Railroad injury litigation involves complex technical issues and the involvement of multiple parties, all of which leads to lengthy litigation. RD Legal Funding has a solution for attorneys and their clientele. Simply fill out the brief online application located to your right to see if you qualify for immediate post-settlement financing. Or you can call RD Legal toll-free at 1-800-565-5177 to speak with one of our legal funding experts.
The rights of railroad workers have been protected by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) since 1908. In the year 1901 alone, more than 40,000 railroad employees were injured and over 2,600 were killed on the job. As the U.S. Supreme Court later noted, "In 1888 the odds against a railroad brakeman dying a natural death were almost four to one; the average life expectancy of a switchman in 1893 was seven years."
Congress and U.S. Supreme Court decisions strengthened FELA over the years. In 1939, Congress eliminated assumption of risk as an available defense in any situation, and made it a crime for a railroad to intimidate its workers from furnishing information about an accident to an injured railroad worker or his attorney. Supreme Court decisions in the 1950s liberalized definitions of "cause" in the worker's favor. Today, if railroad negligence played even a slight role in a worker's injury, the railroad will be liable.
FELA permits railroad employees injured in work-related railroad accidents to file a lawsuit in state or federal courts to recover financial damages from their railroad employers in cases where negligence was caused by either their employer or by other railroad employees. Railroad workers are not eligible for workers compensation. However, through FELA, they can seek punitive damages which are not recoverable through workers comp. FELA differs from both workers compensation and automobile personal injury law by basing damages on the railroad employee’s individual loss, including lost wages (past, present and future), pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. To recover under FELA, negligence on the part of the railroad must be demonstrated as well as the railroad’s failure to provide a reasonably safe place to work.
FELA also has provisions to deal with situations in which a worker's own negligence may have combined with that of the railroad to bring about the injury — contributory negligence. Basically, the way the law works is that if a railroad worker is found to be partly responsible for an accident, any damage award will be reduced by the workers' contributory negligence. In some cases where the railroad has violated a Federal railroad safety law, such as the Safety Appliance Act or Locomotive Inspection Act, there is no reduction for contributory negligence and the railroad will be liable for all damages.
Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Safety Analysis indicate that there were more than 20,000 reported cases of railroad worker injuries in the U.S. between 2006 and 2009. Many of the injuries suffered by rail workers result from rail yard accidents involving the following work:
Tens of millions of dollars have been paid by railroad companies to settle FELA suits by railroad employees who claim that exposure to toxic solvents from the 1960s to the 1990s caused mild to severe brain damage. Medical experts estimate that thousands of workers may be suffering from toxic encephalopathy. CSX denies links between solvent exposure and brain damage but has admitted to settling 466 solvent exposure claims and paying up to $35 million while denying links between solvent exposure and brain damage.
Amtrak $265 million Settlement with Passengers
Recently, Amtrak settled a lawsuit filed by families affected from the 2015 train derailment in Philadelphia that injured over 200 people and killed 8 people. The case was settled for $265 million but there are still lawsuits pending against Amtrak from other families who have filed against the railroad service. Several news reports about the incident point to a distracted driver who mistakenly accelerated when he should have slowed down. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which oversees Amtrak, stated in their report that the train was traveling 106 mph where the speed limit was 50 mph. The plaintiffs involved in the settlement have until November 21st to decide whether they are taking part in the settlement. According to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, they agreed on the $265 million because of the certainty it would provide today rather than take a chance at trial which can take years. As luck would have it, late last year Congress raised the cap on federal railroad damages to $295 million up from the $200 million limit set in 1997.
Post-settlement legal funding, also known as our Fee Acceleration program, is a cash flow solution for attorneys waiting on slow-paying legal fees. Call RD Legal Funding at 1-800-565-5177 to speak with a Fee Acceleration specialist. Or fill out the brief form to your right to begin the application process.