Jim Boyle Dec. 1, 2014, 10:38am


An Amtrak employee says that his supervisors did not follow the established safety protocols that could have prevented a train striking him while he worked on one of the company's tracks in Virginia, according to a personal injury suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

David Hilliard, of Woodbridge, Va., seeks damages in excess of $150,000 against the Philadelphia-based National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, claiming the company negligently allowed a hazardous condition to exist at the time of the accident.

According to the complaint, on April 9, 2014, Hilliard was performing his duties as an equipment operator on a track at the Washington terminal in Virginia. The claim says that prior to an employee starting work on a live track, also known as fouling a track, a safety briefing is required. The plaintiff says that no such meeting took place.

The suit also says that the job watchmen and foreman were engaged in conversation at the time of the accident, with one watchman's back turned against train movement. Safety guidelines say that watchmen must signal that a train is approaching by sounding an audible warning and raising an orange disc or approved light over head. When it is safe to resume work, the watch men must lower the disc or light to shoulder length, hold it momentarily, then lower it completely.

Protocols give an employee the right to refuse the watchman assignment if they do not have the proper equipment to perform the job. According to the complaint, the watchman did not have an air horn when the foreman made the assignment, and the foreman failed to provide the necessary equipment.

The claim says that more safety guidelines were allegedly ignored when a flag or barricade was not placed on the closed track and when the foreman's safety qualifications were not kept up-to-date.

As a result of the accident, Hilliard suffered severe internal and external injuries to his head, neck, torso and lower body, some that may be permanent in nature. His earning potential has been drastically limited by the injuries while his medical expenses continue to rise during his recovery.

The plaintiff is represented by James Duckworth of Keller & Goggin.

The federal case ID is 2:14-cv-06713-CDJ.

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