Montana Rail Link & FELA Lawsuits

Headquartered in Missoula, Montana, the Montana Rail Link (MRL) Company is a privately owned, Class II railroad operation that primarily runs throughout Montana and as far west as Spokane Washington. Serving over 100 stations, MRL operates on over 900 miles of track that was initially constructed by the Northern Pacific Railway Company.

Montana Rail Link was first started in 1987 when Burlington Northern agreed to allow a spin-off of their company. Currently, MRL primarily transports forest products, grains and petroleum and maintains a staff of around 1,000 railroad workers.

Montana Rail Link Dangers and Potential Injuries

Montana Rail Link – like any other railroad company –puts its employees at risk of sustaining serious injuries as a result of being exposed to dangerous conditions, including (not limited to):

  • heavy cargo loads
  • speeding trains
  • equipment malfunctions
  • track defects
  • collisions
  • derailments
  • highway-rail incidents (which between trains and any other entity at train crossings)
  • human error, including carelessness, recklessness or lack of proper training

Additionally, after years of working for MRL or other railroad classes, workers have a significant risk of developing repetitive stress injuries, such as bursitis, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Given such elevated risks of these occupations, in 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to protect the rights of railroad workers who suffer injuries on the job. FELA settlements are generally significantly larger than awards granted in workers' compensation cases.

Railroad Accident Statistics

The Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety has compiled the following statistics for the first 7 months of 2009 (from January to July 2009):

  • There were a total of 6,010 train accidents, 6.4 percent of which were fatal accidents.
  • A total of 404 individuals died in these incidents.
  • Nearly 67 percent of these train accidents were caused by human error and/or track defects.
  • Nearly 7 percent of these accidents involved passenger trains.
  • More than 2,400 railroad employees have been injured or killed in these accidents.
  • The trains of Montana Rail Link have sustained at least 5 accidents so far this year.
  • Since 2004, MRL has had at least one personal injury FELA lawsuit filed against it.

Types of Injuries Resulting from Railroad Accidents

When railroad accidents occur, they can result in a range of serious injuries, including (not limited to):

  • bone fractures
  • concussions
  • electrocutions
  • loss of limb
  • loss of vision and/or hearing
  • para- or quadriplegia
  • traumatic brain injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • wrongful death

Help For Injured Railroad Workers

After an injured railroad worker gets the medical help he or she needs, it is just as important to consult an experienced attorney who can help him or her pursue a case and recover compensation for damages.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while working for Montana Rail Link or another major railroad company, it is in your best interest to seek help from an attorney who has experience in handling FELA cases. At Gordon & Elias, our attorneys are highly qualified and will be able to help you. Contact us today to consult with a FELA attorney.