When a railroad causes a dangerous condition that leads to an on the job injury to a worker, it’s clear that the injured worker can make a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). But what about when a worker has a hotel accident at the facility a railroad uses for its crew members to stay at?
In a recent case in Minneapolis, a worker was awarded $1.378 million against Union Pacific Railroad after a worker slipped on ice outside a hotel. All cases are unique and different and we cannot guarantee the result of any given case.
Details of the case were posted by FELA attorney Fredric A. Bremseth on an ARLA discussion board. ARLA is the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys.
His client, a Union Pacific worker, was awarded $1,378,442 against the railroad by a jury after a six-day trial in Hennepin County.
In November 2014, the worker was deadheaded to the New Victorian Inn in Sioux City, Iowa. It was the hotel Union Pacific chose for its crews. The engineer was to stay overnight and catch a train back to St. James in Minnesota the next day.
However, a hotel guest found him lying face up in a patch of ice in the hotel’s parking lot that night. The guest revived him and took him to the front desk where he received first aid.
The woman at the front desk said he seemed confused and there was some bleeding from the back of his head. There were no witnesses to the fall.
The next morning the engineer had no memory of what happened the night before. He was able to operate his train home. His problems didn’t end there. He complained of a severe headache and confusion the next day.
Hotel Accident on Ice Caused Cognitive Problems
The railroad worker’s wife took him to see the family doctor who diagnosed a concussion and told him to stay home from work for a few days and rest. His symptoms lingered and he was later referred to a neurologist for further evaluation. CAT and MRI scans were normal. However, the engineer was referred for neuropsychological testing which found some mild cognitive deficits.
Although he followed all medical advice, the engineer failed to fully recover from the mild TBI he suffered and was unable to return to work as an engineer
In a subsequent lawsuit against Union Pacific, the railroad tried to blame a prior motorcycle accident with a head injury that the worker suffered on his condition.
Lawyers acting for Union Pacific and the hotel claimed there was little or no snow or ice in the hotel parking lot that day or night to cause the hotel accident. They backed up the claim with weather data that showed only 0.4 of an inch of snow had fallen. Hotel staff said it was a mere dusting.
However, a fellow crew member of the engineer, who left on an earlier train, testified that when he departed at 7 a.m. the next day there was snow and ice in the parking lot.
Congratulations to Fredric A. Bremseth for obtaining this jury verdict. Railroads fight cases like this hard and they often end up before a jury. The case demonstrates how a railroad can be liable for a hotel accident when there is negligence on behalf of a hotel and it’s the place it tells its workers to stay at.
If you were injured while working for a railroad I would like to hear from you. Contact our FELA injury lawyers at (866) 455-6657.