CHICAGO TRAIN ACCIDENT LAWYER
Chicago FELA Lawyer
Even with our modern technology and transportation methods, railroads are still the backbone of our society – transferring important and often hazardous cargo across the nation. Our railroad employees work around the clock to make sure each train and its cargo gets to its destination all while exposing themselves to a variety of dangers. That’s why the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) exists. Passed in 1908, FELA allows injured railroad workers who aren’t covered by workers’ compensation to file lawsuits for their injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you’ve suffered a railroad injury while on the job, you may have grounds to file a FELA lawsuit against your railroad company. A Chicago FELA lawyer at Curcio Law Offices can examine the details of your case, protect your legal rights, and help you fight for fair compensation. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with Chicago FELA attorneys today.
What is the Federal Employers Liability Act?
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was passed in 1908 in response to the exorbitant number of injuries and deaths that railroad employees suffered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It allows railroad workers injured on the job, who are exempt from workers’ compensation, to recover compensation for their injuries and damages.
Workers’ compensation laws provide injured workers compensation as well, but not if they are planning to sue their employers for negligence. In many cases, railroad workers suffer injuries as a result of the negligence of their railroad company. So filing a workers’ compensation claim would either offer a small amount of compensation, or no compensation at all because the burden of proof is high. The burden of proof in a FELA lawsuit, on the other hand, is lower. Instead of claiming comparative negligence, all the injured worker has to prove is that they suffered injuries partially or totally due to the negligence of their employer. They will often receive more compensation than they would from the average workers’ compensation payout.
Railroad worker injury claims are often very complex depending on state laws and the nature and the severity of injuries, so it’s crucial to hire a Chicago FELA attorney to help you obtain the settlement you deserve.
Railroad Accident Statistics in the U.S.
Tragically, 954 Americans died and 6,252 were severely injured from railroad accidents in 2022 according to data from the National Safety Council (NSC). This number of deaths represents an 11% increase since 2021 and the highest number of deaths since 2007.
With the number of deceased and injured railroad workers on the rise, experienced FELA lawyers are needed more than ever. Contact Curcio Law Offices today to discuss your claim.
Common Types of Railroad Accident Injuries
Injuries sustained during railroad work vary in their severity. From exposure to toxic chemicals to accidents involving heavy machinery, the risks are high. Listed below are the most commonly reported railroad injuries:
- Broken bones
- Burns from fires or hazardous materials
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Limb or digit amputations
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one has suffered an on the job injury caused by the negligence of a railroad employer, it’s crucial to arm yourself with an experienced railroad injury lawyer at Curcio Law Offices.
Common Causes of Railroad Accidents
Railroad accidents, though not as frequent as road accidents, can result in significant damages, catastrophic injuries, and loss of life for both employees and regular citizens. The massive size and momentum of trains make collisions, derailments, and other types of accidents especially catastrophic. The factors contributing to these accidents are varied and often interconnected.
Railroad Employer Negligence
Railroad employer negligence can play a significant role in causing employee injuries and accidents. Employers in the railroad industry have a responsibility to maintain safe working environments, ensure proper training, provide necessary protective equipment, and enforce safety protocols. When they fall short in these areas, the risk of accidents increases substantially.
For instance, if a railroad employer fails to conduct regular maintenance checks or address known equipment issues, it can result in derailments or equipment malfunctions. Likewise, inadequate training can leave employees unprepared to handle emergency situations or operate machinery safely. Additionally, when safety protocols are not implemented or enforced, employees might be exposed to hazardous conditions, from high-voltage equipment to toxic substances. Such negligence creates an environment where injuries become not just possible, but often inevitable.
One of the leading causes of railroad accidents is operator negligence. This encompasses a broad range of actions, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, failing to comply with signaling and communication protocols, and driving while fatigued. Proper training and adherence to safety protocols are vital to prevent such incidents, but lapses can and do occur, leading to potentially disastrous outcomes.
Train Track Problems
The integrity of train tracks plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation of trains. Over time, tracks can degrade, becoming susceptible to warping, cracking, or loosening. Environmental factors, such as floods or landslides, can also impact the track’s stability. Poorly maintained tracks can result in derailments, which are often severe.
