- June 23, 2023
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Construction Accidents
Construction is one of the deadliest careers in the U.S, and falls are the leading cause of on-the-job death for construction workers. Properly safeguarding against these kinds of accidents could save hundreds of lives every year, yet inadequate fall protection on construction sites remains the single most common OSHA violation.
Under worker’s comp law, fall victims and their families are not allowed to sue their employers for personal injury or wrongful death. They can only file for partial compensation through the worker’s comp system itself. This makes it much harder to hold construction companies accountable for worker safety.
Fortunately, there are other ways for families to get full and fair settlements.
Multiple Companies May Share Fault for the Accident at the Ellabell Hyundai Plant
At around 11:30 on the morning of April 29th, 2023, a 35-year-old construction worker named Victor Javier Cajija Gamboa was working on the new Hyundai electric vehicle plant in Ellabell, just off of Highway 280 and the I-16.
For reasons currently unknown, he fell approximately 60 feet off of a structure in the unfinished plant’s future paint shop, and died. Hyundai has stated that his safety harness appears to have failed. OSHA is currently investigating.
He left behind five children, as well as two siblings, a fiancée, and his mother.
Gamboa was employed by a subcontractor at the plant construction site. That particular subcontractor is likely immune to any lawsuit for his wrongful death. However, there are other entities that might share responsibility, including:
- The harness manufacturer — Assuming the initial reports about a failing harness are accurate, this is the most likely culprit. Companies that sell safety gear are responsible for making sure that gear performs as advertised.
- Hyundai itself — This was the second fatal accident at a Hyundai plant in Georgia in less than two weeks. The first was a forklift crash at the Hyundai Mobis plant in West Point, which is also still under investigation. If Hyundai exerted any control over how the new plant’s construction was to be performed, and negatively impacted worksite safety in the process, the company could be liable.
- Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority — In its own words, this organization “combines resources to attract and facilitate regionally significant projects,” and it has been helping to coordinate the plant construction. If it played any role in compromising worker safety in favor of lower costs or a shorter timeline, that could qualify as negligence.
- Any other subcontractors working on the Hyundai electric vehicle plant — Constructing this plant is an enormous project. If any construction subcontractors other than Gamboa’s employer worked on the space where he died, they might be responsible for creating an unsafe situation for him.
Civil Litigation Can Provide More Complete Compensation Than Worker’s Comp
While worker’s comp death benefits can be very helpful for families struggling with immediate funerary expenses, they’re only a fraction of what a court would consider the “value of a life.”
Obviously, no amount of money can ever truly repair the loss of a loved one, but a typical wrongful death settlement at least takes into account the victim’s expected lifetime income, so that the family doesn’t have to worry about getting by without that support. Worker’s comp does not provide that level of security.
As next-of-kin to a workplace accident victim, you do not have to choose between filing for worker’s comp and suing someone other than your loved one’s employer. It’s perfectly okay to accept those limited benefits while exploring your options for a full settlement.
If you are one of the children of Victor Javier Cajija Gamboa, or handling his estate, or if you have also lost a loved one to a construction accident in Georgia, reach out to the Stoddard Firm to learn more about your options.
We have extensive experience representing bereaved families in workplace accident cases, including construction site falls and safety gear failures. We’ll explore every option to get you the compensation you deserve, and make the process as stress-free as possible.