Largest Railroad Worker Injury and Disease Jury Verdicts Reviewed | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Many injured railroad workers (e.g., engineers, conductors, car repair, track maintenance and others) for big railroads like Norfolk Southern (NS), CSX, Burlington Northern, etc. are hesitant to take legal action against their employer. Many believe it will cost them a ton of money to litigate their case and the chances of actually succeeding are microscopic(our personal injury law firm has a no recovery, no fee policy meaning you pay nothing until a recovery is secured).

Our railroad worker injury law firm wanted to dispel this notion, which is why we published this in-depth review of some of the biggest jury verdicts against Norfolk Southern railroad that were levied across the country. Many of these multi-million dollar verdicts were levied because the railroad decided to make lowball offers at the beginning of litigation. This is why it is important for railroad workers to have quality representation, so an experienced railroad worker injury attorney can help determine whether a settlement offer is reasonable or if a jury trial is needed to get the compensation you or your loved one deserves.

Though, we must remind all of our readers that these large, million dollar jury verdicts are not indicative of the type of jury verdict or settlement you could obtain since every case is different. However, these case results do illustrate that you can obtain  a successful outcome against a major railroad like Norfolk Southern:  

Record-Setting $60 Million (with interest) Awarded to Clerk Who Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury

Note: This is one of the biggest verdicts in Virginia history and our firm handled the case. Read a more in-depth analysis here.

Occupation: Gas station clerk

Nature of injury: Our Virginia personal injury law firm, and co-counsel, represented a gas station clerk who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in a Norfolk Southern train accident. The train derailed and crashed into the our client’s place of business. In the blink of an eye, his life was irrevocably changed. Our client suffered a myriad of orthopedic injuries and a traumatic brain injury. We understood the impact of this horrific accident and worked tirelessly during a three-week trial to obtain this record-setting, historic Virginia jury verdict.

$8.6 Million Jury Verdict in Lung Cancer Wrongful Death Case

Occupation: brakeman/switchman

Facts: Our client was a brakeman/switchman who died as a result of developing lung cancer. He was exposed to asbestos, diesel fumes, and radiation during his 40-year career with L & N/CSX, mainly in and around Knoxville, TN. The switchman also worked on asbestos-laden locomotives and inhaled diesel exhaust on switching engines for decades. After his client, Rick Shapiro represented the estate in a railroad wrongful death case. The trial was held in Knoxville, TN and lasted two weeks. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate for $8.6 million. CSX appealed and the case as ultimately settled confidentially post-appeal.

$5 Million Jury Verdict in Lung Disease Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Occupation: carman

Facts: Our client worked at Norfolk Southern’s Lambert’s Point car repair shop between 1979 and 1990 often servicing and changing out asbestos-containing brake shoes at the shop. In 1988, Norfolk Southern hired abatement contractors to remove asbestos from the car shop. Once our client became critically ill and was in hospice care in 2017, he suspected asbestos caused his lung disease. After his death, our client’s daughter obtained an autopsy that revealed asbestos was in fact in his lung tissue. The daughter contacted Randy Appleton, one of the firm partners, who accepted the case after reviewing the autopsy. The railroad denied all liability and pointed to our client’s smoking history as the basis for his lung disease. After a six-day trial, a jury in Norfolk ruled in favor of our client and awarded $5 million in damages (with 80 percent contributory negligence). 

$4.5 Million Awarded to Norfolk Southern Employee Victim Who Suffered Ankle Injury

Worker’s occupation: Conductor and brakeman

Nature of injury: The NS conductor/brakeman was using a remote control device to couple two freight cars to an engine when he tripped on a cross tie, which had been placed about three feet from the tracks and had steel rails stacked on top of it. Weeds that had grown up around the cross tie which obstructed the workers’ view and contributed to his ankle injury. The worker developed complex regional pain syndrome, a condition that left him unable to work and in almost constant pain.

$3.4 Million Awarded to Norfolk Southern Worker Who Suffered Debilitating Back Injury

Worker’s occupation: Conductor

Nature of injury: The NS conductor was riding in a locomotive unit when it derailed. He sustained a severe back injury that required surgery and is now disabled from his former job as a railroad conductor, but can work in light duty jobs.

$3 Million Awarded to Norfolk Southern Worker Who Suffered a Herniated Disc and Low Back Injuries

Railroad worker’s occupation: Track supervisor

Nature of injury: The track supervisor was jerked backwards to avoid falling from a ruptured slurry pipe  and immediately felt pain in his back. The injured worker sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a herniated disc, which resulted in pain in his back and left leg. He attempted to return to work after surgery, but was restricted in lifting, bending, and stooping. He was diagnosed with twenty percent impairment to his lumbar spine.

$2.3 Million Awarded to Norfolk Southern Employee Who Suffered Awful Knee Injury

Railroad worker’s occupation: Brakeman/switchman

Nature of injury: The NS brakeman slipped and fell as he tried to mount several runaway railcars in the hopes of preventing a train wreck. He suffered a serious knee injury which required two operations and may require knee replacement surgery.

$1.9 Million Awarded to Norfolk Southern Worker Who Died from Asbestos Exposure-Related Mesothelioma Lung Cancer

Railroad worker’s occupation: Trainman

Nature of injury: The trainman slipped from a hopper car that was covered with kaolin clay. He suffered permanent back injuries. NS only offered $150,000 to settle before trial. During the trial, the Railroad raised its offer to $350,000. Following a three day trial, the jury deliberated for less than thirty minutes before returning this nearly $2 million award.



Many of these million dollar jury verdicts focused on personal injuries to a railroad worker’s lower back, knee, neck, etc. but many workers are stricken with life-threatening illnesses like lung cancer and the incurable mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure while working for a railroad. If you’re looking for case results, including both multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, related to railroad-related cancers, take a moment to look over this page.

Also, take a moment to review this page, which features some of the biggest, million dollar settlements and verdicts in Virginia.