In August 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew a proposal that would have made it a rule for all train operators to undergo sleep apnea testing. Most people in Connecticut, as elsewhere in the U.S., are probably aware that railway accidents have been on the rise lately, so the DoT’s decision seems to be an inexplicable one.
Senator Chuck Schumer recently expressed concern over the decision and has urged the federal government to reconsider its position. This comes after investigations of several train crashes revealed that the engineers were suffering from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition and can prevent one from getting continuous sleep; this means more workers have to constantly fight off drowsiness.
Testing for sleep apnea can allow companies to take appropriate measures to keep fatigued workers from endangering others. In support of his position, Senator Schumer quoted from the board chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency responsible for all investigations of transportation accidents. The NTSB claims that a September 2017 train crash in New Jersey as well as a January 2017 Long Island train crash could have been prevented if testing rules were in place.
Railroad employees, unlike those in other industries, do not receive benefits through workers compensation; instead, they’re covered under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Filing for FELA claims is different from filing for workers comp, so victims of train accidents may want to hire an attorney who focuses on this field of personal injury law.
Victims can only be eligible for FELA claims if the accident resulted from the railroad company’s negligence. Secondly, victims will receive a lower settlement depending on the degree to which they themselves were negligent. A lawyer may be able to estimate a fair settlement, gather the necessary evidence and proceed to negotiations or to litigation.