A former rail maintenance contract worker has received a multimillion dollar jury award for disabling injuries he suffered while welding tracks for BNSF in Missouri. The court case was decided on June 26, 2015, and the incident that left the man suffering a number of serious physical injuries and, later, mental disorders occurred in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri (MO).
The man who cannot return to his previous position had been operating a remote control welding rig similar to the one demonstrated above. A collision with rocks piled too close to the rail bed caused the man to fall from a platform attached to the welding rig and get dragged some distance. Here is how a local newspaper summarized the results of the on-the-job accident:
[He] suffered a fractured pelvis and hip and had to have part of his small intestine removed. He also had ongoing nerve pain in his left leg and foot. He is unable to do the heavy work he had done before his injury but was able to return to office work eight months after his injury. He also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression due to his pain and the limitations from his injuries.
While BNSF argued that the contractor had caused his own injuries by acting carelessly, jurors ruled that the company had failed to pile the rocks far enough from the right-of-way. BNSF was also found liable for ignoring federal safety rules that require handrails on moving platforms and raised walkways.
I congratulate Steven Groves and Linda Powers of Groves Powers, LLC of St. Louis and Joe Goff, Sr. of Reeves and Goff of Farmington, who represented the disabled rail maintenance worker and succeeded in securing the $4.4 million award. As a Virginia-based personal injury lawyer who has helped many individuals hurt and killed while working for rail companies, I know that corporations like BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern too often put the lives of their employees and contractors at risk unnecessarily. Holding negligent and heedless rail companies accountable for endangering the people who literally create their profits is always worth the effort.