Claims for Injuries From Fall While Escaping Locomotive Fire Settled for $700,000 | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia railroad injury client was working as a locomotive engineer when a fire broke out in the cab and burned him. He fell from the moving train while escaping the flames and smoke, severely injuring his right arm, wrist and hand.

Despite undergoing extensive orthopedic surgery, the railroad employee continued to experience significant impairment. After intensive physical therapy failed to restore the man’s grip strength and range of motion to the levels necessary to operate engine controls, our railroad injury client’s surgeon declared him medically disqualified from working as a locomotive engineer.

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Key Legal Strategy

To collect on his injury claims, our Virginia railroad injury client needed to show that the railroad corporation that employed him was negligent in some way, and also that the company’s negligence allowed the train engine compartment and fall to occur. We discovered that proof by reviewing locomotive inspection records and by deposing a corporate representative.

The records and testimony revealed multiple violations of the federal Locomotive Inspection Act. Under that law, any documented violation makes a railroad corporation strictly liable for injuries that rail employees suffer because of the failure to comply.

Once it realized that it could not deny its responsibility for compensating our Virginia railroad injury client for his medical bills, his permanent disability, and the career earnings he lost when he was forced to stop working as a locomotive engineer, the railroad corporation agreed to enter into mediation to determine a fair settlement amount.

Our railroad injury attorney prepared for the mediation by commissioning detailed illustrations of the damage to the disabled engineer’s hand, wrist and arm. Written descriptions of our client’s burn injuries and persistent physical limitations accompanied those pictures.

As a final method for substantiating our client’s request for a fair settlement, we asked a vocational counselor to prepare a report on how much money the man lost when his preventable work-related injuries forced him to retire early from his railroad career.

The company agreed to settle all claims for $700,000, which our Virginia railroad injury client found acceptable.

While less well-known than the Federal Employers Liability Act, the Locomotive Inspection Act offers powerful tools for holding railroads accountable for failing to maintain their equipment and protect their employees. As Virginia railroad injury attorneys, we use those tools to workers’ benefit.