Tens of Millions Recovered on Behalf of Railroad Workers
Hall & Lampros lawyers have recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of injured railroad workers under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky.
We have successfully represented railroad workers relating to their injuries in train collisions and injuries based on defective or improperly operated tampers, backhoes, excavators, ballast regulators, booms, loaders, boxcars, couplers, spikers, switches, and air hoses. We also have litigated cases involving unsafe slack action, unsafe reverse shoves (49 CFR §220.49), Safety Appliance defects, violations of “time out”, and unsafe ballast.
We understand proper train handling, including speed regulations, horn application, and the brake applications (dynamic, automatic, independent, and emergency).
We understand the railroad’s non-delegable duties including the duties to provide proper equipment and track maintenance, crossing maintenance, safe and well-lit job sites, and safe job briefings.
We are very familiar with the analysis of event recorders, and in all cases seek immediate preservation of event recorders, RailView and other locomotive video recorders, dispatcher communications, railcar appurtenances, train consists, and root cause analyses.
We have successfully litigated FELA wrongful death, amputation, paralysis, and other total disability and partial disability cases, and we advise railroad workers relating to Railroad Retirement Board practices and procedures. We also are proud to represent railroad workers on lost time cases and whistleblower actions. We have won cases against CSXT, Norfolk Southern, Florida East Coast Railway and others.
Why you Need An FELA Experienced Lawyer for a Railroad Injury:
Railroad claims are complex because they involve complex railroad practices and procedures, complex federal regulations and statutes, and dangerous work conditions and equipment that are unique to the railroad industry.
The Supreme Court has recognized the danger of asking non-FELA trained lawyers to handle FELA cases:
Injured workers or their families often fell prey on the one hand to persuasive claims adjusters eager to gain a quick and cheap settlement *4 for their railroad employers, or on the other to lawyers either not competent to try these lawsuits against the able and experienced railroad counsel or too willing to settle a case for a quick dollar.
Bhd. of R. R. Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Va. State B., 377 U.S. 1, 3–4 (1964). Hall & Lampros lawyers have recovered millions;
- Confidential settlement re railroad worker paralysis injury
- Confidential FELA settlement re railroad worker amputation
- Confidential settlement for a Georgia railroader suffering from asbestos lung cancer
- $2.905 million verdict re railroad worker back injury
- $2.56 million jury verdict against a major railroad for a conductor who suffered a torn rotator cuff and injury-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- $1.4 million jury verdict against a major railroad for a conductor who suffered a back injury as a result of a defective derailer
- $1.0 million dollar verdict in FELA action for railroader who suffered a knee injury
- $900,000 settlement for Tennessee railroad conductor injured due to a Safety Appliance Act violation
- $900,000 FELA settlement for railroad trainman who suffered a neck injury
- $851,000 settlement on behalf of railroad worker who suffered pelvic fracture in train collision
- $675,000 settlement for railroad trainman for leg injury due to defective yard switch
- $500,000 settlement for a railroad trainman who injured his foot in an industrial yard accident
- $450,000 settlement for railroad trainman for back injury when two freight trains collided
- $450,000 settlement for a railroad trainman who injured his back on a defective switch
- $400,000 settlement for a railroad trainman who suffered permanent lung damage due to asbestos exposure
- $307,500 settlement for railroad trainman for shoulder injury due to defective brake stick
- $280,000 settlement for railroad trainman who suffered a shoulder injury from a defective air hose
- $250,000 FELA settlement for railroad worker injured while tightening a hand brake
- $250,000 settlement for maintenance of way worker for neck injury due to defective ballast regulator
What Is The FELA?
In 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, (FELA) in response to the thousands of railroad worker deaths and work-related injuries in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This special federal legislation was enacted to assure railroad employees a safe work place and give them and their families the right to recover compensation if injured in a railroad related accident. Under this law, injured employees can seek compensation for wage loss, future wage loss, medical expenses and treatments, pain and suffering, and partial or permanent disability. If an employee is killed on the job, survivors are entitled to recover because of the death.
Under the FELA, the railroads have a duty to provide their employees with safe places to work. They must also provide property training, safe equipment, tools and proper working conditions for them.
If any railroad fails to take these safety measures, or if the employee is injured through the carelessness of any other employee, the railroad is held responsible: it is liable to the worker for any injuries or damages he may suffer as a result.
The FELA provides damages to workers who are injured due to:
- Negligence by the railroad, its officers, employees, or subcontractors
- Failure of the railroad to provide a safe place to work, safe tools, equipment, or appliances
- Violation of the requirements of the Safety Appliance Act, the Locomotive/Boiler Inspection Act, the Federal Rail Safety Act, the Federal Locomotive Safety Standards, the Power Brake Law, hours of service, and OSHA regulations
The FELA entitles railroad workers to recover damages for loss of wages (including future wages), pain and suffering, mental anxiety, partial and permanent disability, and past and future medical expenses relating to the worker’s injuries.
