The untimely deaths of two BART workers on Oct. 19 may lead to wrongful death allegations against the embattled agency, which has been in the midst of a worker strike. The two employees were killed by a BART commuter train as they performed a routine inspection. Other workers with the organization offer up this most recent fatal accident as further proof of BART’s inability to protect its employees, who are often involved in hazardous situations.
This accident happened at about 1:45 p.m. that Saturday, as the pair of workers were responding to reports of track damage between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. They were struck by a train that had an experienced worker at the helm, but it appears that the train was running under automatic computer control at the time of the incident.
Further concerns have arisen about the safety of both passengers and employees on the transit system’s trains, as it appears that department managers have taken over for conductors in the wake of the strike. These managers, who may have operated trains at one time, are not prepared to be on the front lines or managing trains with passengers who rely on their skills for safety. Instead of going through the intensive 15-week training program, many of these managers were given a crash course in a BART warehouse just days before the strike commenced. It is not yet clear whether the managers intend to actually run the trains with passengers; at the time of this incident, the train was simply being moved to prevent the rails from rusting.
Mass transit organizations and other employers in California are responsible for the safety and welfare of their workers. If that trust is violated and an injury or death occurs, the workers and their families can be entitled to civil damages. Those who have family members who have died in workplace accidents may benefit from enlisting the help of a personal injury attorney who can help them learn more about their rights.