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Since workers started laying tracks more than 200 years ago, working for the railroad has been considered a dangerous job. And while the railroad industry is certainly much safer today, it's still one of the most dangerous industries to work in. However, if you're a railroad worker who's been injured on the job, you have a right to pursue compensation under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).
In fact, unlike workers' compensation, which usually only covers medical expenses and partial wages, FELA allows railroad workers to file a claim or a lawsuit for all damages, such as lost wages, current and future medical expenses, benefits, pain and suffering, aggravation of pre-existing conditions, and lower quality of life. And also unlike workers’ compensation, FELA lawsuits are decided by a jury, likely citizens from your own community. You need only establish that negligence on the part of your railroad company contributed to your injury. Even if you were partly responsible for your injury, if you can prove that your railroad company was partly responsible — even only one percent responsible — you have a viable case.
While railroad workers enjoy broad protections under FELA, these cases are not cut and dry, and, in fact, they can be incredibly complex, with multiple parties involved in a single case. FELA cases are a highly specialized area of law, and it's crucial that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Railroad companies will use the full weight of their resources to reduce claims and fight lawsuits, and there are numerous factors that may affect your case.
For example, since most railroad companies provide interstate transportation, railroad employees may file their lawsuit in either a state or federal court. Often a skilled attorney will know which might be to your advantage, depending on your case details. A skilled attorney will clarify the full scope of your rights, such as the damages you may pursue. In addition, your compensation may be dependent on the railroad company's degree of negligence. If, for example, the compensation for your injury was $500,000, but the railroad company was found to be only half responsible for the cause of the injury, your compensation received would be $250,000. It's critical that you hire an attorney who understands every detail of your case — who will ask the right questions, conduct a thorough investigation, gather statements, records, and any other information that will support your claim and maximize your compensation.
In the state of New York, you have up to three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. But don't wait that long. The sooner an experienced law firm begins investigating your case, the sooner they can uncover evidence that may not exist down the road.
If you're a railroad worker who's been injured on the job, contact an experienced New York FELA attorney at Hach & Rose, LLP today. Contact us online, or call us at (212) 779-0057 or (866) LAWS-USA to schedule a free consultation.
Hach & Rose, LLP has extensive experience fighting for union members and their families. We represent railroad workers employed by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), Amtrak, Metro North, Chessie Seaboard Expanded (CSX), New Jersey Transit, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), and other railways.
Our New York FELA attorneys are also designated counsel for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 754 and the Independent Railroad Supervisors Union (IRSA).
Train accidents in New York and throughout the United States occur for a variety of reasons, and at Hach & Rose, LLP we are ready to take on cases involving:
Accidents related to coupling — the method of joining two rail cars together — have historically been a leading cause of injuries in the railroad industry. Today, most train companies use automatic couplers to reduce the risk of a worker getting caught between trains. Not using an automatic coupler, in fact, may be grounds for negligence. But even when automatic couplers are used, when the trains collide too hard or quickly, there is a real risk of injury to employees.
Coupling injuries can occur after an accident on the job or through a cumulative effect. Certain workers are more vulnerable to suffering coupling injuries:
While anyone working around a train is subject to certain risks, these specific workers are susceptible to some of the most horrific injuries that could be suffered in the railyard.
Whether you’re on a train or in a rail yard, electricians and other railroad workers may face electrical hazards in the form of exposed electrical wiring, contact with high-voltage power lines and rails, or an electric arc caused by a short in a high-voltage power line.
Railroad workers can suffer electrocution injuries for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:
The causes of electrocutions are not always immediately apparent, which underscores the importance of having an attorney conduct a thorough investigation. You will want to get real answers as to what happened and who can be held responsible.
Burn injuries could be the result of thermal or electrical energy on railroads, and a burn injury is classified based on how deep the burn is and the area of the body the burn covers. Most large burns involve burns of varying depths, and victims will typically face an agonizing road to recover.
