From brakemen and conductors to rail repairmen, occupations in the railroad industry carry a higher risk of injury and/or death than jobs in many other industries.

Increased dangers in railroad employment may be due to:

  • lifting heavy objects
  • possibility of collision
  • the inability to stop abruptly (due to the weight of the cars)

Given such risks, lawmakers have enacted a distinct body of law, known as the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), to protect the rights of railroad employees, should they be injured on the job.

Among the most common types of injuries affecting railroad workers are back and spinal cord injuries. Because spinal cord injuries in railroad workers can be painful and permanently disabling, it's essential that injured parties meet with an experienced FELA attorney to learn more about their legal rights and find out if they are entitled to compensation for their losses and injuries.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Although spinal cord injuries can arise out of repetitive motion strain, in many cases, a severe spinal cord injury is the result some type of trauma, such as a collision, fall or crushing incident.

Serious spinal cord trauma that may affect railroad employees includes:

  • Complete spinal cord injuries, in which individuals sustain paralysis and loss of sensation in body parts below the injury site. Paraplegia (loss of movement and feeling in the legs, genitalia and bladder/bowels) and tetraplegia (loss of arm and hand movement and feeling in addition to paraplegia) are commonly the result of complete spinal cord injuries.
  • Incomplete spinal cord trauma, in which individuals experience some feeling or some inability to move the body parts below the injury site. The nature and severity of an incomplete spinal cord injury will determine the degree to which feeling or control is lost.

In addition to these permanent spinal disabilities, railroad workers may also sustain spinal stenosis after an accident or traumatic event. Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spine that compresses the spinal nerves and results in pain, cramping or numbness.

The two types of spinal stenosis include:

  • cervical spinal stenosis, affecting the neck and upper spine
  • lumbar spinal stenosis, affecting the lower back

Following a Spinal Cord Injury: Medical and Legal Assistance

It's vital that injured railroad workers:

  • Seek emergency medical care to prevent further complications and death
  • Follow through with all prescribed long-term treatments for optimal chances of recovery
  • Meet with a FELA lawyer to find out if they are entitled to compensation

Under FELA, railroad workers will be entitled to sizable settlements (usually larger than compensation provided by general workers' compensation laws) if they can prove that an employer's, a co-worker's or an equipment manufacturer's negligence caused or intensified their injuries. However, because of the complexity of FELA law, it is essential for injured railroad workers to consult an experienced attorney who fully understands FELA claims.

During a free initial consultation, FELA attorneys will:

  • Thoroughly evaluate a railroad worker's claim.
  • Determine if he is entitled to compensation via FELA.
  • Inform prospective plaintiffs about the process associated with winning a FELA claim.
  • Provide expert advice regarding the best manner in which to pursue a case.

At Gordon & Elias, our FELA attorneys have a proven track record of success in representing injured railroad workers and their families across the nation. We understand the physical, financial and emotional hardships that can accompany railroad injuries and we are committed to helping families get their feet back on the ground after experiencing a serious injury such as a spinal cord injury.

For more information or to speak with a qualified FELA attorney today, call toll free at 800-773-6770.