railroad van crash

Railroad workers are constantly moving freight around the country by train. These workers often require ground transportation at the start or end of their work shift when they are working at away-from-home railroad terminals. Additionally, railroad conductors and engineers regularly need to be picked up from trains after they have worked the maximum twelve hours allowed by “Hours of Service” laws but before they make it to their final rail yard destination.

While some railroad companies transport crews using clerks who are actually employed by the railroad, most larger railroads (ie- Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation, and BNSF) contract with third-party taxi companies, such as Hallcon and Professional Transportation Inc (PTI), to provide this transportation.

Railroad workers who are injured while riding as passengers in these vans are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Sometimes these van wrecks are caused by speeding or reckless driving, other times they are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep due to the irregular hours worked, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What is important to know is that if you are a railroad worker who is injured while riding as a passenger in a transportation van, you are entitled to compensation for any injuries!

Over the years, railroads have resorted to creative tactics to evade liability. However, courts have regularly ignored the railroads’ bogus arguments and found that they are responsible for any injuries sustained when transportation vans driven by railroad employees or by third-party taxi companies are involved in wrecks. A railroad’s attempts to dodge liability may include arguments that the railroad worker was not on duty at the time, that the injury was the solely fault of the third-party taxi company or other driver, or that the injury was somehow the fault of the railroad worker even though he/she was not driving.

Courts around the country have consistently dispensed with each of these frivolous arguments and found that railroad taxi van drivers and third-party taxi drivers are subject to the strict safety requirements of the FELA. This provides very favorable treatment to injured railroad workers because it reduces the amount of evidence it takes to prove their injury case. Under the FELA, the railroad and the taxi company are both responsible for all injuries caused by any negligence, even in the slightest. This law means that the railroad is responsible for any and all unsafe actions of the van driver, even if employed by a third party. As such there is no limit on the amount of the recovery given that state insurance caps on recovery do not apply!

If you are a railroad worker who has been injured in a transportation van wreck, please call Doran and Murphy PLLC at 1-800-374-2144 to learn more about the special protections you have under the law!