A Norfolk Southern engineer suffered serious, but not life-threatening, injuries when the freight train he was crewing near Laurel, Mississippi (MS), derailed early in the morning of June 25, 2014. The cause for several of the rail cars jumping the tracks near a crossing with Highway 13 could not be immediately determined. The railroad worker hurt in the accident was transported to a hospital, and he is expected to recover.
Every derailment puts train crew members at risk for injuries and death. Causes for such wrecks can range from defective equipment to track damage, poor maintenance, dangerous weather conditions and negligence or recklessness. Regardless, there is no safe way for a vehicle the size and weight of a NS freight train to leave its tracks.
As a Virginia and North Carolina personal injury attorney, I have helped many rail employees all throughout the southern United States hold their employers accountable for creating and failing to mitigate dangerous working conditions and situations. I know that engineers, brakemen, rail maintenance personnel and rail yard staff put their lives and health at risk on an almost daily basis.
If the company that owns the tracks where this Mississippi derailment occurred failed to keep the rail bed in proper condition, the injured engineer would have a strong case to make for recovering compensation under an employee protection law like FELA, the Federal Employers Liability Act. In claims against railroad employers by employees, the railroad is responsible for the negligence of any third-party the railroad contracts with to assist it with its operations. Also, if the employing railroad should have known of the poor condition of the track, the employer is liable along with the third-party owner for negligent maintenance. In cases involving third-party operations, then, a worker would be well advised to consult with a lawyer who specializes in representing rail workers who get hurt on the job.
However the incident proceeds, I offer the injured man my wishes for a complete and speedy return to health.