It is well known that the risk of work-related injuries is present in several different occupations. In some occupations, however, the risk is more prominent compared to others. Railroad work is one such occupation where workers face a wide range of safety hazards.
Due to the nature of the work they do and the fact that they work with heavy machinery, railroad workers are at a higher risk of sustaining injuries compared to many others – especially if the railroad company they work for fails to provide them with a reasonably safe and hazard-free work environment. In such cases, the injured workers can hold the railroad company responsible and recover compensatory damages.
Fatality Rate in Railroad Work
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the fatality rate for railroad occupations remained at 25% between 1993 and 1997. It translates into 25 deaths for every 100,000 employees. Between 1998 and 2002, the fatality rate reduced from 25% to 15%.
Between 2010 and 2019, a total of 143 fatalities and 41,981 injuries were reported. While the fatality rate has noticeably dropped over the years, it is still significantly higher than the fatality rate for many other occupations.
The data also shows that among railroad workers, some are more likely to sustain injuries than others. For instance, the fatality rate for locomotive operators, conductors, yardmasters, and brake, signal, and switch operators is much higher than the fatality rate for other railroad workers.
Common Injuries Suffered by Railroad Workers
Given below is a list of the most common injuries suffered by railroad workers.
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Hearing loss
- Crush injuries
- Lead poisoning
- Lung cancer
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
Consequences of Railroad Work Injuries
Railroad-related injuries can have serious consequences and might require long-term medical management and care.
- Repetitive stress injuries – which can be caused by repetitive tasks like throwing switches, mounting and dismounting train cars, and walking on ballast rock – can severely affect your ability to perform day-to-day activities and restrict your mobility as well.
- Exposure to excessive noise on a constant basis can lead to tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss. If exposed to extremely loud noise, you could suffer permanent hearing loss.
- Railroad employees might come into contact with lead while welding metal components or while working on bridges and other structures that might still contain lead paint. It can lead to lead poisoning, which can cause long-term damage to the kidneys, heart, and the brain.
- Exposure to asbestos, which was commonly used by railroad companies in the past, can cause serious and potentially fatal diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer.
- Serious injuries to the neck or the back can cause partial or complete paralysis, as a result of which you might need mobility aids and medical care for the rest of your life.
- Traumatic injuries to the brain can lead to a severe decline in cognitive abilities, as a result of which you might have to relearn several skills that are required to perform day-to-day activities.
Determining Liability in Railroad Injury Cases
According to the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), railroad companies have a duty to:
- Provide a safe and hazard-free environment for all their workers
- Provide adequate training for all their workers
- Provide protective equipment for workers who need it
- Promote safe work practices
- Enforce federal safety regulations
In case they fail to comply with any of the aforementioned guidelines, and if their failure results in a railroad accident in which one or more workers are injured or killed, they can be held liable for all the economic and non-economic losses caused by the accident.
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Railroad Accident Lawyer
In order to be able to file a FELA lawsuit against a railroad company and recover damages, you should prove that
- The railroad company had a duty to provide you with a safe work environment.
- The company failed in its duty.
- Their failure or negligence contributed to the accident.
- You suffered economic and/or non-economic losses as a result of the accident.
This is why it is critical to hire an experienced railroad accident lawyer who can collect the evidence needed for your case, negotiate with the insurance company, convince the jury with persuasive arguments (if your case goes to trial), and recover the compensation that you deserve.
Experienced Railroad Accident Injury Lawyers in Virginia
The personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn have represented several railroad workers over the years and have recovered substantial damages from railroad companies.
Our lawyers are highly skilled, have decades of combined trial experience, and are committed to helping victims of railroad accidents get justice. We take immense pride in the fact that we regularly take up cases that are deemed too complicated by many and still have a high success rate.
If you or any of your loved ones have been injured in a railroad accident, call us today at 800-752-0042 to find out if you have a case against your employer and whether you are eligible to recover damages.