Jose A. Salazar, a 52-year-old worker, has filed a negligence lawsuit against Caltrain alleging that the agency did not provide a safe work environment. Salazar suffered a fractured skull and a broken back after fellow workers hit him with a 39-foot long, 1,768 pound section of steel track while performing railroad work in South San Francisco. Salazar was in a month-long coma after the Nov. 8 accident, but the extent of his recovery or his prognosis is not known.
Workers Were Negligent, Suit States
On the day of the injury, Salazar and some of his co-workers were fixing a damaged section of rail north of the South San Francisco Caltrain station. A piece of rail struck him after the workers lost control while lifting it. Salazar was eventually pinned to the ground.
In addition to his head and back injuries, he also sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lacerated spleen. Salazar alleges in his complaint that fellow workers did not use proper procedures or equipment while moving the rail.
He stated in the lawsuit that they should have used a machine such as a Speed Swing to lift the rail. Salazar was an employee of TransitAmerica Services Inc. that was hired by Caltrain to operate its commuter rail system from San Francisco to Gilroy. TransitAmerica was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit in addition to Union Pacific Railroad Company, which also uses the track where this injury at work took place.
Compensation for Seriously Injured Workers
Under California and federal laws, employers are required to provide a safe working environment for their employees and ensure that all workers receive proper job and safety training. In this particular case, it appears that Salazar suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of workers possibly not following proper safety standards. It is not clear why they failed to utilize a device to safely carry the rail and whether they were supervised at the time.
In such cases injured workers can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. In addition, workers may also be eligible to file a third-party claim against parties other than the employer whose negligence may have caused or contributed to the incident.
An experienced California personal injury lawyer will be able to guide injured workers and their families through what can be a complicated legal process and help them obtain fair compensation for their losses.