Virginia Beach & Norfolk Railroad Accident Injury Attorneys

Whether it was a railroad accident or disease, a derailment, or a railroad crossing accident, one of these events may be the reason you are searching on our railroad accident info page. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a railroad accident in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, or another location in Virginia or beyond, we are here to help. This page was created to help those suffering after a railroad accident, whether you were hurt while working at the rail yard or you developed an occupational disease such as mesothelioma, COPD, or another form of cancer.

Leaders in Railroad Injury Law

Firm partner Richard N. Shapiro has twice served as Chair of the Railroad Law Section of nation’s largest trial lawyers association, specifically the American Association for Justice. In addition, Rick is the co-author of a legal treatise on railroad law titled, Railroad Health and Safety; a Litigators Guide. Both Rick and Randy Appleton are recognized as national authorities on railroad worker injury law possessing in-depth knowledge of the FELA statute. In fact, both Rick and Randy possess more than 50 years of combined legal experience to each railroad injury or railroad disease case. Both attorneys have handled hundreds of railroad injury cases throughout the eastern United States and achieved results for numerous clients.

Our Virginia railroad accident injury lawyers offer two downloadable legal guides focused on railroad worker injury law. We can send one, or both, of these guides in PDF format to your e-mail inbox.

The first guide focuses on the common tricks and tactics used by railroad claims adjusters to try and reduce or deny an injured rail worker’s claim.

The second guide focuses on the unique legal rights available to injured rail workers, including the rights available under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

Sample of Our Virginia Beach Personal Injury Law Firm’s Railroad Accident Case Results 

Railroad Worker Injury/FELA Information

Our law firm also publishes information on a site dedicated exclusively to railroad accident and FELA law.  If you’re curious to know what types of cases we’ve handled, our lawyers are seasoned in these, and many other facets of railroad injury law:

It has been our privilege to represent trainmen, brakeman/conductors, engineers, carmen, signalmen, machinists, maintenance-of-way-workers, victims of railroad derailments and crossing collisions, as well as their families and friends on railroad cases or even injury cases unrelated to the rail industry. As a result, our firm is well known to thousands of railroad workers and fellow injury attorneys throughout the eastern region of the United States as a highly qualified law firm in the area of railroad injury law.

virginia beach railroad accident attorney

Liability in a Virginia Railroad Accident

After a railroad accident in Virginia, there may be multiple liable parties. Knowing whom you can hold responsible will depend on the unique facts of your case but can include, for example:

The Train Operator

If an error by the train operator or their negligence was responsible for the railroad accident, they could be found liable. For instance:

  • Operating the train while distracted, fatigued, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Carelessness (e.g., forgetting to turn on a signal warning)
  • Traveling at an unsafe speed.

In any of these situations, the train operator would be partially or entirely responsible. However, due to the doctrine of vicarious liability, the railroad company will be liable for an accident caused by the negligence of anyone acting on the company’s behalf.

Railroad Company

The company that owns the railway lines can be found liable for the negligence of any employees or for an accident caused by their own failure to stop a preventable accident. For example, if an accident is caused by their failure to regularly inspect and repair tracks and switches, negligent hiring or failure to perform background checks, failure to provide adequate training to staff, negligent security, negligent supervision, and more.

Passenger

If another passenger caused or contributed to your railroad injury, they may be personally liable. For example, acts of physical assault, pushing you onto the tracks, etc. However, in some cases, the railroad company can also be liable, for instance, if their negligent security contributed to your injury.

Railroad Product Manufacturers and Distributors

If your accident was caused by a defective part or product used in constructing or repairing the railroads or trains, the product’s manufacturer or distributor could be liable. Parts that are critical to a train operating safely, such as the brakes, wheels, steering apparatus, or railroad tracks, can lead to a catastrophic accident if they are defective.

What Compensation Can Be Recovered for a Train Accident in Virginia?

