Individuals who work in the presence of heavy machinery face an ongoing chance of suffering a serious injury. While employers have instituted numerous safety precautions and required employees to use various safety devices, the devices sometimes fail or are not used at all. A worker for the BNSF Railway Co. recently recovered a $1.63 million verdict from a Bakersfield jury based on the railroad's failure to follow standard workplace safety procedures.
The 45-year-old employee alleged that he was struck by an 83-pound rail rack when it slipped from the deck of a flatbed trailer where he was working. The worker testified that the rack had not been properly secured on the truck's deck by steel safety pins that are used across the industry to hold heavy equipment in place. Moreover, the railroad admitted during the trial that the grapple truck, a piece of equipment used to manipulate heavy loads, had not been properly secured. The railroad argued that the missing pins had nothing to do with the accident.
The worker claimed that he has suffered back, head and leg injuries. At trial, the plaintiff's attorney told the jury that these injuries were permanent and would prevent him from obtaining a job with similar pay and benefits. The jury deliberated 48 hours before returning its verdict in the plaintiff's favor. Attorneys for BNSF have not stated whether their client intends to appeal the verdict.
This case provides vivid evidence of the consequences of ignoring safety precautions. Anyone who has suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident caused by an employer who fails to obey safety rules or procedures may want to get more information about seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, lost future income and pain and suffering.