State senate votes to streamline compensation process

The Georgia State Senate last week passed legislation proponents say will streamline compensation to families of public emergency workers who are killed in the line of duty.

“Georgia’s emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day for the safety and security of the people of this state,” state Sen. Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said in a news release. “The least we can do is to ensure that their families receive compensation in the tragic event that their loved one is killed while serving in the line of duty. This bill will bring consistency to the way payments are made to family members, ensuring that the process is structured and fair.”

Currently, if a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, emergency management specialist, or prison guard is killed or suffers organic brain damage in the line of duty, payment from the Georgia Indemnification Fund will be made to the surviving family members.

Senate Bill 155 outlines who the payments go to first, beginning with the deceased’s spouse, to the deceased’s dependent children in the event there is no surviving spouse, or in the event that there is no surviving spouse or dependent children, equally to the deceased’s surviving dependents, including dependent parents and siblings. In the case of organic brain damage, payment will be made to the legal guardian.

SB 155, also known as the “Jarrett Little Act”, is named in honor of a Walker County and Fort Oglethorpe firefighter who died in January 2009. Little was a single, 23-year-old volunteer firefighter who was killed when the fire truck he was driving overturned on the way to a fire.

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