Norfolk Southern has recently been in the news for devastating train accidents, but a March 8 accident at the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works facility brought the company’s safety culture even further into question. 46-year-old Louis Shuster, a conductor for Norfolk Southern, was killed when a dump truck hauling limestone hit the first car of his train. He was outside of the train car during the collision.
National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration investigate Norfolk Southern
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into Norfolk Southern’s safety culture, thanks to the “number and significance” of recent events. Shuster’s death comes on the heels of February’s East Palestine crash. The company was already being investigated for an October 28 derailment in Sandusky.
Furthermore, the Federal Railroad Administration also announced that it will conduct a 60-day safety review of the company. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “After a series of derailments and the death of one of its workers, we are initiating this further supplemental safety review of Norfolk Southern…”
Workers’ compensation and on-the-job deaths
When an employee is killed at work, their surviving family is eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. These include funeral expenses up to $5,500 as well as two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wages or salary. The payments are distributed between eligible dependents, which usually include the surviving spouse and children under 18 or enrolled full-time in college. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so the family isn’t under any obligation to prove it was accidental or otherwise.
Many surviving family members want to know if they can also file a lawsuit against the employer, when the employer seems to bear some fault. Could Norfolk Southern’s multiple investigations support a personal injury lawsuit?
To sue an employer, you must clear an extremely high legal bar. Plaintiffs must show that their employer committed an intentional tort. Ohio state law provides that “the employer shall not be liable unless the plaintiff proves that the employer committed the tortious act with the intent to injure another or with the belief that the injury was substantially certain to occur.”
It is quite rare to successfully bring a lawsuit against an employer for an on-the-job injury or death. Unless investigations reveal evidence to support an intentional tort claim, most surviving family members will be limited to workers’ compensation benefits.
If your family member has been killed on the job, the Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you claim the benefits to which you’re entitled.
Discuss your claim with an Ohio workers’ compensation attorney
The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your workers’ compensation claim. If you or a loved one were injured on the job, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (800) 556-4769 so that I can evaluate your case right away.