Jury Awards Freight Train Conductor Who Suffered Back Injuries in Crash at Crossing $650,000 | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia railroad injury law firm client suffered a concussion and lower back injuries from a crash in a Portsmouth, VA, shipping container yard. She was working as a conductor trainee for CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) at the time of collision, riding on the side of a slow-moving rail car.

The force of a hostler truck owned by CSX Intermodal, Inc. striking her train knocked our client onto the ground, where she landed on her back and buttocks. The railroad corporation and the trucking company do business separately.

Originally treated for heavy bruising, the CSXT conductor trainee continued experiencing back pain. Her family physician eventually referred her for an orthopedic consult and an MRI.

Despite her pain and limited mobility, our railroad injury client attempted to keep her job as a conductor trainee. She agreed after several weeks, however, to transfer to a clerk’s position.

Citing difficulties with doing the new job, she voluntarily resigned from CSXT approximately three months after being injured in the train-truck crash.

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Key Legal Strategy

Acting on behalf of the former CSXT conductor trainee, our Virginia railroad injury attorney filed a personal injury lawsuit against CSX Intermodal. The trucking company initially refused to settle disability and lost wages claims from our client because it argued that the woman could not produce objective evidence of her back injuries or of the problems those injuries caused her.

The company went so far as to claim that MRI images showing damage to the woman’s spinal discs revealed a preexisting condition. CSX Intermodal also claimed that its truck driver’s actions could not be blamed for knocking the woman off the rail car during the railroad crossing collision. It based this false conclusion on the observations that her train was moving at 4 mph and the drop to the ground was about 18 inches. These circumstances, company representatives stated, indicated that our railroad injury client could have safely dismounted from the train.

As a final defense against its legal responsibility for paying injury claims, CSX Intermodal presented testimony from an orthopedist who claimed to believe that our client should have had no problem returning to working as a conductor trainee and should have suffered no ongoing pain and disability.

Our Virginia railroad injury lawyer defeated each of these arguments. Medical records and statements from the injured woman’s own doctor convinced jury members that his client’s back problems did exist, started with the crash and fall, and continued causing her pain and disability. Those accounts were corroborated by sworn statements from the woman’s family, friends and co-workers.

A vocational expert also testified that the injured woman stood to earn $400,000 less as an office worker outside the railroad industry than she would have earned if she had become a full-time train conductor for CSXT.

Just before the trial concluded, CSX Intermodal finally offered our Virginia railroad injury client a settlement of $30,000. The injured woman rejected that, and, after deliberating for about three hours, jurors returned a verdict in her favor. The case resulted in a $650,000 award to our client.

Having spent more than 30 years representing injured railroad employees, our Virginia personal injury attorneys have encountered many corporate defenses that amount to, “The person suing us is lying.” Few such attempts with this strategy have been so blatant. We are always glad to fight for workers who get harmed by corporate negligence, and we take a special interest in cases involving back and neck injuries.

Court: Portsmouth, VA

Staff: Staff attorney