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Railroad Injury Law Blog

Railroad accidents have plagued the nation for decades

In 1950, a locomotive disaster left many throughout the nation horrified and grief-stricken. It occurred on a Wednesday just one day before Thanksgiving and was later labeled the worst train wreck in the history of that particular railroad. Railroad accidents in Connecticut and elsewhere often result in fatalities; those who survive their injuries are often left permanently disabled.

On that evening long ago, thousands of train passengers were navigating the rail system as they looked forward to an extended holiday weekend. The scene abruptly changed from one of excitement to devastation when a train smashed into a disabled locomotive on the tracks. Sadly, 80 train occupants were crushed to death upon impact.

Need help navigating the railroad disability benefits process?

News stories over the past few years have often included horrific details of train accidents in various parts of the United States. Many such accidents involve passengers and/or pedestrians; others involve workers themselves. If a recovering injured railroad worker in Connecticut is unable to return to his or her particular workplace duties, he or she may be able to claim railroad disability benefits to help make ends meet in the meantime.

This type of benefit is typically paid through a bi-weekly system. Not every worker receiving railroad disability benefits was injured in a train wreck. Benefits may also go to those who are too ill to work or pregnant workers temporarily unable to fulfill their duties.

Workers can seek employer accountability after railroad accidents

In April 2016, an Amtrak engineer was on duty. Just before 8 a.m., the man operating a train saw a potential hazard on the tracks ahead of him. There was an accident and the man suffered severe emotional trauma and subsequent disability that he says was the result of the incident. As has occurred following other Connecticut railroad accidents in the past, the man has sought legal accountability against his employer.

As it turns out, what the engineer saw on the tracks that day was a backhoe. Surprisingly, it was in operation on the exact same track as the moving locomotive. At that point in time, the train was reportedly soaring at 106 mph. The engineer thrust the train into emergency mode and laid on the horn.

How response time may affect railroad worker injuries

Many Connecticut residents recently joined others throughout the nation in viewing a complete solar eclipse. In southern areas that were in the direct path of the projected orbit map, many say complete darkness encompassed their towns for several minutes. In one state, the darkness factor, as well as negligence, is being blamed as causal factors in a disastrous train accident that resulted in railroad worker injuries.

A union representative slammed CSX railroad leaders, saying the company often places production ahead of worker safety. The union has stated that no workers scheduled to run shifts during the eclipse were given any special training regarding lighting or instruction to stop moving during the darkest moments of the eclipse. One worker's life has been forever changed after he was severely injured in a train crash that took place when darkness fell over the area.

Railroad work plus injury equals FELA process

If you work on a Connecticut railroad and you suffer injury during the normal course of your workplace duties, the workers' compensation process will help you get the benefits to which you are entitled, right? Wrong! Railroad workers find protection under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which is the process you would need to follow to report an injury and get the help you need. Swift action is often the key to securing the compensation to which you may be entitled following a railroad accident.

Your injuries may be so severe that you aren't able to take care of logistics to contact appropriate officials, file paperwork and other aspects of the FELA process. If you are able to act on your own behalf in the near aftermath of your accident, the sooner you get the process started, the better.

Falls from locomotives frequent cause of railroad worker injuries

Trains may be larger than many Connecticut residents think, especially if they don't have much firsthand experience with these massive machines. Working on a railroad is considered risky business, and many railroad worker injuries are suffered when workers fall from atop their standing positions on locomotive equipment. If a train happens to be moving when a fall occurs, the results are often disastrous.

When railroad workers suffer injuries on the job, the process they undergo to report the incidents and obtain benefits is a bit different from workers in other industries. This is because the Federal Employers Liability Act allows injured railroad workers to sue their employers for negligence. This means that an individual or railroad company can be held legally accountable for any medical bills or expenses a worker incurs in relation to a railroad accident, including pain and suffering.

Outcomes in litigation re railroad accidents vary by incident

Anyone who works or has worked on a Connecticut railroad likely understands the tremendous risks often involved in such work. Railroad work is considered one of the most dangerous lines of work in the nation; however, not all railroad accidents involve railroad employees. Sometimes, others nearby, such as pedestrians, are injured as well.

In the aftermath of a railroad accident, several things might occur. First, if anyone suffered moderate to severe injury, there may be a lengthy recovery period; in fact, many railroad collisions result in catastrophic injuries where those affected never fully physically recover. In such situations, when another party or parties is deemed negligent, litigation is often pursued.

Railroad accidents involving pedestrians especially tragic

There are many dangers along Connecticut railways. Those who work on the railroad are at great risk for injuries as this type of work is among the most dangerous in the nation. However, not only employees may suffer injuries when railroad accidents occur; passengers, and even pedestrians in the area might as well.

When a pedestrian is struck by a moving train, the chances of survival are slim. In cases where a train accident victim does survive, the injuries suffered are often catastrophic and permanently debilitating. Such situations often necessitate repeated medical treatments and lifelong assisted living care.

Spouse of deceased victim says railroad accidents still a risk

In 2015, there was a tragedy in a state neighboring Connecticut that resulted in six fatalities. Since then, the spouse of one of the victims (a woman whose car had gotten stuck on the tracks and was hit by a fast-moving train) has been lobbying with several government officials, seeking safety upgrades that he says may have saved his wife's life had they been implemented at the time of the crash. When railroad accidents like this one occur, the National Transportation Safety Board investigates. State statutes also provide for a safety study, which at this point is five months overdue.

That time has come and gone in this instance, and no report has been filed. The husband of one of the victims says that is unacceptable and until something is done, lives remain at risk. There are at least 5,000 grade crossings similar to the one where the accident occurred in that particular state, and upgrades have not been made on most of them in the past half to full century.

New rail chief says it's the end of the line for naps

Who doesn't like a little shut-eye in the afternoon? If you've put in a few hours of hard work or driven a long distance, a cat-nap can be just refreshing enough to keep you going strong for the rest of the day. Not many people have the luxury of taking a nap on the job, though.

It used to be that, if you were an engineer for CSX Corp., you could take a nap break under certain conditions. However, the new rail chief hired this March has made some drastic changes in the company, and one of them is to eliminate napping. Some question whether this new policy will create a workplace environment that is safer or more dangerous.