The Lietz Law Firm Personal Injury Attorney Says BART Train Deaths Raise Many Questions

Law Firm Newswire



Washington, D.C. (Law Firm Newswire) November 26, 2013 – Two transit workers were struck and killed by a commuter train just outside San Francisco on a recent Saturday afternoon.

The workers were hit just before 2 p.m. near a station in Walnut Creek, some 20 miles east of the city. The train that struck them was out of service and on a maintenance run. One of the men was an employee of the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, system. The other was an employee of a third-party contractor. Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney David Lietz, who is not involved in the case, said that transit workers have a reasonable expectation of safety while on the job.

“There is a certain amount of risk inherent in working around trains,” Lietz said. “However, no transit worker goes to work in the morning feeling their life is on the line. An accident like this says something went grossly wrong. Investigators owe it to the families of the deceased, as well as all other BART workers, to find out what happened and develop policies to prevent it from happening again.”

On the Friday before the accident, BART employees went on strike after weeklong negotiations broke down. Two worker unions and BART management were unable to reach an agreement on policies concerning overtime pay and workday length.

At a news conference hours after the accident, BART officials said that although “a number of personnel” were on the train, it was under automatic computer control at the time of the accident. Officials said that an “experienced operator” was overseeing the computer controls. Officials declined to name the individual.

An earlier report from the Associated Press said that BART managers were engaged in moving trains for maintenance operations during the strike. The labor unions had warned of possible safety risks if managers were permitted to operate trains.

“A transit manager in operation of a train is probably a former driver with some level of experience at the controls,” Lietz added. “But how long has it been since he or she engaged in actually driving a train? This is the type of question that investigators need to ask.”

The last BART employee death on the job happened in 2008, when 44-year-old structures inspector James Strickland was struck by a train while walking on the track.