Workers in a railyard know many of the risks associated with the job, but there are times when an accident could have been prevented with the proper preventative measures. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that there were close to 12,000 total accidents or incidents, with a total of 767 fatalities related to railroad accidents. More accidents go reported, but undocumented due to improper representation incorrectly filed paperwork and other issues often beyond the control of the injured party.
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The Main Types of Railroad Accidents
Railroad accidents fall into five main categories that describe the general nature and activity involved. Heavy machinery, mechanical switches, levers, engines, railcars, toxic cargo, and explosions are among a few of the different types of accidents that can occur.
Heavy machinery activity refers to the type of equipment used to load, unload, move and arrange heavy cargo in railyards. This equipment isn’t always properly maintained, and sometimes proper safety procedures and training aren’t provided to employees. This can result in injury or death.
Mechanical switches and levers generally cause less severe injuries, but they can still permanently disable a worker by bending, pinching, crushing or even severing limbs. While most workers survive these types of accidents, they are in for a lifetime of medical care and physical therapy. Often, insurance doesn’t cover the complete costs requires for these workers to fully recover or become whole.
Engines and railcars weight over 50 tons and can easily main or kill a railyard worker. The workers that survive often lose limbs, mental capacity, and the ability to perform work as normal. When a worker loses limbs, it changes their lives forever and they may never get back to their previous, healthy functioning.
Toxic cargo is an issue that affects railyard workers exposed to these chemicals. While cars are typically labeled correctly, when there is a leak it can cause workers to come down with mysterious health problems. Some of the problems commonly exhibited include, but are not limited to respiratory issues, cancers, and hard to diagnose issues with fatigue.
Flammable and explosive objects can leak, catch fire, or explode during transit. Railyard workers that survive generally require immediate medical care, and extensive recovery times. The medical bills pile up and families suffer.
Workers can also suffer injuries that result from heat, illness, and unsafe working conditions in general. Long hours, repetitive tasks, illnesses due to exhaust, train derailments, equipment failures and collisions can all have a severe impact on a worker’s life.
Workers Compensation Isn’t the Only Option
Railyard workers face far more dangerous working conditions than many other industries, and it’s why the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) enables railroad workers to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Many workers incorrectly believe that the only option for recovery is through workers compensation provided by the company. It’s a traditional remedy, and often the first that workers go to when they need support. However, there are damages that can be awarded as punitive damaged for a company that fails to protect its employees. Workers that want to file a lawsuit would need to contact a lawyer since many of the documents and paperwork must be filed according to strict timelines. One of the easiest ways to lose a case is to fail to file paperwork on time.
There are avenues for injured workers to pursue. Workers shouldn’t feel that seeking damages for neglect is something they should avoid, or that it is somehow selfish or self-serving. Often, after an accident, a victim is happy to have survived and they feel fine initially. As time wears on and the injuries begin to become more obvious and prominent, the worker may begin to realize how serious the accident actually was. Injured parties should understand that the law exists to bring them as close to becoming whole as possible. In many situations, a worker can never be made whole, but the damages received can help provide the necessary medical care and time off required for the best recovery possible.
If you’re involved in an accident that causes injury requiring a trip to the hospital, you owe it to yourself to seek the advice of an attorney. Later on down the road, when the smoke clears and you’re dealing with your new life, you may regret not making that one phone call that could have helped to bring you closer to becoming whole. Railyard injuries can happen to any worker, and it’s important to make the right decision in the aftermath.
Call for a Free Consultation With a Rail Yard Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us or call (301) 627-8700 for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. We are ready to represent people who have been injured throughout the mid-Atlantic region.