If you are a railroad worker who was diagnosed with lung cancer or another form of cancer, your line of employment could have been the cause of your disease. Railway employees are diagnosed with cancer at a rate that outpaces most other professions. Unfortunately, this potential risk is not made known to those on the job. Due to this, several thousand railway workers have developed terminal cancers. In fact, one study determined that more than 4,800 railroad workers died of lung cancer over the course of 38 years.
Why is the cancer rate among railroad workers so high?
Most workers who sustain a serious job-related injury are eligible to collect compensation. Although the workers’ compensation system protects workers in most industries, the Federal Employer Liability Act outlines special rules that apply to railroad employees.
As experienced FELA attorneys, we understand the adverse workplace conditions that railroad employees often endure and the occupational illnesses and injuries that commonly accompany them. The Virginia railroad injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp are advocates for railway workers in all lines of work. We have successfully recovered numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and jury verdicts in major railway injury cases.
If you are interested in understanding more about your rights under FELA, you should speak with a dedicated railway cancer attorney for help.
Exposure to Dangerous Substances
Depending on their location and specific line of work, railway workers are often exposed to multiple hazardous substances, many of which are known carcinogens. For instance, some hazardous substances that railroad employees are often exposed to that are also known to cause cancer include:
- Rock dust
- Welding fumes
- Lead paint
- Diesel fumes
- Silica dust
Although a few of these substances can only cause cancer after years of exposure, this is not always the case. For instance, one recent study determined that the length of a railroad worker’s employment had absolutely no impact on their odds of developing lung cancer, indicating that employees might develop certain forms of cancer even after short-term exposure to these substances.
Common Cancers Among Railroad Workers
Railroad employees are at a heightened risk of developing specific forms of cancer depending on which substances they are exposed to during the course of their employment. Cancers that develop more frequently in railway workers include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- Bladder cancer
- Colon cancer
- Mixed dust lung disease
- Kidney cancer
- Interstitial lung disease
- Lung cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
Railroad Workers With the Highest Level of Risk
Some types of railway jobs put employees at a greater level of risk of cancer than others. Recent statistics suggest that all railway workers endure greater-than-average odds of developing cancer, such as:
- Carriage maintenance crews
- Sheet metal workers
This is because many of the hazardous chemicals listed above are present throughout the industry, rather than being limited to one particular line of work.
Can Railroad Workers Sue a Railroad Company for Occupational Illness?
Railroad workers who sustain an injury, such as a cancer diagnosis, due to their employment, might be eligible to collect compensation through a FELA claim. FELA is similar to workers’ compensation in that it compensates injured workers for their damages, but there are several differences between the two.
For example, a railway worker will have to prove that the railway company was at least partly liable for their diagnosis. This can be accomplished by showing proof that the company knew of the risks their workers faced due to the exposure but failed to warn them and take any safety precautions to minimize the danger. Also, a worker bringing a FELA claim does not need to waive their right to file a lawsuit against their employer.
Is There a Filing Deadline for a FELA Claim?
According to FELA, workers have three years from the day their injury occurred to file their claim. Against the backdrop of a cancer diagnosis, however, there is usually no way to determine when it started to develop, so courts typically allow claims to be filed within three years from the day of diagnosis.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney
The railroad cancer attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have achieved successful outcomes to multiple claims under the Federal Employers Liability Act. If you were diagnosed with cancer or any other occupational illness or injury as a railroad employee, call our Virginia Beach law offices at (833) 997-1774 or fill out the form on our website.