Workplace Accident Before GA Supreme Court

This blog has discussed the workplace accident problems of the company Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. before (see a previous post here). This week, the Supreme Court of Georgia weighed in on the case of a railroad conductor who was injured in a train accident in Dodge County.

The case is that of William Zeagler who is trying to sue Norfolk Southern for his injuries. In July 2007, Mr. Zeagler, a veteran conductor, was working when the train’s brakeman and engineer realized that a large truck filled with logs wasn’t going to stop at the railroad crossing just ahead of the train. The train was going 35 miles an hour at the time and didn’t have enough time to stop either. As the train was about to hit the truck, Mr. Zeagler felt panicked and unsure what to do, so he tried to jump from the train, tripped over the brakeman, and hit his back and tailbone. Mr. Zeagler has not been able to work since then due to his injuries. The driver of the logging truck died in the crash.

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After the crash, Mr. Zeagler sued Norfolk Southern in Bibb County Superior Court. His lawsuit alleges that Norfolk Southern should have given him training on the proper procedure during an accident, such as sitting and staying low to the floor. He claims he was never trained in emergency procedures. This is an especially important claim since Norfolk Southern has a record of about one accident per day! But the lower court determined that Mr. Zeagler could not sue Norfolk Southern because the company had no duty to provide training and determined there was no evidence that training could have prevented the injuries in the case. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Mr. Zeagler’s case in April. On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its decision, unanimously agreeing with the Court of Appeals against the trial court’s decision. It found that the company had a legal duty to use reasonable care in providing a safe workplace. The Supreme Court decision, written by Judge David Nahmias, stated that a jury should decide whether Norfolk Southern was negligent in not providing emergency training as part of a safe workplace. The Court also noted that more than 2,500 accidents happen at railway crossings in the US each year, showing the seriousness of this issue. This decision means that the case will go back to the trial court for a full trial on the issue, with a jury making a decision about the merits of Mr. Zeagler’s lawsuit.

Atlanta Workplace Accident Attorneys

If you or a family member has suffered due to a workplace accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help get the compensation needed and deserved. For a discussion of your potential case, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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