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Supreme Court to hear FELA case

Workers in Connecticut may be interested in learning that the United States Supreme Court has added to its docket for next term a case that partly pertains to the Federal Employees Liability Act, or FELA. The issue that has to be decided in the case is whether the payments made by a railway company, which was mandated by the court to pay an employee for time taken away from work, are to be assessed employment taxes according to the Railroad Retirement Tax Act, or RRTA.

The employee had worked for the company as a switchman, brakeman and conductor for 15 years. The man sustained a workplace injury in 2010 and was terminated for attendance violations that stemmed from that injury. In addition, the employee also was assessed an attendance violation for absences that occurred while he was testifying against the company in a case filed by two co-workers who alleged that their terminations were retaliatory.

Union Pacific the top railroad for employee safety

Anyone in Connecticut who works on railroads should know which company is the safest. According to data from the Federal Railroad Administration, it appears that Union Pacific is the safest of the seven U.S. Class 1 railroads. In fact, Union Pacific has been considered the top railroad for employee safety for three years in a row.

The railroad company had a 0.79 reportable injury rate in 2017, which is high when compared to the 0.78 injury rate in 2016 but a clear improvement over the 0.88 injury rate in 2015. This injury rate refers to the total number of injuries per 200,000 employee work hours.

Investigation concludes Amtrak sped through work zone

In April 2016, people across Connecticut and the United State were shocked when an Amtrak train traveling at high speeds southbound in Philadelphia slammed into construction equipment on the tracks, leaving two track workers dead and more than 39 people wounded. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, recommended that Amtrak needed to slow its trains down when traveling past construction zones. The passenger train service reportedly failed to heed the advice and didn't respond to the safety recommendations.

Just two years later in April 2018, a similar accident occurred in Bowie, Maryland, leaving one Amtrak watchman dead. No passengers were injured in the incident. Though no work zone signs were posted at the site of the incident, the train was traveling at a high rate of speed. Investigators are currently determining the role that speed played in the incident.

OSHA to host meetings on railroad whistleblower issues

Railroad workers face a variety of dangers on the job. The heavy machinery, the trains and whatever they carry present unique risks. It’s a labor-intensive job and it’s common for workers to be injured on the job. While injuries may be a part of the job, it’s up to employers to do everything they can to prevent them.

About FELA

The Federal Employers Liability Act is legislation rail employees in Connecticut and the rest of nation can used to recover financial damages from their employer for injuries that occur in the workplace. It takes precedence over state laws and requires that the injured party prove that the employer was negligent. The legislation also requires that any financial settlements that are awarded be reduced in proportion to the employee's failure to adhere to workplace safety policies.

Most railroad workplace injury settlements are awarded voluntarily. However, some cases spend at least five years in the judicial system due to disputes regarding the amount of the award, legal expenses associated with the railroad's defense and the combative nature of litigation.

What to know about FELA claims

Railroad workers in Connecticut and throughout the country are generally covered by FELA if they are injured on the job. As soon as possible after the injury occurs, a worker should report it to an employer. The employer will then ask the injured employee to fill out an accident report. In addition to notifying the railroad company about the accident, the victim should contact an attorney.

Both the worker's attorney and the railroad company will begin an investigation into the accident. Once each side has been able to gather as much information about the accident as possible, settlement talks will begin. It is important to note that an injured worker is under no obligation to take the first or any offer received during such talks. If settlement talks don't work, a formal trial will be convened. However, a judge may order settlement talks to continue before allowing the trial to proceed.

Court combines worker injury lawsuits against railroad companies

A former railroad mechanic and machinist from New York has become the lead plaintiff in a case against CSX Transportation, Inc. and Consolidated Rail Corporation. The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas chose to combine two separate lawsuits from railroad workers alleging that unsafe work environments at the companies caused their workplace injuries.

The lead plaintiff over the course of his career worked at both companies. He said that his duties forced him into awkward positions and required frequent heavy lifting. His musculoskeletal injuries affect his shoulders, cervical spine and lumbar spine. His legal complaint details problems such as inadequate supervision, lack of manpower and insufficient tools.

How to file a proper FELA claim

Railroad workers in Connecticut and around the country are protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act. When an injury occurs, employees should make a report and seek treatment in a timely manner. Ideally, the report will be filled out as accurately as possible and to the extent that an individual's injuries allows that person to. As part of the treatment process, workers should see their own doctor after being seen by hospital or other emergency medical staff.

While recovering, an injured worker should keep track of any time that was missed from work. This includes the day of the accident as well as any time missed because of a doctor's appointment or other time spent rehabbing from the injury. In addition to the report issued to the employer, a personal report should be written by an injured worker. This report can be used by a worker's attorney as he or she pursues compensation.

Railroad work and risk in the Northeast

Railroad work has a long history in this country. In building the arteries of the nation, workers faced risk, injury and even death. It led to the Federal Employers Liability Act in 1908, which still regulates the industry over a century later.

The work itself involves heavy machinery, close contact with moving trains and exposure to chemicals and harmful substances. While the hazards may be more plentiful than an office job, it’s any employer’s responsibility to provide as safe a workspace as possible. Injuries might happen, but many are avoidable.

4 sent to the hospital following railroad train collision

New York railroad workers may have heard that on March 18, four people were taken to a hospital in Kentucky after a two-train collision occurred. The two trains were traveling just north of Lexington when they collided with each other at about 11 p.m., causing both locomotives and 13 train cars to derail and catch fire.

There were four engineers who were traveling on the trains. They were all taken to a nearby hospital for examination. Three of the engineers were released after it was determined that they had not suffered any injuries. The fourth engineer remained hospitalized, though his or her condition was not reported. The derailment caused a fire and what was thought to possibly be a potential chemical spill, though the chemicals turned out to be diesel fuel and vegetable oil.

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