The historic flooding that has swept through South Carolina has brought with it widespread property damage to homes, vehicles, and personal belongings as well as at least 17 deaths and other injuries. In Richland County, two out-of-state workers were killed when their truck crashed into a creek that was underneath a 20-foot section of road that had been washed away.
The accident occurred on the night of October 6, when a truck carrying five railroad contractors drove past a barricade in rural Richland County. The truck crashed into the creek with all of the men inside. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department attempted to rescue the men in an effort that was complicated by the nighttime conditions, but only three men survived the accident. The five contractors were part of a team deployed for Norfolk Southern in the region to work on repairing rail lines damaged in the flooding. The men had been on their way back to a hotel after leaving their work site when the accident occurred.
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department believed the accident was preventable and urged others to take caution in driving the flood-ravaged roads and to honor curfews. A spokesman for R.J. Corman Railroad Group, the company employing the contractors, disputed the report that the workers drove around a barricade leading to the crash, and said the company believes that an investigation into the accident will show that there was inadequate warning provided for the deadly road conditions.
This tragic case will no doubt lead to legal questions over which parties may be held liable for the deaths of the workers and how their families should be compensated. Because the men were returning from a work site and were indeed in the state for the primary purpose of carrying out their work duties, it is possible that workers’ compensation law will play a part in determining liability. In addition, because one of the deceased workers resided in Ohio and another in Kentucky, while their employer was based in Kentucky and the accident occurred in South Carolina, there may be complicated legal questions over which state’s workers’ compensation and/or personal injury laws may apply to potential claims, and which state tribunals will have jurisdiction. Finally, as the company’s dispute of the Sheriff’s Department report indicates, there appears to be questions of fault with regard to which parties may ultimately be found to have played in a part in the truck accident.
When workers are injured or killed in an accident, it is important to have experienced legal counsel who can guide you and your family through these difficult questions and get you the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, reach out to the seasoned Columbia workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at Peake & Fowler for a no-cost consultation on your potential legal claim. Call us at (800) 946-9461 or by using our website contact form.