Railroad Engineers & FELA Claims

Also referred to as train operator or engine driver, a railroad engineer is an individual who oversees the mechanical operations of a train. Railroad engineers typically work closely with train conductors, who are responsible for making sure the train is operating safely and according to the standards set forth by a particular railroad company and the Federal Government.

In the U.S., most railroad engineers start off as assistant conductors or brakemen. They then move on to become conductors and, ultimately, railroad engineers. According to Federal Government regulations, railroad engineers must be certified and need to be recertified every two to three years.

Despite being one of the higher rung occupations within the railroad industry, however, the job of railroad engineer still comes with its own unique dangers and risks.

Railroad Engineers: Protected by FELA

Consequently, railroad engineers (as well as other railroad employees) are protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), should they be injured while working. Because FELA settlements are generally greater than workers' compensation awards, it's crucial that injured railroad engineers meet with a FELA lawyer to learn more about their legal rights before filing a workers' compensation claim.

Railroad Engineers' Duties

To understand the unique risks associated with working as a railroad engineer, it's first important to comprehend the nature of the job. Duties commonly performed by railroad engineers include:

  • accelerating and/or braking trains
  • checking the condition of trains
  • ensuring the timely arrival and departure of trains
  • understanding the physical characteristics of a train (including how to handle particular situations, such as incline or decline of tracks) to avoid accidents, collisions and/or derailments
  • being aware of track conditions (including whether other trains are on the tracks) to be able to maintain optimal safety

Injuries Commonly Affecting Railroad Engineers

The physically and mentally demanding nature of being a railroad engineer opens up these workers to unique set of risks, which can increase the chances that they sustain the following work-related injuries:

Here is a list of some verdicts recently awarded to injured railroad engineers (via FELA):

  • In June 2009, a railroad engineer employed by CSX Transportation was awarded $250,000 to compensate him for back injuries he sustained after his seat collapsed and he fell.

  • In 2009, a railroad engineer employed by BNSF Railway won $2.8 million after developing back injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a train crash.

  • In 2008, an engineer with Union Pacific Railroad won $875,000 for a mild head injury he developed after experiencing a train derailment.
  • In 2008, another railroad engineer employed with CSX Transportation was awarded $2 million following severe back injuries caused by improperly mounted seats.

Legal Help for Injured Railroad Engineers

Following a serious injury and emergency medical care, injured railroad engineers should meet with an experienced FELA attorney for a free initial consultation. Along with getting an expert evaluation of their case, injured engineers can also find out if FELA entitles them to a settlement.

For help with your FELA claim, contact a FELA attorney at Gordon & Elias, L.L.P. for help today. Our mission is to protect the rights of railroad engineers and employees.