Most Common Injuries Reported While Working for a Railroad

Job-related injuries are common in many professions that involve the use of complex machinery and cramped workspaces. The hazardous nature of railroad work puts the railroad workers are at a greater risk of injuries than most other jobs. Looking at the heightened risk in railroad work, Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) came into effect in 1908 to protect the rights of railroad workers.

FELA stipulates that the railroad companies must provide supervision and safety training, enforce safety regulations, and must not make unreasonable demands of railroad workers. An injured railroad worker can seek to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering; under a FELA claim.

Common Injuries in Railroad Jobs

Any railroad work injury, whether minor or severe, qualifies for financial compensation under a FELA claim only if the injured worker can identify and establish negligence on the part of the railroad company. Your best chance of recovering the full and fair compensation for your injuries and other damages, lies in working with a competent FELA lawyer who can help you build a strong case against your employer.

Some of the most common injuries while working for a railroad company are:

Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury, in simple terms, is an injury that has long-lasting and adverse physical, emotional, and psychological fallout for the victim. Catastrophic injuries tend to diminish your quality of living and have a detrimental effect on all aspects of life. Some of the injuries that can be categorized as catastrophic are:

  • Serious neck or back injuries: Can leave a victim paralyzed
  • Quadriplegia: Paralysis of the body’s extremities
  • Paraplegia: Paralysis of lower extremities of the body
  • Severe burn injuries: Can leave behind physical, emotional, and psychological scars

Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is generally caused when an object makes a forceful impact on the skull. While a concussion is a mild TBI, a severe brain injury can have serious and long-lasting side effects for the injured worker. An invisible intracranial injury, following a violent impact, may cause lifelong memory problems and leave the injured victim with reduced mental faculties.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A repetitive stress injury, also known as cumulative trauma, is a common injury related to railroad workers. Repeated motions result in overuse of a particular part of the body causing faster wear out and injury. Common body areas affected by cumulative trauma include the neck, back, shoulders, hips, and knees.

The extreme physical nature of their work leaves railroad workers highly susceptible to developing a repetitive stress injury. Often, the workers are required to work in cramped spaces to perform repair and maintenance work while being bent over or in awkward positions, for long stretches of time.

While different individuals develop cumulative trauma at different rates, these injuries manifest over time due to frequent exposure to hazards like:

  • Throwing switches
  • Being exposed to vibrations
  • Mounting and dismounting train cars
  • Walking for long duration on ballast rock

Below are some of the common forms of repetitive stress injuries:

  • Carpal tunnel: Tendons swell, leading to pain in the hand and wrist, due to the compression of carpal ligament nerves.
  • Lateral epicondylitis, or, tennis elbow: Upper arm inflammation due to the tendons getting torn
  • Hearing Loss: Loss of auditory senses due to regular exposure to excessive noise levels

Lead Poisoning

According to a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), every year, over 3 million workers suffer exposure to unsafe levels of lead. Railroad workers, working near trains and railways are at a high risk of lead poisoning. Inhaled lead fumes pose a risk to the internal organs and have the potential to cause permanent damage.


Asbestos is one of the many hazardous materials being used by railroad operators. Prolonged exposure to asbestos causes scarring of lung tissue, which in turn manifests in a type of lung disease known as asbestosis. Asbestos; affordable, strong, and fire-resistant, is a silicate mineral that was used to insulate trains. Its extensive use made railroad workers prone to asbestosis.

Lung Cancer

Railroad workers are exposed to a long list of extremely dangerous and life-threatening toxic materials in their line of work every day. Repair and maintenance jobs often displace the railroad rock, resulting in silica dust dispersal. This dust, if ingested, may cause silicosis or lung cancer. Other typical toxic materials that the railroad workers are constantly exposed to include diesel fumes, chemical solvents, and petroleum-based substances.


Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that usually develops on the inner chest wall or the outer lining of the lungs. The common symptoms of this type of cancer may take as long as fifty years to show, and include shortness of breath, chest pain, and weight loss.

File a Claim against Your Employer with the Help of a Virginia FELA Attorney

The capable and seasoned railroad accident attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, have a combined experience of more than 50 years in managing FELA claims. Over the years, we have filed and fought FELA claims for hundreds of railroad workers and successfully recovered millions in financial compensation.

We can help build a robust case on your behalf, to hold your employer legally liable for your injuries. While we can skillfully negotiate, we never shy away from litigation if the need arises. Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online for a free review of your FELA claim.


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