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Officials say negligence caused fatal railroad worker injuries


Connecticut railroad workers will be interested to learn that the National Transportation Safety Board has released a report stating that human error is to blame for a tragic railroad accident that occurred last year in another state. Railroad worker injuries proved fatal for two people when a BNSF railway train hit workers who had been clearing  ice and snow from the tracks. A third person who had been working alongside the other two employees survived the incident.

The NTSB’s report clearly states that proper equipment was not provided to the worker who was the acting lookout when the tragedy occurred. In fact, investigators say there should have been more than one lookout for this particular section of track. BNSF is accused of not following National Transportation Safety Board regulations.

One of the men had been with the company for 39 years. Another had 10 years of service under his belt when a train traveling at 35 mph struck and killed him. An NTSB spokesperson said such accidents are generally highly preventable and are often caused when railroad employers fail in their obligations to keep their workers safe.

Connecticut railroad worker injuries are not processed through workers’ compensation, as in most other types of jobs. Instead, workers are protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act. FELA operates differently than workers’ compensation, and requires that the employee (or the surviving family of a deceased worker) prove employer negligence before any monetary damages are awarded. Once accomplished, however, the damages awarded can include pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in cases where gross negligence has been documented.

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