Our client had worked as a freight train conductor for the CSX railroad corporation for more than 20 years when he suffered a disabling injury in March 2004 when the taxi van he was riding in crashed. The van ran into the back of a tractor-trailer after the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
The impact sent the van off the side of the road, and our client was taken to a local hospital with a fractured neck. Repairing the injury required delicate surgery on his cervical vertebrae.
Despite undergoing extensive physical rehab, functional capacity testing done prior to his planned return to work revealed our client to be unable to resume his duties as a conductor for CSX. While he could be cleared for light-to-medium duty, he would need to surrender his pay and seniority in order to continue working for the railroad.
Our client was 50 years old and had been earning just more that $50,000/year at the time of his injury. His age and taxi van crash-related disability left him unable to find a comparable job even though he had gone through a retraining program at a community college.
Key Legal Strategy
While this was a work-related injury because our railroad conductor client was traveling from a worksite, our personal injury law firm chose to focus on the liability of the taxi service that employed the van driver.
The company’s defense attorney, who was also representing the interests of CSX in this case, argued that our client deserved no compensation or damages because he “probably” was not wearing his seat belt. Our client did admit to also being asleep when the van crashed, but he testified that he was buckled up. No other clear evidence regarding seat belt use existed.
What our personal injury law firm did find from reviewing the taxi company’s records were likely violations of federal motor carrier safety regulations relating to the number of hours drivers were allowed to stay on duty. On the day of the crash that disabled our client, the driver was called in for a second shift after already working all night.
Florida laws may have allowed our client to ask for punitive damage if the hours-of-service violation and other violations of federal rules could be proven to a civil trial jury. Instead of pursuing that angle, our client agreed to early mediation, and the case was settled during October 2005 for an amount our client considered fair and just.
Neck injuries from motor vehicle accidents often leave victims unable to work and in need of medical care for the rest of their lives. Our Virginia-based railroad and personal injury lawyers welcome opportunities to help these individuals wherever they live.
Court and Date: 4th Judicial Circuit Court, Jacksonville, FL, Duval County, October 2005
Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, attorney