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Unpredictability of Serious Railroad Injuries-Federal Regulatory Defect Causes Partial Amputation

Posted on Apr 16, 2007
As a personal injury lawyer practicing railroad injury law, I never cease to be amazed in the many different ways serious and catastrophic personal injuries occur on the railroad even when the railroad and workers have safety in mind. As a matter of fact, despite any railroad’s safety efforts, railroad injuries will keep occurring as long as there are operations and sudden incidents cause human beings to take precautionary actions. Michael Olley of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area did a fine job in a case for a forty-four year old railroad brakeman named Kumar who was catastrophically injured while involved in helping his engineer shove cars in a yard track area. Kumar was at the stub end of the track and was supposed to count the cars as they were pushed toward him by the engineer who was pushing a total of five cars. Because the engineer did not “stretch” the cars to make sure they were all coupled together, the fourth and fifth cars actually were not coupled. As the train pushed toward the stub end, Kumar radioed the engineer to stop the train because he was worried that some of the tank cars possibly containing chlorine gas that would be released if the train collided with the last car and derailed. So, when the train did not stop, Kumar tried to board one of the tank cars and apply the hand brake. However, in this sudden effort, he was moving from the car’s side ladder to the end ladder, but his hand suddenly became caught and entrapped between a defective rung/handhold of the car and when he pulled his hand rapidly to free it, he lost his balance and fell under the wheels of the rolling train car and suffered a traumatic amputation of the left foot and toes of his right foot. Unfortunately, Kumar is required to use a left leg prosthetic device and suffered through multiple surgeries and skin grafts. Despite the fact that Kumar was taking warranted safety actions to prevent a more serious catastrophe, Defendant Norfolk Southern contended that the Kumar violated various company rules by boarding the moving car and that he caused his own injury and that the railroad was not negligent. Even after Kumar and his attorney obtained convincing testimony, including how the handhold or rung violated federal safety appliance act regulations, the railroad kept up its attack but at the voluntary mediation, the case settled for 5.5 million dollars. Again, railroad injuries and accidents are unpredictable and Kumar was trying to follow all appropriate rules, and as a matter of fact, was trying to prevent a serious safety hazard when he was hurt. Despite these efforts, the attack by the railroad against him was unrelenting until the moment the case was settled. It is extremely important in railroad injury litigation to have a lawyer who is experienced in all facets of railroad operations and who is well veresed in the appropriate railroad operations, track safety and Federal Railroad Administration regulations. Often, there are regulations that may apply to the circumstances of a personal injury that are never obvious to a railroad worker involved in the accident. I have been involved in a number of cases where it was only after extensive research and consultations with various experts that we realized what seemed obvious, that there were one or more railroad regulations involved which were violated by the railroad. Many times the railroad is aware of the regulatory violation but “hides the ball’ in every way possible and only extensive research and investigation reveals where that ball is hidden. Browse our law firm website at www.hsinjurylaw.com for more real case examples and articles relating to railroad injuries and accidents and safety relating to the railroads.
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