Long Island Railroad Accident Attorney
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is a transportation staple in New York. Thousands of commuters use the LIRR every day. Keeping such a major railroad in operation takes a great deal of work from thousands of different people. From the foreman to the train dispatcher, there are many workers and moving parts involved in the LIRR. Unfortunately, workers sustain serious injuries while at work every year. The railroad is a hazardous industry with plenty of opportunities for accidents. If you recently sustained an injury or a loved one died while working on the LIRR, contact a Long Island railroad accident attorney at Rosenberg & Cluck, LLP.
About the Long Island Railroad
The LIRR has been in operation since 1836. It is currently the busiest commuter railroad in North America. The LIRR runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and transports more than 330,000 passengers per week. There are more than 700 miles of track for the LIRR, with 124 train stations and a total fleet of around 1,160 railcars. The hub of most railroad activities lies at the Jamaica Station in Queens. There are two other prominent stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) owns the LIRR and employs around 77,340 workers. The LIRR currently receives about 10% of the MTA’s total budget – the equivalent of about $1,538 million. The LIRR compensates some workers $200,000–$300,000 and more per year. Much of this income stems from overtime and extra pay for certain tasks. Despite lucrative pay and benefits, many workers still complain about dangers of the job. Worker injury and illness lawsuits against the LIRR have led to millions in damages over the years.
Workers have filed lawsuits against the LIRR and MTA in the past for train collisions, run-over accidents, and equipment-related injuries. Railroads are dangerous work environments that involve moving vehicles, heavy machinery, and long hours. While not every railroad worker injury and death is the fault of the Railroad Company, those related to negligence often are. For example, worker injuries related to improper training or supervision. Even inherently dangerous workplaces must abide by rules and regulations to promote employee safety. Failure to do so, resulting in railroad accidents, may be grounds for lawsuits.
Types of Railroad Worker Injuries
The dangerous nature of a railroad job means workers face the possibility of an injury every time they clock in at work. Traumatic personal injuries can take many forms, but there are several railroad worker injuries that are more common than others. Some of these injuries can result in chronic pain or permanent disability. Working on the LIRR comes with the risk of a number of different injuries, including:
- Broken bones. LIRR workers can slip and fall on slippery substances or while traversing ballasts. This can lead to fractures and broken bones. Broken bones take weeks to months to heal, costing the worker significant wages.
- Head and brain injuries. Slip and falls, objects falling on the worker, and acts of violence can lead to head injuries like concussions and brain penetration. Severe concussions can lead to temporary and permanent brain damage.
- Spinal cord injuries. Bad falls and struck-by accidents can damage the delicate spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries can result in loss of movement and sensation below the point of injury.
- Burns. Railroad workers have to work with hot metal surfaces and electrical equipment, as well as chemical solvents. From scalds to explosions, workers face a number of burn risks on a railroad.
- Disfigurement. If a worker survives a serious accident like getting struck by a train, run over, or badly burned, he/she may suffer permanent disfigurement like scars or amputations.
- Illness. There have been railroad worker claims in the past regarding asbestos exposure on railroads. Asbestos can cause respiratory problems, loss of lung function, disability, and death. It has also been linked to some cancers of the lungs.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Not all injuries on the railroad stem from trauma. Repetitive motions workers must make all day, every day can lead to muscle and tendon injuries as well as bone fractures from overuse.
No matter what type of injury a railroad worker suffers while working in the LIRR, he/she should seek legal advice from a Long Island personal injury lawyer experienced in FELA claims. Workers have rights within the workplace under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, workers can seek compensation for injuries during work-related activities with the court system.
What Are FELA Claims?
The Federal Employer’s Liability Act came into existence in 1908 to give a federal option for legal recovery to injured workers. FELA will cover almost any type of injury a railroad worker suffers on the job, if the worker can prove the railroad contributed to the injury. FELA is similar to workers’ compensation, except that FELA is a system based on fault. Suing in a state or federal court is an option workers have through FELA but not with workers’ compensation. To file a claim through FELA, an LIRR worker must have evidence that the railroad company, a coworker, an agent, a contractor, or a faulty piece of equipment caused or contributed to the accident and injuries.
