Working around locomotives, near railroad tracks, or in a railyard is a fundamentally hazardous job. Railcars and train engines roll along tracks on steel wheels and are incredibly clumsy and heavy. On a daily basis, railway workers are exposed to multiple dangers, some of which could potentially cause severe and even fatal injuries.
If you were injured while you were working for a Virginia railroad company, you might be eligible to recover financial compensation for your damages by bringing a claim under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act. The Virginia railroad injury attorneys from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been advocating for railroad workers since 1985. Our firm has secured numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and jury verdicts in major railway injury and wrongful death cases.
Worker Injuries Caused by Accidents
Train derailments, negligent operation, and machine malfunctions can all lead to serious injuries on the road, in a railyard, or at other railway worksites. Some common injuries include:
- damage to the spinal cord
- traumatic brain injuries
- third-degree burns
- internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- involuntary amputation.
Even if a railyard accident does not result in a catastrophic injury, the short-term effects that accompany injuries such as broken or fractured bones, back injuries, and ligament sprains and strains will still have a considerable impact on a victim’s life, particularly if they are unable to work and earn a living while they recover.
Disability and Railroad Workers’ Injuries
Compounding injuries, specifically those to the shoulders and back, could make a worker eligible to claim disability from the United States Railroad Retirement Board. For example, a torn rotator cuff can be corrected with surgery so the injured employee will most likely not be able to collect permanent disability. If, however, that employee also has heart problems, a bad back, and bad knees, then the combination of these four conditions combined could entitle them to disability.
Railroad workers have two types of Railroad Retirement Board disability available to them. If they have at least 20 years of service on the railroad, workers can apply for occupational disability. These benefits are intended for those who experience an injury that is serious enough to prevent them from ever returning to their job.
If the worker has fewer than 20 years of service but more than 10, they are eligible to apply for what the Railroad Retirement Board calls total and permanent disability. This is for workers who are no longer able to perform any type of railway work up to and including their old job.
How Can Railroad Work Cause Long-Term Illness?
In addition to the physical injuries associated with railroad accidents, long-term health issues, such as cancer, are also related to the railway working environment. For instance, being exposed to asbestos, a fire-suppressing mineral that is still found in many older railyard buildings and trains, is known to cause mesothelioma and other lung cancers.
Exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as benzene, increase a worker’s chances of developing leukemia. Their regular exposure to diesel fumes has also been linked to various forms of cancer. In Virginia, railroad carriers could be liable for these and other occupational diseases under FELA.
Seeking Compensation in Virginia for Common Railroad Worker Injuries
If your occupational illness or workplace injury was the result of a railroad company’s negligence, you might be able to hold them liable for your injuries and other damages through a civil lawsuit or FELA claim.
The railroad accident injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have handled multiple claims against short-line railways and big rail companies under the Federal Employers Liability Act in states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia.
If you or a member of your family have been seriously injured in a railway accident, please schedule your free consultation by calling our Virginia law offices at (833) 997-1774 or through the form on our website.