eligibility of his dependents to receive workers’ compensation. We do not speculate as to why the false name was given. What matters here is that while the law does make it a misdemeanor to give false information in connection to a workers’ compensation claim, the false information given here was apparently during the hiring process. While this apparent fraud would be grounds for termination in itself, it does not necessarily provide grounds for denying workers’ compensation benefits, because the employment relationship is undisputed. However, it does complicate the process of determining who the rightful beneficiaries are, and whether it is feasible for them to recover death benefits.

Contact a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Whether you are injured or a loved one has died as a result of a workplace accident, you are entitled to benefits. Although workers’ compensation laws are designed to be efficient and result in fast payments compared to the tort system, sometimes one little fact can complicate a claim.  The experienced attorneys at the the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the difficulties in your case to bring about a timely resolution.

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Seth Bader
(678) 562-5595