- Railroad_FELA - Armbruster Dripps & Blotevogel

Railroad Employees And FELA Injury Claims

Railroad Accident Lawyer Illinois

The foundation of industrial shipping lies in our nation’s railroad network. However, when companies prioritize profit over safety, it often leads to railroad accidents and train injuries. At Armbruster Dripps Blotevogel LLC, our mission is to ensure that those affected by railroad injuries receive the support they need to recover while holding these companies accountable for their actions. We thrive on challenges because they allow us to improve our clients’ lives. This unwavering determination drives us to compensate our clients for essential medical care, replace lost wages, and empower them to face the future with confidence.

 - big-ARLA-2024-Academy-and-Advocates-Rect-2500x800 - Armbruster Dripps & Blotevogel

Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA): You May Be Entitled To Railroad Injury Compensation

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law established in 1908 to protect the rights of railroad workers who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job. Unlike typical workers’ compensation systems, FELA allows injured railroad employees to file lawsuits against their employers for negligence. As such, to receive compensation, the worker or their attorney must prove that the employer’s negligence played a role in causing the injury.

In Illinois, FELA applies to railroad accidents in the same way it does throughout the United States. Suppose a railroad worker is injured due to the negligence of their employer. In that case, the rail worker in question (or a FELA lawyer representing them) can file a lawsuit under FELA to seek compensation for their damages. This provides a legal avenue for railroad workers to hold their employers accountable for unsafe working conditions or other forms of negligence that lead to accidents.

FELA covers many different injury scenarios, from accidents caused by faulty equipment or unsafe working conditions to injuries resulting from repetitive stress or exposure to toxic substances. It’s essential for railroad workers injured on the job in Illinois to understand their rights under FELA and consult with an experienced attorney specializing in railroad accident cases.

Compensation that may be available to railroad workers who are injured on the job includes damages such as the following:

  • Medical expenses for emergency care, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and other services
  • Lost wages due to attending medical appointments or being physically unable to work
  • Pain and suffering, including scarring and disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life

Types of Railroad Accidents

Railroad accidents can result from a variety of causes, often involving a combination of factors. One significant factor is railroad company negligence, including inadequate track and equipment maintenance, failure to address known safety hazards, insufficient employee training, and disregarding safety protocols.

Third-party negligence, such as negligent drivers or maintenance contractors, can also contribute to railroad accidents.

Malfunctioning equipment is another common cause of railroad accidents. This includes issues with locomotives, brakes, signals, and other essential components. Failure to properly inspect and maintain equipment can lead to catastrophic failures and accidents.

Additionally, inadequate safety measures at railroad crossings can lead to collisions with vehicles and pedestrians. Insufficient warning systems, obstructed views, and poorly maintained crossings are all potential hazards.

Various types of railroad accidents include:

  • Train Accidents: Any unexpected events or incidents involving trains, often resulting in damage, injury, or loss of life. These accidents can occur due to a variety of factors, including derailments, collisions with other trains or vehicles, or infrastructure failures. Train accidents can have devastating consequences for passengers, crew members, and bystanders.
  • Crossing Injuries: Accidents at railroad crossings, where roads or pathways intersect with train tracks, may involve vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. Common causes of crossing injuries include failure to obey signals or warnings, poor visibility, and malfunctioning safety equipment. Such accidents can lead to severe injuries or fatalities, emphasizing the importance of clear signage and working signals,
  • Trespassing Injuries: These occur when individuals unlawfully access railroad property, including tracks, stations, and yards, putting themselves at risk of harm. These incidents can involve pedestrians, thrill-seekers, or individuals attempting shortcuts.

Damages and Fatalities in Railroad Accidents

Illinois Railroad accidents have caused significant damages and fatalities over the years. These accidents can have devastating consequences, including severe injuries, loss of life, and extensive property damage.

