An employee of Atlanta Sand & Supply died from electrocution on July 9, 2020. Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks stated that the man was pronounced dead at the scene around 9:30 a.m. 

The employee was 60-year-old James Wallace Dean, Jr. from Roberta. The accident occurred at the Byron location of Atlanta Sand & Supply.

Electrical Injuries Are Common in the Workplace

Injuries caused by exposure to electricity are common in the workplace. Many electrical injuries and electrocutions occur in the construction industry

Over one-half of all electrical fatalities between 2003 and 2018 occurred in the construction industry. During 2018, electrocutions accounted for approximately 8.5 percent of construction fatalities. There was an 18 percent increase in overall electrical fatalities in the workplace from 2017 to 2018.

Though electrical injuries decreased from 2017 to 2018, the construction industry saw the highest rate of nonfatal electrical accidents, followed by the manufacturing industry. 

Individuals in various industries are at risk for electrical injuries including, but not limited to:

  • Electricians
  • Electrical power-line workers
  • Employees who install or work with industrial machinery
  • Construction workers
  • Air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration employees
  • Tree trimmers and pruners
  • Telecommunication repairers and installers
  • Painters, carpenters, roofers, and maintenance workers
  • Groundskeepers and landscapers

Injuries caused by electrical accidents vary. Electrical injuries often include tissue damage, nerve damage, excessive bleeding, internal organ damage, amputation, muscle damage, and broken bones. Workers who sustain electrical injuries miss time from work, incur medical bills and could develop permanent impairments or disabilities. 

Why Do Electrical Accidents Occur on the Jobsite?

Electrical accidents happen for numerous reasons. Factors that can contribute to or increase the risk of electrocution or electrical injury include:

  • Unsafe work practices
  • Improper use of electrical cords
  • Lack of ground-fault protection
  • Unsafe installation and maintenance of equipment
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Unsafe work environment
  • Lack of adequate safety protocols
  • Inexperienced workers and lack of training
  • Defective wiring or equipment

Georgia’s workers’ compensation system generally covers electrical injuries at work. Employees injured on the job may be entitled to several workers’ compensation benefits. If an employee dies from a workplace accident, the employee’s family members may be entitled to death benefits under workers’ compensation.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Georgia?

Most employers in Georgia are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance which covers accidents and injuries occurring within the normal scope of employment. Benefits that an injured worker may receive include: 

Medical Treatment and Rehabilitative Treatment

Workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses. Medical care may include, but is not limited to:

  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgeries
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Doctor’s bills
  • Medical equipment
  • Related travel expenses
  • Other reasonable and necessary treatment

There is no co-pay or other fees related to medical care for covered workplace injuries charged to the employee.

Depending on the severity of the injury, a worker may also be entitled to rehabilitation benefits. Rehabilitative services are often required when the employee sustains a catastrophic injury, such as loss of limb, senses, or bodily function.

Income Benefits

If an employee is unable to work because of his or her injuries, the employee is entitled to temporary total disability. The amount the employee receives depends on his or her average weekly wages. Employees who cannot work full time, but can return to light duty, are paid partial total disability payments.

Income benefits received through the workers’ compensation system do not reimburse workers for all lost income caused by a workplace accident. The benefits are only a portion of the worker’s regular pay.

Permanent Disabilities 

Workers who sustain a permanent impairment or disability may receive additional benefits. The amount of the benefit depends on the severity of the disability and the body part impacted by the injury.

Death Benefits

When a worker dies in a job-related accident, the family members may receive certain benefits through the workers’ compensation system. Death benefits through workers’ compensation are much more limited than the benefits a family might receive by filing a wrongful death claim.

Because workers’ compensation benefits often do not compensate a worker or family members for all damages caused by a workplace injury, you may want to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer about filing a third-party claim.

Third-Party Claims for Workplace Injuries

In most cases, an injured worker does not have the legal right to sue his or her employer when workers’ compensation covers the injury. However, there are exceptions. If the employer intentionally caused the injury or was grossly negligent, the worker could have a claim against the employer.

Additionally, some employees may have a third party claim against other parties involved in the accident. For instance, if the injury involved a defective piece of equipment, the employee may have a claim against the manufacturer under product liability laws. Another example would be a claim against a negligent subcontractor.

Third party claims for workplace injuries can result in full compensation of all damages, including pain and suffering damages. Consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer is the first step in determining the compensation you might be entitled to receive for a workplace injury.