Railroad Machine Operator Injuries


Most employees rely on workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer injuries or illness while on the job. However, for injured railroad employees, workers’ compensation is not available. Instead, those individuals must look to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) for compensation and medical care.

Injured railroad workers must meet specific qualifications to be eligible for FELA benefits. They must provide evidence that negligence on the part of the rail carrier resulted in the injuries. Most railroad workers, such as machine operators, sustain severe injuries such as cancer, head trauma, and broken bones. An experienced railroad injury lawyer can be instrumental in helping injury victims prove negligence and obtain FELA benefits. Speak to an attorney to learn about reporting machine operator injuries.

The Common Types of Injuries and Damages in FELA Claims

Machine operators can suffer various injuries when working on and around various Maintenance of Way equipment as well as locomotives and trains. These catastrophic injuries can include head and neck injuries, internal injuries, and broken bones. In some cases, accidents can result in amputations, burn injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

Aside from accidents resulting in injuries, machine operators and other railroad workers suffer constant exposure to toxic chemicals and other substances that led to significant illnesses such as cancer. These substances that abound in railroad yards include ballast dust, silica sand, creosote, lead, asbestos, and benzene. Prolonged exposure during years of working in and around trains can lead to chronic illnesses such as cancers and lung disease, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.

Reporting Machine Operator Injuries

All railroad workers are at risk for severe injuries and even death when working on the railroad. Injuries to machine operators may occur in various situations, including:

  • Employees operating faulty or defective equipment
  • Employers providing insufficient or inappropriate safety devices
  • Employees failing to receive the proper training to use heavy and often dangerous equipment
  • Employers failing to conduct periodic safety inspections or enforce safety rules and regulations

Machine operators and other railroad workers who suffer injuries in the workplace must promptly report the accident to their supervisor. Delays in reporting can lead to denied claims and allegations that individuals suffered the injuries outside of work. Supervisors also must report the work-related injuries to the railroad employer, although they may be reluctant to do so in fear of tarnishing their clean safety record.

Injury victims typically must provide a statement about how the accident occurred and what injuries they suffered as a result of the accident. In this statement, injured parties must take care to place the blame for the accident on some action that the railroad company took or failed to take. Injured workers also must emphasize that they complied with all applicable safety rules and regulations throughout the incident and reasonably exercised due care for safety purposes.

Proving Negligence Under FELA

Workers’ compensation claims require no evidence of fault on the part of the employer. However, FELA claims under 45 United States Code § 51 require proof that the employer was negligent in creating the conditions that led to the machine operator injuries. The employer may have directed employees to operate under unsafe working conditions or failed to maintain a safe workplace for all employees. The employer also may have failed to provide employees with sufficient training or safety equipment to protect themselves from harm.

Whether the injuries occur in the railroad yard, on a train, or near the train tracks, machine operators and other employees have the right to seek compensation from their employers. All too often, railway carriers may decline to fully cover injuries or place blame on the employees for their injuries. When this situation occurs, individuals may need the assistance of legal counsel to prove their claims.

Seek Help from a Railroad Injury Attorney

Devastating accidents and illnesses may develop due to work in the railroad industry, especially over long periods of time. The most common type of machine operator injuries can be highly debilitating, affect their quality of life, and lead to an inability to work. Seeking compensation under FELA for machine operator injuries can be the most effective way of getting the financial support and medical attention that you need.

Protecting your legal rights while dealing with a severe injury or chronic illness can be challenging. Seeking legal advice from the outset of your claim may be vital to reaching a favorable resolution of your case. Taking these steps also may allow you to hold the railroad company responsible for their misdeeds. Schedule a consultation today.

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Coronavirus Update

The events of the past several weeks have been extraordinary. Staying safe and doing our part to contain the coronavirus are a priority for all of us. At Doran and Murphy we remain committed to serving the needs of railroad workers throughout the country even through these difficult and unprecedented times. To that end, our lawyers and staff are working from their homes to ensure that our railroad clients receive the attention they have worked so hard to deserve. You can be assured that wherever you are, we are here for you too. We are available by phone, email or by video conference to consult with you on any injury or cancer related to your railroad work. Call us. You will receive the same first-rate service that we have always provided. Most importantly at this time, follow the coronavirus guidelines established by the CDC and stay safe.