A CSX employee lost his life after getting struck by a train in the freight railroad's Acca Yard in Henrico County, Virginia (VA). The fatal workplace accident occurred just outside of Richmond on the morning of April 1, 2015.
Few details about the deadly rail yard collision were made available to reporters. CSX officials, federal investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Virginia State Police will spend days or weeks collecting evidence and eyewitness accounts to determine what happened. I know from early 30 years of practice as a Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney specializing in helping railroad employees hurt on the job that rail yards are particularly dangerous places. Even at low speeds, moving locomotives and rail cars are too heavy to stop quickly and too large not to do serious damage when they collide with a person.
Beyond the risks presented by rolling stock, raised tracks, loose ballast -- the crushed stone used as support for rails -- and constantly moving loaders, pickup trucks and tractor-trailers all put rail yard workers in danger. Recognizing this, federal and state regulators impose strong requirements on railroads and shippers to protect vulnerable employers. A full discussion of relevant laws and regulations such as the Safety Appliance Act and Locomotive Safety Inspection Act lies far beyond the scope of this blog post, but it is worth mentioning that rail employees have strong protections under the Federal Employers' Liability Act to file claims for reimbursement of expenses, and settlement of damages, resulting from an injury, illness or death on the job.
Our law firm knows all too well the hardships faced by plaintiffs who bring a railroad injury or wrongful death case. In fact, our attorneys have represented several CSX families following catastrophic injuries and fatal accidents at Richmond-area CSX facilities. During the 1990s, one such rail yard accident caused paralysis to a long-time railroad conductor, and we succeeded in securing a settlement for a significant, confidential amount. We have also successfully represented CSX families after workers were killed during CSX operations.
But those legal matters are sure to be concerns for a later time for the family members of the deceased CSX rail yard worker. The shock and pain from the sudden, unexpected and likely preventable loss of their loved one is undoubtedly overwhelming. I send my deepest condolences out to them.