- September 1, 2023
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Warehouse Accidents
The word “accident” is not an adequate explanation for a life-altering or life-ending workplace tragedy. Yet far too often, that’s all the information that survivors receive.
Differentiating an accident from an assault should be the beginning of the search for truth, not the end. Accidents happen in warehouses because of bad safety policies, poor training, time pressure, faulty equipment, and other quantifiable problems worthy of scrutiny.
Leaving accident investigations unfinished prevents accountability, denies closure to survivors, and allows the same types of accidents to repeat themselves in the future.
The Family of a Man Killed in a Golden Gourmet Warehouse Is Still Seeking Answers
Details on the death of 54-year-old Tony Lee Stafford are troublingly sparse at present. This seems to be because Golden Gourmet, the company that owns the warehouse where his accident occurred, has been uncommunicative with the victim’s family, emergency services, and OSHA.
Most of what has been shared comes from conversations between Stafford’s surviving family members and his coworkers, not from his boss or official representatives of the company.
Based on these reports, Stafford was working as a forklift operator, and was called into part of the warehouse on the morning of June 30th to assist another worker with a problem. He was attempting to take a picture of a hazardous situation when a pallet holding approximately 9,000 pounds of green beans fell on top of him.
A coworker drove Stafford to the ER at Phebe Sumter. The ER discharged him within a day, but he was admitted shortly afterward to Pheobe Putney Memorial Hospital, where he died on July 14th. At some point during his treatment, his sister visited him, finding him barely conscious with severe injuries to his face, chest, and legs.
The Sumter County Coroner followed up with OSHA four days after Stafford’s death — 18 days after the accident — and was told that no report had yet been made. He was also able to confirm that no call was made to 911.
Stafford leaves behind a wife, children, grandchildren, and a large extended family. Members of the family have, quite understandably, expressed frustration with the handling of this tragedy.
Accidents Covered by Worker’s Comp Sometimes Warrant a Civil Suit as Well
Generally, when a serious accident happens in a workplace, the victim or family is eligible for a partial settlement through the worker’s comp system. As long as the employer doesn’t interfere with that settlement, the employer is immune to being sued for the full value of the damages.
This is part of why follow-through on industrial accidents can be so perfunctory. Unlike a lawsuit, worker’s comp requires very little in the way of investigation.
Ironically, in one of the only statements Golden Gourmet has made on Stafford’s death, the company has said that Stafford was actually employed by The Staffing People, and not by Golden Gourmet itself.
While this seems like a denial of responsibility, it actually opens Golden Gourmet up to a potential wrongful death suit, because it would mean employer’s immunity doesn’t apply to them.
Even in cases where accident victims are employed by the facility where they were hurt, however, the victims and families can often sue for full compensation, with the help of a lawyer who’s willing to dig and get to the bottom of what happened.
Complex workplaces like warehouses usually depend on cooperation and components from multiple companies. When something goes wrong, there’s a good chance that someone other than the employer shares at least part of the fault, and can be held liable in court.
In the Stafford case, for example, it’s possible that the green bean pallet fell due to a defective part from a negligent supplier, or due to poor training by a different subcontractor working at the site.
If your family has been affected by a warehouse accident in Georgia, reach out to the Stoddard Firm to discuss your options. We may be able to help you uncover the truth of what caused the accident and claim the compensation you deserve.