On the afternoon of May 11, 2021, there was an explosion in the kitchen of a DeKalb County restaurant. Tragically, a woman who was working died from her injuries.
The restaurant where this tragedy occured is Main Moon Chinese, located on Hugh Howell Road in Tucker, Georgia. According to the fire captain Dion Bentley, the explosion took place around 2 p.m. The appliance that exploded was a piece of commercial kitchen equipment used to cook meat in large quantities, said Bentley. Their initial investigation led the police to believe the explosion was an accident.
Out of an abundance of caution, most of the other businesses in the strip mall were evacuated by fire crews. The fire investigators said no damage was sustained to the building itself.
When the employee was discovered, she was immediately taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her severe injuries.
This employee died while performing her typical work duties, so is her family eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits?
Let’s take a look at what Georgia law says.
Workers’ comp rights for restaurant employees
If you work for a restaurant or bar in Georgia and were injured on the job, you’re most likely entitled to workers’ compensation. It doesn’t matter if you work as a dishwasher or you manage an entire restaurant — if you’re injured during your shift, then you should be able to get financial help to cover your lost wages and medical expenses.
Each state is allowed to determine if restaurants are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In Georgia, restaurants and fast food eateries are indeed required to have such coverage. While it may be tempting to just “soldier on” or “walk off” that latest injury, it’s important to tell your manager when you’re hurt and seek immediate medical help.
Some employers have workers’ compensation policies that explain exactly which doctor you should see. You can always get a second opinion, or head straight to the emergency room if the injury is severe. Without proper treatment, your injury could become worse, leading to more downtime and a longer recovery.
After receiving treatment for your injury, consult a workers’ compensation lawyer near you to calculate how much your claim is worth. By filing a workers’ compensation claim, you’ll not only be reimbursed for medical expenses, but also lost wages and rehabilitation costs.
Death benefits for family after employee is killed on the job
In order for a person’s dependents to be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits, the deceased individual’s death must be considered to be “work-related” or “occupational.”
Generally, most fatal accidents that happen in the workplace are considered work-related, though not all. Likewise, deadly incidents that happen outside the workplace but in the performance of job-related duties may be eligible for death benefits.
While the exact amount of damages available to grieving individuals and families following the death of a loved one at work varies based on where you live, every state provides at least some death claim compensation for a deceased worker’s:
- Funeral/burial costs. Compensation for funeral and burial expenses ranges from $800 to $85,000, depending on where you live. Most states offer at least $5,000 to $10,000. In Georgia, the family of a worker killed on the job—such as the server in DeKalb County—can receive up to $7,500 for burial expenses.
- Lost wages. To help the deceased’s dependents meet their financial obligations despite the loss of income, indemnity benefits usually provide weekly installment payments equal to two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wage—up to a maximum payment that changes based on inflation and is set by each state. In Georgia, families can receive two-thirds (66 percent) of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum limit of $675 per week.
- Medical expenses. If your loved one received medical care before they passed due to an occupational injury or illness, then these bills should be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.