Can Nuances of an Employee’s Account of an at-Work Accident Filed in an Accident Report Negate Compensation Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act?

Robinson v. CSX Transportation, Inc.-Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals

This story brought to you by Canan Law, the most respected team of attorneys in St. Augustine.

James Robinson was injured at work when the CSX Transportation, Inc. train he was conducting struck a tractor-trailer rig at a public railroad crossing. The truck entered the crossing without heeding the activated warning signals indicating Robinson’s oncoming train.

Robinson filed suit against CSX under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

Robinson’s accident report filed with his employer immediately following the accident cited the truck driver as being at fault for the accident.

On the accident report form, Robinson also noted that his employer failed to provide him with specialized safety equipment, including a backup hose or a shoving platform, for the maneuver he was performing at the time of the collision: a shoving movement of 16 cars through a public crossing. Although Robinson and other CSX employees proffered that shoving platforms and backup hoses are regularly used during the type of maneuver Robinson was performing, the trial court excluded the safety equipment evidence on the basis that no witnesses proffered that either tool was routinely used and readily available at the railroad yard on the day of the accident.

The jury was not made aware of Robinson’s notation of unavailable safety equipment on the accident report.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of CSX.

Robinson appealed the verdict, and the Fifth District Court of Appeals reviewed the trial court’s exclusion of evidence for an abuse of discretion.

The appeals court found that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence about the safety equipment. Citing case law, the court pointed out that CSX breached its responsibility to provide a reasonably safe workplace because safer alternatives for Robinson’s duties existed at the time of his accident, even though they were not provided to him.

The appeals court also found that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the jury to see only a portion of Robinson’s accident report. This gave the jury a distorted view of his account, making it appear as if he placed blame only on the truck driver.

The court reversed the judgment entered in favor of CSX and remanded for a new trial.

One of our primary goals at Canan Law is to prevent you from becoming injured twice. The right legal counsel ensures that you understand all of your legal options after an accident, injury, or unfair treatment, and aggressively represents you in and out of court.

Patrick Canan and the team of attorneys at Canan Law in St. Augustine possess the experience and resources to gain for their clients the most favorable result in the most timely manner possible to get their lives back on track following one of life’s imperfections.

Canan Law, the most respected team of attorneys in St. Augustine, keeps you informed with blog posts discussing legal terms and Florida court cases that matter to you. Ask your legal question today with our website’s live chat feature!


Hear From Past Clients

    He Earned My Respect & Trust

    “Andrew came highly recommended by a friend who is a lawyer. In the courtroom, he is incredibly prepared. In giving advice, he steers his clients down the right road. I feel like was looking out for my best interest.”

    - Chip S.
    Very Grateful

    “Everyone at Canan Law was friendly and hospitable. Attorney John Westfield was very professional. He listened very well and always had our best interests in mind. Most importantly, he was prepared in court.”

    - Markell F.
    Thank You For Everything You Have Done

    “Their entire team was very professional and knowledgeable about my specific case. They took time to explain in detail what they were doing every step of the way. I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the end result.”

    - Hamid B.
    I Couldn't Be Happier

    “A wealth of talent at this firm. Responsive and direct; they valued my time and money. My outcome was exactly what I expected despite the many changes that I presented them.”

    - Steve K.
    Very Pleased with Every Aspect

    “I was very pleased with every aspect of Canan Law. They walked us through a difficult situation and were available and courteous throughout. I felt they heard and understood me.”

    - Dana P.

The Firm You Can Trust

Put Our Team On Your Side Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.