Train Conductor Sues Employer For Lack Of Safety Training After Tragic Collision

Employers generally have a duty to provide employees with safety training to prevent accidents in the workplace.  Whether employees are driving forklifts, operating dangerous machinery or working in confined spaces, employers must do whatever they can to keep them safe.

Should a railway be required to train its conductors on what to do in a situation where an accident was “about” to happen?  That’s what the Georgia Supreme ordered a jury to decide after a Norfolk Southern train conductor sued the railway for lack of proper safety training following a tragic collision.

One Dead & Several Injured After Train Collides With Log Truck

According to The Telegraph, a Norfolk Southern train was traveling at approximately 35 miles per hour through Dodge County on July 23, 2007.  The train conductor, William Zeagler, along with the train’s brakeman and engineer, saw a log truck traveling at a speed that made them believe that the truck was not going to stop at the train crossing.

Zeagler panicked and tried to jump off the train to avoid injury, but tripped and was unable to jump.  He was seriously injured as the train derailed after colliding with the log truck.  The train’s brakeman and engineer were also seriously injured, and the driver of the log truck died in the accident.

Zeagler sued Norfolk Southern in Bibb County Superior Court, alleging that the railway company should have provided him with safety training on what to do in the case of an impending accident.

The Superior Court judge dismissed his lawsuit, saying that the railway did not have an obligation to provide training and that there was no evidence that any training could have prevented injuries. The case eventually made it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled that Norfolk Southern does have a duty.  According to Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias:

Norfolk Southern has a legal duty to use reasonable care in providing a safe workplace for its employees, which includes providing them with such training as is reasonable regarding how to avoid or reduce injury from reasonably foreseeable workplace hazards.

The recent 43-page ruling places the matter in a jury’s hands to determine whether Norfolk was negligent in not providing a safe workplace in this particular situation, including providing safety training that could have reduced the chances of injury.

Does Your Employer Provide A Safe Workplace?

While many employers are steadfast in providing a safe workplace with training, others do nothing, and most fall somewhere in the middle.  Where Norfolk Southern fits in that spectrum will now be decided by a jury.  However, the railway averages more than one accident every day, indicating that it is not doing everything it can to keep its employees safe.

Employees like Mr. Zeagler who have been hurt on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits – regardless of whether their employer provided safety training.  Workers’ compensation was created to provide medical, rehabilitation and income benefits to workers who are injured or made ill on the job.

Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation administers over 100,000 claims every year that result in hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits paid to injured employees.  Unfortunately, the program doesn’t always work as expected. As it has been adjusted through the years, its rules and regulations have grown increasingly complicated, and many injured workers who deserve benefits simply don’t obtain them without the help of an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney to help them cut through the red tape.

If you’ve been denied workers’ compensation benefits or are dissatisfied with the benefits that have been allocated to you, contact The Mann Law Firm.  For over 50 years, we have been helping people in the Middle Georgia areas of Macon, Dublin, Warner Robins and Milledgeville obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve.  Let our experience help you get what you deserve.

Call us at 855-878-0266 to schedule a free consultation.