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Railroad Injury Blog

The Importance Of Underinsured And Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Part of every railroaders daily existence is the process of deadheading from one work location to another. It is important to remember that under the Federal Employers Liability Act, the railroad is required to provide you with a reasonably safe place in which to work. This duty extends to the premises of third parties, including industry yards, hotels and any other place the railroad requires you to be in the furtherance of your work duties. Just like with most other cases, it is important that the railroad be made aware of any dangerous condition you may encounter anyplace you work. This can often make the difference between a successful case and one that is not.

Deadheading

In the context of deadheading, it is important to understand that the van company is considered an agent of the railroad. This means that legally, any negligence of the van or truck is considered to be the negligence of the railroad. Therefore, if the van driver violates a traffic rule or drives negligently, your FELA case would essentially proceed just as if the injury occurred on railroad property. This would also be true if there was some defect in the vehicle that caused or contributed to the accident. The lesson here is that if there is any aspect of the accident that was caused or contributed to by the van driver, it is important that you record that fact. For example, if the van driver was not paying attention due to the fact he appeared to be fatigued so he did not react as quickly as he could have, make sure that this fact is noted in the railroad injury report. That way, even if the main theory of the case is that another driver was negligent, the railroad will still be held in the case as a joint-tortfeasor; meaning that they would be required to pay any verdict in the case.

If You Are Injured In An Accident

However, what happens if the van driver was not negligent and you are injured in an accident? It is clear that you would be “covered” under the FELA, but since the railroad was not negligent, a FELA case would not be successful. Therefore, the only case you may have would be against the driver who caused the accident. What would happen if the van was stopped at a red light and was rear-ended by another vehicle? Since the van driver was not negligent, there would be no chance of a recovery under the FELA. Your only recovery would be against the other driver. That would be fine if the other driver has sufficient liability insurance limits, but what if the other driver only had minimum coverage?

It Could Happen Just Like This…

Consider this scenario. You are in a van that is rear-ended. You injure your neck and have to have surgery and miss two years from work, or maybe cannot ever return to work? The driver who caused the accident only has $20,000 in liability coverage? That means that even if you have lost wages of $250,000, you would receive $20,000 and that is all!

The Best Way To Protect Yourself

How can we avoid this outcome? The only way to protect yourself is to purchase Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage with high limits. I suggest that the limits be at least $1 million. UIM coverage applies when a motor vehicle accident occurs and the negligent driver does not have sufficient liability insurance limits to satisfy the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. The claim is then submitted to your UIM insurance company. If the case does not settle, a lawsuit can be filed just like any other personal injury case. In addition, your insurance rates cannot be increased if you pursue a UIM claim. Having sufficient UIM limits can be the difference between being completely compensated for your losses and losing everything you have worked for in your career.

When You Need Help

Please contact your Smart Transportation Division Designated Legal Counsel Matt Darby at 800-248-FELA or pmdarby@bsgfdlaw.com if you have any questions.

By Matt Darby

Amtrak Injury Report

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Amtrak injury report is called a NRPC 260. It is important that the form be completed accurately and completely. Any information regarding the cause of the injury should be included.

The important sections of the NRPC 260 are:

  • Descibe fully how the accident occurred: In this section, it is important to provide a brief description of what happened.
  • Describe cause of accident: In this section, it is important to list any defective equipment, unsafe conditions or other factors that may have caused or contributed to your injury. Do not include any extra information that is not relevant to the cause of your injury.
  • Describe injury/ Illness: In this section, it is important to list any areas of your body in which you are feeling pain or discomfort. The railroad may argue that any area of your body not listed in this section was not injured in the accident.

It is important to obtain a copy of your report. Refer to the report if questioned at a later time about the injury.

By Matt Darby

OSHA Orders $25,000 In Puntive Damages For Illegal Suspension

Friday, July 27, 2012

On July 25, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a news release indicating that it had ordered Union Pacific Railroad Company to pay a Railroader $25,000.00 in punitive damages for imposing a 10 day suspension for reporting an on-the-job injury. The Railroader suffered a serious injury that included the loss of two teeth and facial lacerations when coupled cars came apart as they were being moved in the yard. OSHA determined that the Railroad imposed the discipline even though the Railroader was not at fault. Charles Adkins, OSHA’s regional adminstrator in Kansas City stated that “While OSHA is best known for ensuring the safety and health of employees, it is also a whistleblower protection agency.”

OSHA’s press release can be found here.

By Matt Darby

OSHA Decision Determines That A Firing In Retaliation For Filing A Whistleblower Claim Is A Serious Violation Of The FRSA

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On March 26, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a decision in a Whistleblower case that requires CSX Transportation to pay punitive damages for dismissing a Railroader for filing a claim under the FRSA that alleged that he had been disciplined for raising various safety issues.

The case involved a dispatcher who was involved in a near miss incident that involved the misrouting of two trains. After the incident, the dispatcher cooperated in a meeting that involved CSXT and the FRA. During that meeting, the dispatcher raised various safety issues that he felt contributed to the near miss incident. The dispatcher was subsequently fired by CSXT. He then, with the approval of CSXT, exercised his seniority rights so that he could return to his previous craft within the Track Department. On his first day back to work as a trackman, he was fired. This was one day after CSXT received notification that he had filed a claim under the FRSA for his dismissal in connection with the near miss incident and its subsequent investigation.

CSXT was ordered to pay punitive damages in the amount of $100,000.00 for its dismissal of the Railroader. The OSHA opinion regarding that award indicated as follows:

“Respondent’s (CSXT) conduct in retaliation against an employee for filing a FRSA complaint with OSHA exhibited reckless disregard for the law and complete indifference to Complainant’s rights and the rights of Respondent’s other employees. Discharging an employee for claiming violations of FRSA functions to chill employees from exercising their most basic rights under FRSA.”

By Matt Darby

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