Railroads Must Protect Bridges and Ditches with Better Markings For Night-time Work | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Our personal injury law firm, based in Virginia, is currently handling a case where a railroad worker, who was sent into a  new geographical work area, was not warned that he was dismounting and getting off his train in pitch darkenss virtually right on top of a bridge over a  ditch/water run off area.  When he attempted to dismount the train, he landed not on firm railroad ballast, but dropped 15 feet into a ditch with a running stream.  The worker suffered a fracture of his pelvis and permanent injuries.  His case is pending.  I inspected the injury area.  At night the bridge/culvert area was pitch black.  No signs of any nature warned of the bridge or elevated area.  A walkway beside the track was built on only one side of the bridge also.

Railroads like Norfolk Southern (NS) or CSX have various maintenance of way procedures that specify track structure around bridges, culverts and ditches. However, the rules relating to workers such as conductors and engineers working in or near bridges have some less then desirable protections.  For example, there are numerous small ditches, culverts, and the equivalent of bridges on many areas of railroad track, but there are apparently no uniform systems of having some visible marker that is like a reflective landmark so a worker working in the area realizes that there’s a small bridge or culvert near by.  This does not require an electrical source.  Reflective paint, and even a simple solar panel can illuminate a marker. If you have been involved in any type of injury involving a bridge, culvert or marking relating on the railroad, our firm can assist you.  Please call us for a free initial consultation.