By John Cooper, Railroad Injury Lawyer
When things go wrong on the railroad workers can often suffer very serious injuries that can affect or destroy their quality of life.
At the end of last year a jury in Illinois handed down a $22.47 million verdict in the case of a Norfolk Southern employee whose heel was torn off when two railroad cars collided on what was meant to be parallel tracks. The jury found changes to the yard that made it more unsafe had contributed to the accident.
All cases are different and we cannot guarantee the results of a case. It was one of the largest verdicts on the railroad last year in a FELA case. John M. Power and George T. Brugess, the plaintiff’s attorneys, said in a press release issued after the verdict that it “sends a clear message that railroads must be as concerned about safety as they are profits.”
The accident occurred on September 2, 2011 when a conductor was working in a rail yard in Illinois where he was reorganizing railroad cars on several tracks. It left the conductor with serious injuries. He suffered a traumatic amputation of his left heel at the scene. On arrival at the hospital, doctors found that the back half of his foot had no skin covering it and he had suffered from severed nerves, torn ligaments and tendons. He required a 15 square-inch skin graft to be cut out from his thigh to cover an area of his heel. The injury led to many complications. The worker was not able to bear weight on his foot for more than two years after the accident. Later, the graft ripped open, causing repeated infections that continue to plague his life. Ongoing problems dogged the worker after his accident.
The complaint filed against Norfolk Southern claimed that less than two months before the accident, the railroad replaced switches and track in the yard, creating a safety hazard for workers. The railroad had turned previously parallel tracks into a dangerous trap for workers because they were too closely aligned.
Lawyers for the defense argued the plaintiff parked cars in an area that was a, “no parking zone,” and was responsible for the hazardous condition that caused the injury. However, dash-cam footage from the train showing that other engineers in the yard had also left cars on parallel tracks, contradicting the railroad’s claim that the conductor was acting differently. The jury agreed that the railroad was responsible for creating the dangerous conditions in the yard and failing to properly inform employees of the hazards.
The jury returned a verdict of $22,470,102 in favor of the plaintiff and against Norfolk Southern Railway Company. The verdict allocated this severely injured worker $474,102 for future medical expenses; $1.5 million in lost benefits and earnings; $1.5 million for his disfigurement; and $19 million for pain and suffering.
This case again illustrated some of the dangers that workers face in railroad yards. Often a railroad is responsible for hazardous conditions in roads that kill and injure workers. Last year a worker was killed in CSX’s Acca yard in Richmond, Virginia.
If you have been hurt on the railroad or lost a loved one, call our railroad worker injury lawyers at 866-455-6657 for a free consultation.