New York residents may be interested to learn that a former railway maintenance worker was awarded $1.63 million by a California state court jury on Jan. 10. The maintenance worker filed a lawsuit against his former employer BNSF Railway Co. after getting hurt on the job. His final payout dwarfed BNSF's pre-trial settlement offer of $50,000.
The worker claimed he was injured on the job due to missing safety pins that caused an 83-pound rail rack to fall and hurt him, breaking his leg and injuring both his back and head. As a result, he was rendered unconscious and his memory of the entire event became a bit hazy. Even though his inability to fully remember the accident was problematic, he still had the right to sue BNSF based on the Federal Employers Liability Act.
For its part, BNSF admitted that there were supposed to be safety pins in place. Nevertheless, they argued in court that the safety pins were not the reason for the falling rail rack. Furthermore, BNSF's lawyers argued that the plaintiff was exaggerating his injuries and that his testimony was inconsistent with the evidence.
In the end, the jury found for the plaintiff and held BNSF fully liable. This verdict was reached despite the fact that the attorney representing BNSF came from one of the largest defense firms in the country. On the other hand, the attorney representing the plaintiff came from a firm that only had three lawyers. This goes to show how crucial the facts of a case can be. With legal representation, the victim of a work-related railway injury could hold the proper parties accountable.