People may be able to survive serious burn injuries, but the burns can leave them with scars and numerous forms of impairment. A railroad worker who sustains burn injuries at work could be entitled to compensation through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).
Due to the dangerous nature of railroad work, many workers suffer head trauma, resulting in traumatic brain injuries (TBI). There is a wide range of symptoms, a victim of a head injury may suffer. If these types of symptoms continue for an extended period, the injured railroad worker may have suffered severe trauma. Moderate to severe symptoms may include:
Victims who have sustained even more severe brain trauma may suffer from a loss of physical or mental ability, paralysis, drastic personality changes, or memory loss.
The spinal cord consists of a long group of nerves connected to your upper and lower body. The nerves in the spinal cord are essential for mobility and feeling across your body, from your arms and torso to your legs and feet. The bones, tendons, and ligaments of the vertebrae protect the spinal cord from injury. However, if you suffer a back or neck injury as a railroad worker, broken bones, swelling, and bleeding can all cause permanent damage to the spinal cord.
Depending on the location and severity of the injury to your spine, you may face various health consequences which impact normal functions in all or part of your body. Treatment and therapy for a spinal injury are expensive and ongoing, and you need significant financial resources to access the medical care you need. If you are a railroad worker who suffered a spine injury while on the clock in New York or elsewhere because of an unsafe condition, you aren’t restricted by any workers’ compensation insurance coverage. You can pursue a claim under the FELA.
There have been vast improvements when it comes to protecting railroad worker safety in the workplace. However, unfortunate accidents still occur every year that cause railroad workers severe injuries and even death.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 17 railroad employee fatalities and a total of 3,855 employee injuries in 2018. When a railroad worker is hurt or tragically dies because of a safety hazard, families are left struggling to deal with the loss of a loved one while also under tremendous pressure to pay hospital bills, funerals costs, and worrying about their financial future with one less breadwinner.
If you have tragically lost a family member in a railroad accident, contact the FELA attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Call us at (212) 779-0057 or reach out to us by e-mail or online chat.
Unfortunately, railroad workers are exposed to hazardous materials every day. Working with materials containing asbestos can send asbestos fibers into the air and end up being inhaled. These tiny fibers can become lodged in your organ tissues and develop into mesothelioma cancer.
When you’re handling hazardous materials and working in unsafe environmental conditions, your employer should always provide you with the necessary equipment and protective gear. Gloves, face shields, and coveralls can protect you from asbestos and other illness-causing carcinogens.
Railroad switches and signals are two of the many safety mechanisms that are essential on train tracks. These devices help prevent disastrous and often deadly collisions between trains and other vehicles. As a railroad employee, you rely on these systems to keep you safe while you are at work, and when a switch or signal fails at your worksite, you may face life-altering physical injuries.
If you suffered severe or catastrophic injuries due to a failing switch or signal, you deserve fair compensation. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) can help ensure that you have the financial support you need to pay for your injuries and to cover lost wages. However, you will need to work with an experienced FELA lawyer to you win your case.
The nature of railroad worker injuries varies widely, but many severe railroad injuries are caused by moving equipment accidents. Hard coupling accidents between trains is one of the leading causes of injuries in the rail yard. Coupling is the method of joining two rail cars together, and when the trains collide together too quickly, there is a real potential for employees on board or close to the rail cars to be injured.
Employees also run the risk of injury when they dismount from a moving rail car. While this is not done as often as it was 30 years ago, some railroad companies still permit this practice, as long as safety guidelines are followed, such as ensuring the locomotive is moving at a walking pace. But one wrong step can still lead to a severe injury, and repeated dismounting from the cars can lead to a repetitive trauma, which harms the body over time.
Moving tractors in the rail yard run the risk of dropping loads too close to employees or even falling over if they’re carrying an unbalanced load. And any slip and fall accident near a moving train car could result in a catastrophe.
The proper functioning of crossing signals used to warn workers and other drivers of train crossings is crucial to the safety of all these parties, as a malfunction or defect in these signals could cause devastating and traumatic accidents. Because of the danger that train accidents pose to train workers, New York enacted the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which allows injured workers or the families of workers killed in accidents to pursue legal action against railroad companies when their negligence results in a train accident.