Unprotected Railroad Crossings
Many accidents occur at railroad crossings, especially those lacking gates, lights, or other warning mechanisms. Unprotected or inadequately protected crossings pose a risk for both train operators and motorists or pedestrians crossing the track. Accidents at these locations are often due to a combination of poor visibility, inadequate warnings, and driver impatience or inattention.
Defective Warning Signals
Even when crossings are equipped with warning systems, they can fail. Defective warning signals – such as malfunctioning lights, bells, or gates – can give motorists and pedestrians a false sense of security. When these systems fail to activate in a timely manner, or at all, the results can be tragic.
Beyond the tracks and signals, the train itself needs regular maintenance and inspection. Worn-out brakes, malfunctioning communication devices, or faulty engines can all contribute to accidents. An equipment failure at a critical moment can lead to collisions, derailments, or other types of incidents that jeopardize the safety of railroad workers and the general public.
Exposure to Hazardous Cargo
Trains often transport hazardous materials, including chemicals, gasses, and flammable liquids. Any accident involving a train carrying such cargo can have compounded consequences. A derailment or collision can lead to spills or explosions, exposing nearby communities to toxic substances and creating environmental hazards that can persist for years.
How Much is My FELA Claim Worth?
Determining the value of railroad worker injury claims depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of injuries, the extent of disability, the amount of lost wages, the degree of pain and suffering, the degree of railroad company negligence, and the degree of employee negligence. Chicago FELA attorneys at Curcio Law Offices can analyze the details of your claim and help you determine just how much it is worth.
Severity of Injuries
Serious injuries that significantly disrupt one’s quality of life – such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, or amputations – will generally yield higher compensations than minor injuries.
The Extent of Disability
Injured railroad workers who suffer significant and lifelong disabilities often have the highest payouts from their FELA claims.
For example, railroad workers who suffer quadriplegia (complete paralysis from the neck down) are completely disabled, and therefore cannot work or care for themselves for the rest of their lives. They will need significant medical treatment, rehabilitation, and financial support to have some semblance of a normal life, all of which requires a lot of money. A FELA claim can offer a very high settlement which allows the worker to cover all their damages.
The Amount of Lost Wages
Railroad workers who have been injured on the job and are unable to return to work can claim compensation for both past and projected future earnings.
The Degree of Pain and Suffering
Suffering a railroad-related injury is not only physically painful and debilitating, but emotionally traumatic as well. Experienced FELA attorneys at Curcio Law Offices can help injured workers recover compensation for their psychological trauma and even mental health counseling costs.
The Degree and Nature of Railroad Employer Negligence
If the negligence of railroad companies directly contributed to the employee’s injury, it can increase the claim’s worth. Some forms of negligence may be worth more than others though. For example, railroad companies that blatantly violate safety statutes (and therefore injure their employees) may be worth more than companies that skip over certain aspects of employee training.
Whether You Acted Negligently
As stated previously, all a railroad worker has to prove in their FELA claim is that their employer was at least partially negligent. However, if an investigation of the claim reveals that the injured employee shared a large portion of negligence, their overall settlement may be a lot less than expected.
Recoverable Damages Under FELA
FELA claims allow injured workers to pursue a broad range of damages from railroad employers, including:
- Medical treatment costs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Caregiving expenses
- Expenses for assistive medical devices like wheelchairs or prosthetics
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent scarring, disfigurement, and/or disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Mental health counseling costs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses if the workplace injury results in wrongful death
Why You Need a Chicago FELA Lawyer
With FELA cases being so complex, the legal counsel of Chicago railroad injury lawyers becomes a necessity. An experienced attorney from Curcio Law Offices will:
- Provide guidance on legal options available to injured employees.
- Assist in proving the negligence of parties involved, be it railroad companies or fellow railroad employees.
- Advocate fiercely for fair compensation.
- Offer a free consultation to understand the depth of the railroad worker injury.
- Navigate the complexities of FELA lawsuits and Illinois state laws ensuring injured workers get maximum compensation.