The Slightest Causation Standard
The Supreme Court has held that railroads are liable for worker injuries cause even in the slightest by negligence:
Given FELA’s “broad” causation language, Urie v. Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 181, 69 S.Ct. 1018, 93 L.Ed. 1282, and Congress’ “humanitarian” and “remedial goal[s]” in enacting the statute, FELA’s causation standard is “relaxed” compared to that applicable in common-law tort litigation, Consolidated Rail Corporation v. Gottshall, 512 U.S. 532, 542–543, 114 S.Ct. 2396, 129 L.Ed.2d 427. Rogers described that relaxed standard as “whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion **2633 that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought.” 352 U.S., at 506, 77 S.Ct. 443.
CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride, 564 U.S. 685 (2011)
The FELA, Safety Appliance Act and Locomotive/Boiler Inspection Act and other Statutes and Regulations:
The FELA imposes strict liability where an employee is injured due to a Railroad’s violation of the Safety Appliance Act, Locomotive Inspection Act (formerly the Boiler Inspection Act), the Federal Rail Safety Act, The Federal Locomotive Safety Standards, and all Department of Transportation Safety Regulations. Under strict liability, the court will not reduce the recovery even if there is contributory negligence on the part of the injured employee. Strict liability makes contributory negligence irrelevant.
In addition to the FELA, railroad workers are protected by:
- The Federal Safety Appliance Act makes railroads responsible for injuries (regardless of negligence) caused by defective couplers, insecure grab irons, ladders or steps, and malfunctioning hand and air brakes.
- The Federal Locomotive/Boiler Inspection Act makes railroads responsible (regardless of negligence) for injuries caused by certain defects and dangerous conditions on locomotives.
Damages Under The FELA
Many railroad workers believe that their right to recover for work-related injuries is governed by workers’ compensation statutes which provide compensation only for lost time and wages. In fact, however, injured railroaders are protected by the FELA which entitles them to receive much more than lost time or wages.
FELA Gives Injured Railroaders the Right to Sue Their Employer and Recover Damages for:
- Lost Wages, both past and future
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses that were not paid for by the railroad
- Compensation for pain, suffering and the loss of life’s pleasures, both past and future
- Any scarring or disfigurement
The FELA entitles Railroad Workers to have their claims decided by a jury.
The FELA does not provide compensation unless the railroad was somehow at fault in causing the injury. Unlike no-fault workers’ compensation statutes, the FELA requires proof that the railroad was negligent, or that a defective condition on railroad property or equipment contributed to the accident.
Statute of Limitations
The Statue of Limitations under the FELA is generally three (3) Years. This means that the lawsuit must be started within three (3) years of the accident date.
The Statute of Limitations for certain occupational diseases, (for example: asbestos, carpal tunnel syndrome, lung cancer) where it is unclear when the “injury” occurred, is three (3) years from the time the condition is discovered, and that the condition was caused by railroad occupation.
Occupational Disease: Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, Multiple Myeloma (bone cancer) and Leukemia. There are railroad occupational exposures that can lead to development of lung cancer, mesothelioma, multiple myeloma (bone cancer), leukemia and other diseases. Even if you have made and settled an asbestos or other occupational claim in the past, claims for these diseases – if diagnosed within the last three (3) years – may still exist.
What to Do if You Are Injured
GET IMMEDIATE medical treatment: Obtain the best medical care that you can through your own doctors. The Railroad does not have the right to have management present when the medical doctor is treating you.
IMMEDIATELY Report the accident to your Supervisor: Even if you think you are not injured, report the incident. If you wait, the railroad may charge you with failing to report an accident, or possibly falsifying one.
Fill out the Accident Report/Injury Statement: Most railroads require an injured employee to immediately fill out and sign an Accident Report or Injury Statement. If you cannot think clearly, or are in too much physical pain, do not fill out or sign the Report/Statement. This can be done later. If someone else prepares the Accident Report/Injury Statement for you, make sure you read it carefully and that they record the dangerous condition, defective equipment, or action that caused your accident.
Keep your statements BRIEF make sure to describe the railroad’s negligence and/or all defective equipment in the Accident Report/ Injury Statement: The FELA requires proof that the railroad was at fault for the accident, it is important that you spell out what the railroad did wrong, or what was wrong with the railroad’s property, tools and/or equipment.
Carefully read and answer the questions before signing the Report/Injury Statement. The questions are usually designed to help the railroad avoid responsibility.
Keep a copy of the Accident Report/Injury Statement and any other form that was filled-out in connection with your injury.
Do not SIGN any documents other than the Accident Report/Injury Statement. The Accident Report/Injury Statement is the only form you are required to complete.
Do not make any oral or written statements other than the Accident Report/Injury Statement without first speaking with your FELA attorney. Refer everyone to the Accident Report/Injury Statement instead.
Hall & Lampros lawyers have recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of injured railroad workers under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. For your free case evaluation, call or text 404-876-8100 now or complete an intake form on our contact page and we will call you!