Allowing a crossing signal to become defective or malfunction is a definite act of negligence on the part of a railroad company, and something for which the company should be held responsible when it causes an accident.
A railway employee injured in a fall involving a commuter train may be eligible to file for compensation from his or her employer if the company failed to take the proper safety precautions in preventing the accident. The following accidents may occur because of a lack of adequate safety measures:
These fall dangers may be blamed on a negligent commuter railway company, leaving the business liable for injury costs to both commuters and employees.
Whether your injury occurred because of one of the above-listed reasons or not, do not hesitate to contact us today to discuss your situation.
Any employee of an interstate commerce railroad company is eligible to pursue compensation under FELA. Here in New York, this may be an employee of the Long Island Railroad or Metro North. Or it may be an employee of Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific, Path NJ, and more. Because of the inherent dangers of working in the yard or on the train, many employees belong to unions that are also helping to advance workplace safety. Some of the most common railroad trades include:
A supervisor supervises and coordinates the activities of workers in the rail yard and on the trains. A supervisor’s role may be specific. For example, a track supervisor oversees track construction, maintenance, and inspections. The Independent Railroad Supervisors Association formed twenty-two years ago with the legal assistance of Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Mark G. Sokoloff, as the first Designated Counsel. Mr. Sokoloff currently represents Supervisors on the LIRR, Metro-North, Path, and CSX Railroads.
A machinist works in the shop or in the yards, fixing just about anything that is broken on the train, such a wheel that needs retrofitting or tending the mechanical control systems. Mr. Sokoloff is currently a Designated Counsel for District 19 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Mr. Sokoloff currently represents Machinists in FELA and Labor Matters on the LIRR, Metro-North, Path, and CSX Railroads.
Conductors coordinate the activities of the train crew on the freight and passenger trains. On freight trains, they oversee the loading and unloading of cargo. Yardmasters oversee the workers in the rail yard, directing engineers to move cars as needed, and ensuring trains are carrying correct freight material.
Locomotive engineers drive the freight or passenger trains between stations. They must be aware of the freight they’re carrying because different types of freight require different driving protocols.
Rail yard engineers drive the trains within the rail yard, moving locomotives between tracks, or to the maintenance shop. Or they may oversee technology that moves the trains within the rail yard.
Brake operators help couple and uncouple train cars. Switch operators control the track switches and ensure trains are moving in the right direction. Signal operators maintain the signals along the tracks and in the rail yard.
Electricians will inspect, repair, and maintain the electrical components of the locomotives. They work on electrical systems and components with AC and DC voltage, and usually have experience working with high voltage circuitry.
Laborers work on a broad array of construction and maintenance duties on the railroad track and in the yard, such as repairing track switches, maintaining rails, erecting signage along the railway, and trimming hedges away from tracks.
The fact is, there are federal laws in place to protect your safety. The federal government’s Code of Federal Regulations clearly outlines requirements for railroad workplace safety, including specifications, for example, for fall protection, scaffolding, eye and face protection, on-track safety procedures, and details such as appropriate climbing techniques for inspecting bridges. Railroad companies must also conduct periodic inspections — including monthly and quarterly inspections — to help ensure the safety of passengers and employees.
In addition, if an injury occurs and it’s shown that the railroad has violated any safety regulations or statues, that railroad company will be fully liable for the injury, and negligence will not need to be proven.
We have over three decades of experience handling FELA and FRSA matters in New York. We are active members of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys and routinely handle all types of cases for injured railroad workers. Our commitment to each and every client is to aggressively pursue the maximum case value allowed by the FELA and FRSA laws.
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Because railroad law is so incredibly specialized, it’s crucial that you hire attorneys who have the detailed knowledge and experience needed to win your case. Hach & Rose, LLP attorneys have won tens of millions of dollars for union members and their families, including numerous seven figure settlements and jury verdicts. And we have more than three decades of experience representing employees of railroad companies, such as Amtrak, Chessie Seaboard Expanded (CSX), Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), Metro North, and New Jersey Transit.
