The thoughts and prayers of the entire country are with the victims and the families of the victims of the tragic explosion at the ConAgra Foods Slim Jim Plant in Garner, North Carolina.
The explosion which occurred Tuesday afternoon killed 3 people, critically burned 4 and sent 38 victims to the hospital.
Experts across the country are descending upon Garner, North Carolina to try to determine the cause of the tragic blast.
Meanwhile, the victims and their families and the families of the 3 deceased victims are in shock at the magnitude of the tragedy which was suddenly thrust upon them.
The families are understandably emotionally stressed and certainly their first concern is for the healing of the surviving victims and the comfort of the families of the deceased victims.
These victims will also be concerned with how they are going to feed their families while they are out of work and for the financial security of the families of the deceased victims.
One sure source of recovery is under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation insurance will pay the out of work victims two-thirds of their average weekly wage until they can return to work at suitable employment.
The families of the deceased victims will be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits to partially offset the loss of the wage earning capacity of their loved one.
Although workers’ compensation insurance benefits are very important to these victims and their families, the benefits under workers’ compensation are extremely limited. The workers’ compensation system is designed only to partially replace lost wages. It is not intended to fully compensate victims for the loss of loved ones and for all the injuries suffered by the injured survivors.
The only way these victims can recover more than workers’ compensation benefits from their employer is if they are able to prove that the employer’s conduct was “substantially certain” to result in injury or death to the workers. It will be extremely difficult for workers to meet this heavy burden of proof. However, it may be possible for these injured workers and their families to recover money in excess of normal workers’ compensation benefits. If the investigations know being conducted several different agencies and entities reveal that the tragedy was caused by the negligence or defective products of third parties the families could recover from these third parties.
If third parties (entities or individuals other than employees of the employer ConAgra Foods, Inc.) the workers may be able to recover for pain and suffering, punitive damages, and possibly other consequential damages which result from this tragedy.
You can be sure that, if third parties were involved, their representatives and insurance companies are on the scene right now in an effort to uncover evidence which they hope will prove that their conduct or their products were not responsible for the tragedy.
It appears that 3 of the ConAgra employees died in the explosion: Barbara McLean Spears 43 of Dunn; Lewis Junior Watson 33 of Clayton; and Rachel Mae Poston-Pulley 67 of Clayton.