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BART hit with stiff fines for 2 2013 employee deaths

It's been three years since two workers died after being struck by a BART train in Walnut Creek. Now, BART could have to pay stiff fines regarding its neglect of safety protocols, which led to the fatal incident. The tragic Oct. 19, 2013, BART crash resulted in the deaths of two BART workers aged 58 and 66.

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, BART could be required to pay fines in the amount of $500 to $50,000 for each day that the violations have been present. BART could also be required to pay $210,000 in Cal-OSHA fines.

BART has already appealed the Cal-OSHA investigation findings and associated fines. However, the recent CPUC investigation has revealed new information surrounding the incident -- particularly, information that points to the fact that the operator of the train had been using his cell phone throughout the day. Now, the CPUC is challenging BART to disprove its findings.

Although BART has yet to pay the above fines, the organization has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with one of the victims' families. Furthermore, it is likely that both families of the victims -- if they had close dependents -- have been eligible to receive workers' compensation death benefits for the loss of their family members.

Questions about fault and liability -- while of important concern for the legal process and determining how to make workplaces safer -- are not usually important for the purposes of filing a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation insurance is no fault, so it doesn't matter if the worker or the employer's error caused a particular accident. What matters is how injured the worker is and whether the injury happened while the employee was performing his or her job duties.

Source: East Bay Times, "BART could face additional fines for 2013 worker deaths," Erin Baldassari, Sep. 08, 2016

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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