Impact of Safety Appliance Act on Railroad Worker Injury Cases | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

There are many railroad worker injury cases that our Virginia (VA) personal injury law firm has handled involving the Safety Appliance Act (SAA) and other important federal regulations such as the Locomotive Inspection Act. Often, our railroad clients do not know that there is a relevant safety regulation or statute that applies to the way in which they were injured, and this is an important reason to seek out a qualified railroad worker injury law firm that has experience litigating these types of claims.  Here’s some important information about the SAA and how it can help in your injury claim.


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The SAA sets forth a broad range of regulations that apply to virtually every type of train car, and some locomotive engines, used by railroads. The SAA establishes various conditions that must exist without a defect or insufficiency on railroad cars. The following is a partial list of some of the conditions and things that must be safe:


  • All ladders/handholds must be secure and have no insufficiency;
  • Manual brakes must work properly and have no improper condition;
  • The overall air brake system on the train must work properly;
  • All walkways must be properly constructed and there are precise regulations relating to many details;
  • No oil or slippery substances on locomotive walking areas;
  • There can be no broken parts or insufficient conditions relating to the train car wheels, trucks, gears and similar components.
  • There are many other regulations not outlined here.


When a railroad worker suffers an injury due to a violation of one of these conditions or a defect on a train car this constitutes a regulatory violation creating strict liability on the railroad. Many state and federal court cases confirm that a regulatory violation does not need to involve an actual defect – just in insufficiency or improper condition. Such a violation means that a railroad worker injury attorney has no duty to show advance knowledge from the railroad,  or railroad supervisor, before the injury occurred. 


The SAA establishes that the regulatory violation is absolute and complete when it is found that the railroad worker’s injury was caused by an improper condition or defect. This means that, when a regulatory violation is established, the main issue in a railroad worker injury claim becomes fair compensation.