Court Discusses Employer’s Liability in Pedestrian-Railroad Death Case

Losing a loved one is devastating, but it can feel even worse when you feel like the death could have been prevented. If you feel like your loved one’s death was due to another’s negligence, you need to reach out to an experienced Miami wrongful death attorney without delay. At our Law Offices, we are here to answer your questions and address your concerns.

In the recent case of Salerno v. Del Mar Financial Service, an appeals court issued an opinion regarding what duty an employer owes an employee. Ultimately, the court determined that the employer did not owe any duty to the employee and, therefore, could not be held accountable for the employee’s death.

The plaintiff, S.S., worked as a paralegal for a financial services firm. In June of 2013, S.S. became inebriated at work from the alcohol served by the employers. She started getting agitated at other employee and had to be escorted out of the building. As a result of her behavior, her access into the building was rescinded. S.S. began walking home, which was ten miles away. As she was walking along the railroad tracks, she was hit by an oncoming train and instantly killed.

S.S.’s estate filed a wrongful death claim against the defendant employer, arguing that the employer acted negligently by giving S.S. alcohol and then ushering her out without any further help. Negligence occurs when a party causes foreseeable injury by failing to use the level of care that a reasonably prudent party would have used in the same or similar circumstances. The estate contended that it was foreseeable that S.S. would be hit by a train or be involved in a similar accident. The estate also pointed to the fact that the employer knew S.S. was an alcoholic, considering she was obligated to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Florida law covered only “vendors” who can be liable for injuries following a customer’s intoxication. In the case at hand, the employer was not selling drinks at the bar but was giving them away free. The plaintiffs appealed the case.

On appeal, the plaintiff pointed to a string of cases in which an employer was liable for an employee’s harm while the employee was consuming alcohol and doing work-related activities. The court noted, however, the plaintiff was not forced to drink alcohol and was not engaged in any work-related activity while drinking. Moreover, she was not placed in harm’s way, and walking down the railroad track was an act of her own volition, however inebriated she happened to be.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim. At our Law Offices, our seasoned Miami wrongful death attorneys understand the nuances of this area of law and can apply our knowledge to your case. Our team has experience, compassion and knowledge to help you deal with your tragic loss. For a free no obligation consultation, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

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