Railroad workers in New York face many hazards while on the job. However, they understandably expect their employers to mitigate these risks by strictly enforcing regulations laid down by federal workplace safety laws. This is what led a switchman employed by the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to file a lawsuit against his employer after he was struck and injured by a locomotive while moving railroad cars in March 2017. A federal judge ruled on Aug. 9 that the case could proceed to trial.
Attorneys representing the injured railroad worker had filed a motion seeking summary judgment alleging that NOPB had acted negligently by violating regulations established by the Federal Railroad Safety Act and their own internal safety protocols. The judge hearing the case granted summary judgment and ruled that comparative fault rules should not apply only when the jury determines that NOPB's internal safety rules were ignored.
The lawsuit alleges that crew members failed to use their train's horns or other audible devices to warn railroad workers when they were moving. The worker also claims that train and crew members used radios operating on different frequencies. NOPD attorneys blame the switchman for the accident. They say that he positioned himself in a way that prevented train operators from seeing him.
Railroads are required by federal law to provide their employees with reasonably safe workplaces, and their workers may pursue FELA claims when this duty of care is not met and they are injured as a result. When attorneys with experience in this area file such claims, they may seek compensation for an injured railroad worker's lost income, medical expenses and pain and suffering.