Charles Goetsch
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Protecting Whistleblowers & The Injured

Injured BNSF railroad worker awarded multimillion-dollar verdict

| Jan 25, 2019 | Fela Claims

Railroad workers in Connecticut should know about an injury case in Lancaster County, Neb., that ended with the jury awarding an employee of BNSF Railway a multimillion-dollar verdict. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act case started on Jan. 7 and ended Jan. 16.

The incident in question occurred on Feb. 22, 2014. The plaintiff, a carman for BNSF, was ordering empty rail cars from a coal train in need of repairs when the accident occurred. While he was setting a handbrake on the end car, five more cars collided with the train. One rolled over his left foot, which was in a steel-toe boot, and caused open fracture injuries requiring 13 surgeries to treat. The surgeries included a mid-foot amputation. Each car weighed about 4,900 pounds.

With the development of complications, the plaintiff ultimately had to have his left leg amputated below the knee. At the trial, attorneys for the railroad contended that the plaintiff was entirely at fault. However, the plaintiff’s attorneys asserted that the railroad was to blame.

The jury awarded the plaintiff a verdict of $7,112,071, which was then reduced by 51 percent (the degree to which the jury deemed the plaintiff to be at fault). The total came to $3,485,000. Now 38 years old, the plaintiff continues to work for BNSF as a carman. Attorneys say he is optimistic about the future.

Injured railroad workers are aware that they do not file workers’ compensation claims like employees in other industries. Rather, they can file a FELA claim. Unlike with a workers’ comp claim, a FELA claim can only be successful if there is proof of negligence on the railroad company’s part. This is why hiring a lawyer who understands the railroad industry is essential. The lawyer’s network of investigators and other professionals can help build up the case before the negotiation stage begins.