Charles Goetsch Law Offices LLC

Second conductor in railroad crash files lawsuit

Connecticut residents may have heard about the 2016 NJ Transit crash that killed one passenger and injured more than 100 others. The impact made part of the station's roof collapse. There were two conductors on that train, both of whom were injured. One sued NJ Transit in June of 2018. The other filed his suit in March of 2019.

Both conductors, being railroad workers, are suing under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Their protection under federal law generally means that railroad workers do not file for workers' compensation. Since NJ Transit is a state agency and enjoys "sovereign immunity," however, it cannot be sued under federal law.

NJ Transit has asked state and federal courts to dismiss lawsuits from dozens of plaintiffs. The two conductors are among 50 victims of the Hoboken Terminal crash who are suing. It remains to be seen how the conductors will fare in court.

The latest lawsuit filer, aged 58, fell to the floor at the moment of the crash, suffering injuries to his shoulder, hip, knee and back as well as incurring emotional trauma. He subsequently had to undergo a seven-hour surgery on his back. The complaint states that his injuries have prevented him from returning to his position as conductor.

As seen above, there are complications that can arise when an injured railroad worker files a FELA claim. Unlike with a workers' compensation claim, a victim must prove that the railroad company was negligent if they are to recover damages. For these and other reasons, it may be a good idea to hire a lawyer before filing a FELA claim. Third parties such as investigators and medical experts may come in to build up the case with the necessary evidence.

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