The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Lack of Porta-Potty Basis for Wrongful Death Claim Against CSX

When you’re on the job, you’re going to need to use the restroom. It’s just a fact of life. So it’s a reasonable assumption that an employer should provide some sort of bathroom facility. But what happens when a lack of these facilities leads to the death of an employee?

Caroline Burrows has sued CSX Transportation for negligence based on its failure to provide a Porta-Potty or other bathroom facilities at her husband’s jobsite. She claims it was this oversight that caused Bernard Burrows to fall to his death while attempting to relieve himself over the bridge where he was working, according to Courthouse News Service.

Negligence occurs when harm results from the breach of a legal duty. A legal duty may arise from a statute or can be the imparted duty on all adults to act reasonably in their daily lives.

A negligent action or failure to act must be the proximate cause of damage. Proximate cause means that the harm was foreseeable. In other words, the harm would have to be very closely linked to the person’s actions or failure to act.

Here, Burrows claims that CSX’s failure to provide bathroom facilities and inspect the bridge to warn of dangers were negligent acts that lead to the death of her husband.

Analyzing only the claim regarding the failure to provide a toilet, it will probably be difficult to show that the lack of a Porta-Potty proximately caused Mr. Burrow’s fall. This is because he may have had a choice to walk off of the bridge to relieve himself.

However, if that would have been a very far distance and he was on a tight schedule, it could be said that it was foreseeable that he would walk towards the edge of the bridge to take care of business.

While the lack of a toilet claim may not be the strongest, it does seem that the other claims of negligence through failure to provide safety equipment and to assure that earlier bridge repairs had been made properly are worthy of going forward.

All in all, companies need to be aware of all risks that are taken when sending employees into the field to repair their property. CSX Transportation providing a Porta-Potty or bathroom facilities could have prevented an unnecessary death and a wrongful death lawsuit.

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