Wrongful Death & Legal Limitations

By Michael Goldberg

I saw a newscast on the probation officer who was recently shot and killed in Jackson, Georgia during a training accident. The incident occurred at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Training Facility. It is a violation of industry standards and numerous policies and procedures to use live ammunition during a training exercise. While it is clear that the trainer was negligent in this case, there will be two significant obstacles for the woman’s family to recover for her death. First, if the trainer was employed by the same employer as the probation officer, the employer will raise the worker’s compensation bar as a defense to any claim. Under worker’s compensation law, there is only a limited recovery for the death of an individual, much less than allowed under the Georgia Wrongful Death Statute. Second, if the trainer was a governmental employee, then the recovery will be limited by the Georgia Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”) to $1 million dollars. There are several notice and procedural requirements to obtaining a recovery under the GTCA. I hope for the family’s sake that the trainer was not a governmental employee and was working for an outside training company.

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