Victims of a train accident in Virginia caused by the negligence of another party have the right to recover compensation for their losses, which may include:

  • Medical Bills: The cost of your initial medical treatment and expected costs for future care you may require, such as physical therapy, prescription medications, surgeries, home modifications, etc.
  • Lost Income: Compensation for your current and future lost wages and benefits because of your injury.
  • Property Damage: If any of your personal belongings were damaged or destroyed in the accident.
  • Diminished Earning Capacity: If your injury has affected your ability to earn an income in the future.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain you have had to endure and any emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc.)
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: The impact your injury will have on your overall quality of life.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional compensation that is only awarded in cases to punish a defendant (at-fault party) who acted with an extreme disregard for the safety of others.

The more severe, debilitating, and long-lasting your injury is, the more compensation you are likely to receive.

Common Types of Railroad Accidents

Railroad workers can sustain injuries in a wide variety of ways. This can include injuries that occur as a result of a train collision, derailment, or explosion. However, railroad worker injuries can also occur in the same ways that other types of work injuries occur, including slip and fall incidents, objects falling and striking a worker, getting caught in between objects, etc.

Some of the most common causes of railroad worker injuries include the following:

  • Improper training of workers
  • Defective equipment
  • Trains moving too quickly
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Poor lighting
  • Improper procedures
  • Operator error
  • Failure to maintain equipment
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or substances

Injuries Sustained by Railroad Workers

Injured railroad workers can sustain a wide range of injuries as a result of workplace hazards or exposure. In some cases, these injuries are traumatic in nature, including the following:

  • Lacerations or puncture wounds
  • Crush injuries or amputations
  • Spinal cord trauma with paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Open head wounds
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Burn injuries

Occupational Diseases and Cancers

We also know that railroad worker injuries and illnesses can occur as a result of exposure to unsafe elements as well as repetitive motions. These injuries can include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Lung cancers
  • Mesothelioma
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Joint injuries

A major issue in securing compensation for occupational diseases and occupational cancers is proving the illness arose as a result of workplace exposure or activities. Often, railroad workers do not receive a diagnosis for these injuries until long after they have been on the job or even after retirement. The railroad and their insurance carriers will likely try to pinpoint the occupational disease or cancer to another cause.

FELA Claims in Virginia

When railroad workers are injured while on the job, they can secure compensation through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), not a traditional workers’ compensation system. In most work injury situations, the employee can receive compensation regardless of who caused the injury. However, with a Virginia FELA claim, injured workers have to show that the railroad was negligent in some way before they can recover compensation for their losses.

If successful, an injured railroad worker has the right to recover the following damages:

  • Medical bills not paid by the railroad or the railroad’s health insurance
  • Anticipated future medical bills and related expenses
  • Past and future lost wages and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

When a worker’s injury is permanently debilitating to the point that they are unable to return to work at the railroad, they can file for Railroad Retirement Board sickness and disability benefits.

Attorneys Possess Immense Experience in Railroad Worker Injury Law

Richard Shapiro, one of our firm FELA attorneys is the co-author of “Railroad Health & Safety- A Litigator’s Guide,” one of leading treatises on railroad injury law, found in the nation’s law libraries (72 Am. Jur. Trials 1). Furthermore, Rick has been named to the “Best Lawyers In America” publication (Railroad Law; since 2010). Also, Rick served as an officer and Chair of the American Association for Justice Railroad Section, a group of some of the nation’s best FELA and railroad crossing accident attorneys.

Fellow firm attorney, Randy Appleton, has over 25 years of railroad injury litigation experience, including trials in numerous states. Randy is recognized as a Virginia “Super Lawyer” in Law & Politics Magazine (since ’11) and is listed as a “Best Lawyer” for personal injury law (since ’10).

Firm Supports the Railroad Community

We are committed to railroad workers and this includes previous charitable contributions to the Yardlimits Fallen Brother Fund.

Our firm has also been proud to help families harmed by railroad companies’ neglect and wrongdoing at grade crossings in Virginia, and beyond. If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a car or truck hit by a train, contact our firm. We will fight to hold the railroad responsible for bad corporate decisions to skimp on safety for motorists crossing the rail tracks.

Richard N. Shapiro

by Richard N. Shapiro

Personal Injury, Car Accidents & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia


For additional info, you can read our Virginia railroad accident injury blog.