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Health Hazards of Working Around Diesel Engines

In 1890 the first patent for a diesel engine was issued. Over the next century, more and more industries incorporated this type of engine in equipment and vehicles. One of the main reasons for its popularity was that diesel engines were more energy efficient than engines that ran on gasoline.

Diesel fuel releases less CO2 carbon emissions than gasoline fuel. This is why it became so popular, especially in Europe where the majority of vehicles run on diesel fuel. However, what diesel does emit is Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), which has created a massive pollution problem in many European countries, causing serious health risks.

Diesel engines are used in the majority of vehicles used in the transportation industry, from locomotives to trucks. But multiple studies have concluded that prolonged exposure to the particles and fumes produced by diesel fuel has a hazardous impact on those who work around it.




And just like other types of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, workers who worked closely with and around diesel were the last to be told of the risks they were being exposed to day in and day out. One of these hazards was the link between lung cancer and diesel fumes.

According to studies conducted by the America Cancer Society, diesel fumes, such as soot, can change the DNA of a cell, leading to cancer. Other studies have found that workers who work around diesel fumes have a higher risk of developing cancer. Some of the professions cited in these studies include railroad workers, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, and miners. Similar conclusions have been found by studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you are exposed to diesel fumes on a regular basis because of your job, there are some steps that may help minimize your risk. These include:

  • Stepping away from diesel engines whenever possible, such as during breaks and lunches.
  • Discuss with your employer about what can be done to create a safer work environment. Items such as masks and respirators should be supplied to workers. Steps should also be taken to improve ventilation in the work area.
  • Any worker who works around diesel engines should make sure their physician be aware of the work environment they are exposed to every day, as well as schedule regular examinations to check for any symptoms related to lung cancer or any other lung diseases. The sooner these conditions are diagnosed, the better the chances are of successful treatment.

Contact a Virginia FELA Injury Attorney

In many cases that involve the tragic illness or death of a railroad employee, the railroad may contact the victim’s family to try to offer a quick settlement. The amounts they offer are usually far below the actual amount the family would recover with the help of a FELA injury attorney. Victims and their families should never sign or agree to any settlement without first consulting with a Virginia FELA attorney.

At Shapiro & Appleton, we have extensive legal experience advocating for railroad workers and their families. If your loved one has been injured or killed in a railroad accident, call our firm today to find out how we can help your family get the legal and financial justice you deserve.

Norfolk Jury Returns $5 Million Verdict in Favor of Client Who Passed Away from Asbestos-Related Lung Disease

Our client, a carman, worked at Norfolk Southern’s Lambert’s Point car repair shop for more than a decade. He serviced and changed out asbestos-containing brake shoes at the shop year in and year out breathing in toxic asbestos fibers. After nearly ten years, Norfolk Southern hired abatement contractors to remove asbestos from the car shop. Our client subsequently became very ill and was diagnosed with a deadly lung disease. He died in 2017 due to complications from the disease. After his death, our client’s daughter obtained an autopsy that revealed asbestos was in fact in his lung tissue. The daughter contacted Randy Appleton, one of the firm partners, who accepted the case after reviewing the autopsy. The railroad denied all liability and pointed to our client’s smoking history as the basis for his lung disease. After a six-day trial, a jury in Norfolk ruled in favor of our client and awarded $5 million in damages (with 80 percent contributory negligence).

Learn More about the Multi-Million Dollar Railroad Wrongful Death Jury Verdict Here. 

Why You Need an Experienced Railroad Derailment Lawyer When You Suffer Injuries or Lung Damage From a Train Wreck

No one can feel completely safe when a train goes off the tracks. “Train wreck” did not become shorthand for a disastrous situation for no reason.

As Virginia-based railroad injury lawyers for going on 40 years, we have seen firsthand some of the worst results from train derailments. We helped several victims of the Norfolk Southern chemical train crash in Graniteville, South Carolina (SC), that released a massive cloud of deadly chlorine gas. We also secured a $60 million award for a man who suffered permanent brain damage after a train literally flew off its tracks and crashed into the gas station service building in which our client was working.


The people most likely to get injured or killed in train derailments are, of course, crew members, track workers and rail yard employees. When on-the-job accidents occur, railroad staff have undeniable rights to file claims for the payment of medical bills, lost wages, disability costs and, in the worst cases, funeral expenses and wrongful death settlements.


NOAA Office of Response and Restoration

Railroad workers who get hurt or killed while on duty are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Usually shortened to FELA, the law does much of what state workers’ compensation laws do for workers in other industries. The biggest difference is that when a railroad refuses to settle a work-related injury or death claim, the rail employee or the employee’s family must file a federal lawsuit. The case itself can be heard in a state court, but it is essential to hire an attorney who has national experience with handling FELA lawsuits.

A few reasons for this include the following:

  • Federal safety laws control the actions of railroads and violating those laws automatically creates liability.
  • Obtaining critical evidence and company records often requires filing requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
  • How to identify the types and locations of records and evidence that might be destroyed or lost will not be obvious to someone working their first FELA case.
  • Most railroad companies operate across state lines, giving them resources a law firm that only takes local cases will lack.

Perhaps most importantly, knowing the railroad company usually proves invaluable in successfully countering the arguments and obstructionism of the defense team in a FELA lawsuit. An attorney who has spent decades fighting for the rights of rail employees will have many connections inside a company who can confirm details about a derailment and corporate policies and procedures. An experienced FELA attorney will also be able to call upon a broad range of experts to conduct investigations and testify on his client’s behalf.

If you need information regarding your legal rights after any type of railroad accident involving injuries or deaths from a train derailment, crash or release of toxic chemicals, please contact our law firm for a free and confidential consultation.