In many cases, the damages incurred can far exceed $1 million, particularly in instances involving catastrophic injuries such as severe burns, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, or multiple fatalities. Damages can include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, property repair or replacement, funeral expenses, and loss of financial support in wrongful death cases.

Several factors contribute to the significant damages and fatalities associated with railroad accidents. One crucial factor is the speed and weight of freight trains. These trains can be extremely heavy, often weighing several thousand tons. When a collision occurs, the sheer force generated by such mass can result in catastrophic consequences. Additionally, the speed at which trains operate plays a crucial role. Trains can travel at high velocities, making stopping quickly or avoiding collisions challenging.

Another contributing factor is the prevalence of private highway vehicles on the road. With countless cars and trucks sharing the same transportation networks, the potential for accidents at rail crossings increases. Drivers may misjudge the distance and speed of an approaching train, leading to collisions. Furthermore, motorists’ distractions, impaired driving, and other negligent behaviors can exacerbate the risks.

What Is The Statute of Limitations In Illinois For FELA Claims?

According to FELA regulations, you have a three-year window from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit against your employer for damages. If you exceed this time limit, your case may be dismissed, potentially leaving you without any compensation.

We strongly recommend that railroad workers who have sustained injuries due to employer negligence contact our office promptly after an accident, ensuring they initiate the legal process within the crucial three-year statute of limitations.

What Is Comparative Negligence In An Illinois Railroad Accident?

Comparative negligence is a legal principle that evaluates the degree of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant in a lawsuit. In the context of a railroad accident, it means that if the injured party (plaintiff) is found to have contributed to their own injuries in any way, their compensation may be reduced proportionally to their level of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is deemed 20% responsible for their injuries due to their actions, their awarded damages would be reduced by 20%. The at-fault party would still owe them the other 80%.

This concept can significantly impact the outcome of a lawsuit, potentially affecting how much damage compensation the plaintiff receives. It’s essential for both parties to provide evidence and arguments regarding comparative negligence during the legal proceedings.

Amtrak Accidents

Illinois has unfortunately seen its share of Amtrak accidents. For example:

2019 University Park Derailment: On October 14, 2019, an Amtrak train derailed near University Park, Illinois. The train was traveling from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries in this incident.

Incidents like this underscore the importance of safety protocols, maintenance practices, and vigilance in the railroad industry. For injured railroad workers, FELA provides a legal framework for seeking compensation. It allows employees to sue their employer for damages resulting from work-related injuries. Such damages vary by incident but typically include medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.

Hiring a Railroad Accident Lawyer

Hiring a railroad accident lawyer in Illinois can provide numerous benefits for victims seeking compensation and justice. Here are some key advantages:

  • Specialized Knowledge: Railroad accident cases involve complex FELA laws and regulations specific to the industry. A specialized attorney will deeply understand them, ensuring a solid legal strategy tailored to your particular case.
  • Experience Handling Similar Cases: A seasoned railroad accident lawyer will have experience dealing with cases similar to yours. They’ll be familiar with common issues, liable parties, and effective strategies for pursuing compensation.
  • Thorough Investigation: Railroad accidents often require in-depth investigations to determine liability. An experienced attorney will have the resources and knowledge to thoroughly review the accident, gather evidence, and identify responsible parties.
  • Negotiation Skills: Experienced railroad accident lawyers are skilled negotiators. They’ll be able to engage with insurance companies, railroad corporations, and legal teams to pursue fair settlements on behalf of their clients.

Overall, hiring an Illinois railroad accident lawyer is a crucial step in seeking justice and fair compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial impact of the accident. It ensures that your rights are protected and that you have a knowledgeable advocate fighting for your best interests. Be sure to look for an experienced Illinois railroad accident lawyer who:

  • Is well-versed in FELA claims and railroad injury compensation
  • Has a proven track record for injured railroad worker claims
  • Is licensed in Illinois
  • Isn’t facing any disciplinary action by the state bar
  • Can start working on your case now