Railroad Accidents

Morrow & Sheppard are privileged to represent individuals injured or family members who have lost loved ones in accidents involving railroads. Please click here for a free, confidential consultation before your rights are jeopardized by a corporation, employer, or insurance company.

The Federal Employers Liability Act (“FELA”), codified at 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. is a United States federal law that protects railroad workers that are injured on the job. Under FELA, an injured railroad worker can sue in state or federal court. Under FELA, an injured employee is entitled to recover damages if his employer was in any way negligent, no matter how slight. Thus, if an employer was just 1% negligent and just 1% at fault for a railroad injury, the injured employee has a right to damages. Moreover, if the employer is shown to have violated a federal safety statute, no further negligence needs to be proven, and the injured employee has a right to damages. The stated purpose of FELA is to promote safety in every area of railroad operation. FELA imposes a requirement on railroad to provide a safe environment for its employees to work.

For over 100 years, railroads have been critical to our country’s economy and transportation systems. However, railroads are incredibly dangerous. The injury rate for workers associated with railroads is approximately double the rate for ordinary industry sectors. In other words, if you work for railroads—particularly as a brake, signal, or switch operator—you are more than twice as likely to be injured on the job. Making matters worse, injuries sustained at the railyard are often severe. This is not surprising. A single empty railcar typically can weigh 25-30 tons.

From 1993 to 2002, there were an astounding 1,221 fatal railroad-related incidents. Common causes of railroad related deaths include:

  • Crashes involving only railcars
  • Crashes involving railcars and non-railcars, such as cars at railroad crossings
  • Falls
  • Pedestrians (both railworkers and non-railworkers) struck
  • Being struck by moving objects

Common activities of railroad workers that can lead to serious injury or death include:

  • Maintaining the railroad
  • Constructing the railroad
  • Crossing railroads
  • Loading railcars
  • Operating railcar brakes and switches
  • Re-routing cars at the railyard
  • Setting warning signals
  • Signaling locomotive conductors
  • Coupling and uncoupling cars
  • Inspecting railcars, couplings, airhoses, handbrakes, etc.

The following types of damages may be available if you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a railroad:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity. These types of damages arise when someone can return to work after an injury, but not in the same capacity as before the accident.
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Shame and humiliation

Under FELA, there is no minimum or maximum limit to the amount of damages that may be awarded by a judge or jury.

If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury in an accident involving a railroad, we can help. Please click here for a free, confidential consultation before your rights are jeopardized by a corporation, employer, or insurance company.

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