We are active members of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. We are also counsel to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers AFL-CIO Local Lodge 754 and the Independent Railway Supervisors Association (IRSA). Whether you have suffered harm from an electrocution, a platform gap, or excessive train speed, we fight passionately and skillfully for every injured client.
Michael Rose has helped thousands of accident victims put their lives back together after tragedy struck. While his clients are drawn to his compassion and personal attention, his tenacity in the courtroom has helped him secure millions in compensation for his clients. As a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Labor Law Committee, a large focus of his work is union and railroad cases. His practice includes FELA claims for any work-related injuries, including long-term trauma, occupational diseases, and more.
Mr. Rose’s intimate knowledge of railroad laws and his resolve to fight for his clients’ financial security have led to seven-figure jury verdicts and settlements, as well as numerous honors. He was named a lifetime member of the prestigious Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, in which fewer than one percent of U.S. lawyers are members, he has been peer rated for the highest level of professional excellence by Martindale-Hubbell®, and he has been included on the New York Super Lawyers list consistently from 2013-2019.
While his litigation and negotiation experience are unparalleled, it’s his deeply rooted sense of fairness and justice that has enabled him to fight so successfully on behalf of his clients.
Mark Sokoloff specializes in representing railroad workers under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), as well as National Mediation Board Arbitrations, railroad wrongful termination, and employment discrimination claims. He brings over 25 years of trial experience to his cases.
As an esteemed litigator in railroad law, Mr. Sokoloff is Designated Counsel to both the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers AFL-CIO Local Lodge 754 and the Independent Railway Supervisors Association (IRSA).
Mr. Sokoloff initiated the “Agent Orange” class action (Reutershaun v. Dow Chemical) which led to a record liability settlement of $750 million dollars, and he has additionally secured millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for injured railroad workers. Mr. Sokoloff is currently representing permanently injured Amtrak, LIRR, Metro-North, Path, Union Pacific, and CSX employees in FELA matters all across the country.
Mr. Sokoloff has launched his Railroad union law blog called RailRoad Ties, with informative articles on employee rights under both federal law and within respective collective bargaining contracts.
Mark Glen Sokoloff began a career in Railroad Labor Law and FELA in 1977 as an Associate and then a Partner in the firm of O’Hagan & Reilly. Over this period of time Mr. Sokoloff’s firm was designated Union Counsel to the Carman Union, The U.T.U., IAWS, and IRSA, an independent union of Supervisors, Sokoloff formed twenty-two years ago.
Since 1977, Mr. Sokoloff has represented most crafts on railroads across the country including Machinists, Foremen, Conductors, Engineers, Hostlers, Carmen, Car Inspectors, Plumbers, Switch Operators, Master Mechanics, Wrecking Crews, Catenary Linemen, Laborers, Flagmen and BRAC Employees. Mr. Sokoloff filed the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case of Bates vs. LIRR which established railroad union worker civil rights under the A.D.A.; a precursor to the present-day U.S. Railway Safety Act.
Sokoloff’s mentor was Anthony D’Avanzo who first obtained the benefits railroaders enjoy today, including pensions, sick time and disabled accident benefits.
Mr. Sokoloff joined the Labor Law firm of Hach & Rose, LLP in 2008 in order to head up the FELA/Railroad injury department.
Jonathan Connery is a valuable asset to every case he joins. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, his attention to detail and understanding of the FELA statute enables him to be an invaluable asset to our FELA team.
Because railroad workers are not covered by workers’ compensation if they’re hurt on the job, it’s important to hire attorneys who are intimately familiar with the details of railway law, so they can pursue the comprehensive compensation afforded under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). The FELA lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP have the drive and industry knowledge to support your case and secure maximum damages for those who have been harmed in the railroad industry. We are here for your questions and concerns. Contact us online, chat with us, or call us at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free consultation.
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