With a FELA claim, a worker can typically receive a much higher award than with a workers’ comp claim. Workers’ compensation covers medical costs, part of lost wages, and disabilities. A FELA claim, on the other hand, covers medical expenses, all lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, disability, and other economic and non-economic losses.
FELA Claim Liability
Every common carrier that engages in commerce is liable to pay damages to any employee or a deceased employee’s family if the injury resulted from the negligence of the carrier, its employees, or its equipment. All railroads are liable for worker injuries under FELA. In general, employees hold FELA claims against negligent employers. The railroad owes a duty of care to keep workers reasonably safe in the workplace. This includes proper training and safety equipment, as well as a workplace that is free from foreseeable risks and hazards.
If the railroad breaches its duties of care, resulting in worker injury, the victim(s) may hire a Long Island railroad accident attorney and sue the railroad, thanks to the rules of FELA. To prove a FELA claim, the worker (plaintiff) must have proof of the railroad’s (defendant’s) negligence. This takes proving that the railroad or another defendant breached its duty of care in some way. The courts will decide on negligence by looking at what a reasonable and prudent individual would have done under the same circumstances.
If the defendant did something that deviates from this accepted standard, it was negligent. If the railroad did not provide a piece of specific safety equipment, the plaintiff can skip the proof negligence requirement, as the railroad is guilty of a violation of the Federal Safety Appliance Act.
Most Common Long Island Railroad Worker Accidents
Railroad workers face risk of injury at almost every juncture during a typical workday. Labor regarding railcars, cargo, tools, equipment, and machinery is naturally dangerous. However, there are certain situations that lead to worker injuries on the LIRR more than others. Staying on the lookout for these common accidents could help prevent injury in the future:
- Coupling accidents. Coupling, or connecting a train’s rolling stock, can lead to worker injuries since, historically, it required the worker to stand between moving railcars. Thanks to systems like automatic couplers, these injuries are declining. They do, however, still occur.
- Struck-by accidents. Trains have struck, injured, and killed workers for as long as the railroad’s history. Unfortunately, modern-day systems and safety practices still cannot prevent these accidents from happening. Trains may arrive late or early without warning, leading to contact with workers on the tracks.
- Train derailment. An issue with the train tracks or operation of the train could lead to a railcar derailment – potentially striking nearby workers and pedestrians. Passengers of the LIRR could also sustain injuries in these types of accidents.
Often, railroad workers don’t suffer injuries in accidents, but because of months or years of working with improper personal safety equipment or poor training. This can lead to injuries like back sprains and slipped discs, from heavy lifting or repetitive motions in a way that causes wear and tear on the body. FELA covers both traumatic and other types of worker injuries.
What Are the Most Dangerous Railroad Jobs?
Almost every position on the railroad poses some type of risk to workers. However, workers who do jobs where the trains run, like brakemen, couplers, and conductors, tend to have the highest risk of injuries. Train and engine employees work closely with railcars and engines, increasing their risk. Luckily, the most dangerous railroad occupations are declining thanks to technological advances. Still, railroad negligence such as improper training, inadequate tools, and unsafe work environments contribute to the danger of railroad jobs.
How to File a FELA Claim Against the LIRR
If you work on the Long Island Railroad and recently suffered a personal injury, or if a loved one died on the job, seek help from a local Long Island railroad accident lawyer. Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP offers free initial consultations so you can talk to an attorney at no cost or obligation. During your consultation, we’ll listen to the circumstances of your accident and give you our professional opinion about whether you have grounds for a FELA claim instead of workers’ compensation.
If we think you do have a FELA claim on your hands, we may offer to represent you during the filing of your claim and settlement negotiations. The right Long Island attorney can help you protect your rights as an injured railroad worker. Call (631) 451-7900 to get in touch with Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP. You can also schedule a consultation online.