Our client suffered career-ending injuries while doing railroad track maintenance. The terms of the settlement agreement reached with the rail corporation prevent us from sharing information about the nature and severity of our client’s injuries, the location where the work-related injuries occurred, and the name of the defendant company. We cannot even describe what happened when our client became injured.
Suffice to say our Virginia-based personal injury law firm represented the injured track maintenance worker as they sought compensation for medical expenses, disability, lost wages, and pain and suffering through a lawsuit filed under provisions of the Federal Employers Liability Act. The FELA allows individuals who get injured or who develop occupational illnesses while doing work for a railroad that is engaged in interstate commerce to hold the company accountable for acting negligently and failing to protect their life or health. Employees and contractors have protections under the FELA.
Key Legal Strategy
The most-straightforward way to show that a railroad or its managers acted negligently is to document a violation of an applicable safety regulation. This is what our FELA lawsuit attorneys did in this case.
We reviewed maintenance records, obtained electronic communications, took statements from our client and their coworkers, and deposed company officials. We also obtained the services of an expert in safe track maintenance policies and procedures, as well as the services of other experts who performed detailed analyses of physical evidence and relevant documents.
Expert opinion and sworn testimony provided a great deal of evidence for multiple regulatory violations. Those violations created strict liability under FELA, meaning that the violations themselves were enough to make the rail corporation liable for compensating the injured track maintenance worker. Our attorneys did not need to show that railroad officials knew explicitly about any particular regulatory violation, only that the violation occurred and that the unresolved problem led directly to our client suffering an injury.
Knowing that a jury would almost definitely rule in favor of our client, the defendant company agreed to settle all our client’s claims about a month before the trial was scheduled to start. The total cash damages received by our client were $1 million.
Again, the terms of the settlement agreement compel us to keep all other details about this case confidential. Railroads increasing insist on complete confidentially in return for paying settlements. They may do this to keep stories of their negligence out of the media. They may also wish to make information on how other FELA claimants could succeed in their own cases difficult to discover. Whatever the reasoning, the demand for confidentiality does not actually stop an experienced and dedicated personal injury law firm from holding a rail corporation accountable and securing fair and just compensation for a client.
Date: Spring 2021
Staff: Attorneys Richard N. Shapiro and Randy Appleton with the assistance of Paula M. and Becky W.