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You Shouldn't Have To Fight For Workers' Comp Benefits

Injured employee sues Amtrak over crash injuries

Bristol readers have probably all heard about the Amtrak accident that occurred earlier this month in Philadelphia. Though the accident is still under investigation, it reportedly occurred when the train accelerated to 106 miles per hour in an 80 mile per hour zone involving a sharp curve. As a result of the speed and the failure to properly slow down in time, the train tilted and derailed.

A total of eleven passengers were hospitalized as a result of the crash, and Amtrak now faces at least one lawsuit. That lawsuit was filed by an Amtrak dispatcher who was riding in the train as an off-duty employee. The crash allegedly left the man with multiple injuries, some of which are permanent, for which he is seeking $150,000. 

As an employee, the injured worker would normally be eligible for workers’ compensation, but because of the way federal law works with railroad employees, he is not covered by workers’ compensation. This leaves him free to pursue personal injury where he would not be able to as an ordinary injured employee.

One interesting point made in court documents is that the Amtrak worker was riding the train free of charge, but for the “convenience of Amtrak and to promote [its] interstate railroad.” Although the point it moot in this case because the worker is excluded from workers’ comp coverage as a railroad worker, one wonders whether this sort of situation would qualify as a “work-related” injury for an injured worker in another industry. After all, the worker wasn’t working and was receiving a free ride.

In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about this issue and what types of situations qualify as work-related accidents.

Sources:

Russia Today, “Amtrak employee sues rail line over injuries from Philadelphia train crash,” May 15, 2015.

Ring of Fire, “Congress and AmTrak Think They are Fully Protected in the Philadelphia Derailment, But Are They?,” Justin Lane, May 20, 2015. 

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