Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers BBB Business Review

FELA Settlements: How to Value Railroad Injury Cases

Injuries Involving Railroad WorkersWhen a railroad worker is injured on the job, they are entitled to pursue a case against their employer based on a Federal Law referred to as FELA. While the law has various intricacies, it is generally a more favorable law for an injured railroad worker than workers compensation would afford.

Below we have compiled information related to various types of FELA cases from reported settlements and jury verdict reports. While this information can be informative, each case needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

If you or a family member was injured in an Illinois railroad accident, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your case with a workers compensation attorney who has experience handling these particular type of cases.

As with all of our work-related injury cases, we work on a contingency fee basis where there is only a fee charged when there is a recovery for you.

Amount: $750,000 JURY AWARD
County: COOK
Year: 2015
Injury: Knee

This Illinois accident involved a 51-year-old man who worked for Metra. Over a significant period of time, he was required to uncouple railcars as part of his employment. To accomplish this task his employer provided him with an uncoupling bar. The man claimed in court that this bar was deficient and contributed to him falling down and tearing his medial meniscus. He sued for damages under the Federal Employers Liability Act. 

The defendant company refused to admit any wrongdoing. It said that the plaintiff acted carelessly and that contributed to his injuries; additionally, it replied that the plaintiff was exaggerating the nature of his injuries. Apparently, the jury was not genuinely convinced with the voracity of either side because it awarded the plaintiff $750,000 but also 50% of the blame for the incident. Therefore, he only recovered $375,000.

Amount: $284,000 JURY AWARD
County: COOK
Year: 2014
Injury: Various physical and psychological injuries.

The railroad worker in this incident was a middle-aged female. She was unloading some cargo in the rail yards when a truck crashed into a forklift behind her. The collision spilled over into her general direction and actually hit her. She suffered various physical injuries all over her body as well as depression and anxiety. She sued both the railroad company as well as the truck company for negligence under the Federal Employers Liability Act. 

The claims generally established that they were careless and contributed to an unsafe working environment. Both companies blamed each other and the plaintiff for the accident. The jury blamed the defendants to the tune of 70% and the plaintiff to the tune of 30%. So the latter obtained $198,800 of the initial $284,000 award.

Amount: $3,428,000 JURY AWARD
County: COOK
Year: 2013
Injury: Back/arm

This controversy actually involved two accidents and the same railroad worker. He was a signalman trying to unload items from a truck in the rail yards when the stand he was on gave way and he fell.

Then, when attempting to cross the rail yards to check the electrical switch, he tripped over a fence. He sued the train company for negligence pursuant to the Federal Employers Liability Act because, in his words, it failed to provide an adequate and safe working environment. 

The company denied that it was responsible and said that the worker’s conduct caused the accidents. However, the jury came to the opposite conclusion. They gave the plaintiff $3,428,000 and only 22.4% of the blame for the two incidents.

  • Lost Wages:
  • Pain and Suffering:
  • Loss of Normal Life:
  • Total:
  • $803,000
  • $1,652,000
  • $1,000,000
  • $3,428,000 (Reduced to $2,660,000)

Amount: $100,900
County: COOK
Year: 2013
Injury: Foot/ankle

A train conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railway stepped into a ballast hole as he checked points on the arrival track. He seriously injured his ankle and foot in the accident. He sued the train company under the Federal Employers Liability Act for negligence. His lawsuit alleged that the Canadian Pacific Railway negligently maintained the rail yards and that caused his injuries. 

The defendant argued that the Act did not apply and that the conductor caused his own problems so the two sides went to trial. After careful consideration, the jury returned a $100,900 verdict for the plaintiff as well as a 25% apportionment of the blame. Here was the award breakdown:

  • Lost Wages:
  • Pain and Suffering:
  • Loss of Normal Life:
  • Total:
  • $24,900
  • $38,000
  • $38,000
  • $100,900 (Reduced to $75,675)

Amount: $2,270,000 JURY AWARD
County: COOK
Year: 2013
Injury: DEATH

This railroad accident happened to an older man. He was crossing the tracks to inspect equipment on the other side when a train hit him. He sustained a stroke from the collision and subsequently died. His next of kin sued the train company that he worked for, Union Pacific Railroad, under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

They alleged that the defendant company failed to erect and uphold a safe working environment, failed to provide the decedent with proper support, and failed to maintain lights and signals to warn the man of the oncoming traffic. 

To these claims, the defendant train company responded that the man acted carelessly and should be responsible for his own injuries. Furthermore, it denied that the Act applied to these circumstances. Finally, it refuted the extent of damages that the plaintiff claimed. The case went to trial over both fault and damages.

The jury did resolve that the company was responsible-to the tune of 70%- so their $2,270,00 was reduced by the judge to $1,589,000.

  • Lost Wages:
  • Pain and Suffering:
  • Loss of Normal Life:
  • Punitive:
  • Loss of Services:
  • Total:
  • $180,000
  • $1,195,000
  • $38,000
  • $845,000
  • $50,000
  • $2,270,000 (Reduced to $1,589,000)

Amount: $1,400,012 JURY AWARD
County: ST. CLAIR
Year: 2013
Injury: Bulging discs, cumulative trauma

This case involved two main claims. The victim was a welder for Union Pacific Railroad. He argued that he suffered bulging discs, spinal strain, and degenerative disease when he was hauling oxygen tanks off of a railroad car.

Also, he said that he sustained cumulative trauma and other injuries over the course of his long employment due to repetitive motions, lack of support, vibrations, and other environmental factors. Both of these claims were put into a suit and brought under the Federal Employers Liability Act. 

The defendant denied all of these charges. It stated the second was defeated by the statute of limitations and first was defeated by the plaintiff’s own negligence. Thus, the case moved to trial where the jury had to decide who was at fault. It found that the train company was -50% for the first claims and 75% for the second claim. Therefore, the plaintiff received $1,050,009 of the original $1,400,012 verdict with the following breakdown:

  • Medical:
  • Past Wages:
  • Pain & Suffering:
  • Total:
  • $450,011
  • $700,000
  • $250,001
  • $1,400,012

Amount: $45,000 JURY AWARD
County: COOK
Year: 2012
Injury: Leg

A Metra employee was cleaning an area around the train tracks when another employee clipped him from behind with a snow blower. The blades of the machine tore into the back of his leg and injured him.

He sued his employer under the Federal Employers Liability Act and sought damages for his medical bills, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering. The defendant train company refused to settle so the matter went to trial. The jury awarded the man $45,000 in the following fashion:

  • Lost Wages:
  • Pain and Suffering:
  • Disfigurement:
  • Total:
  • $3,000
  • $22,000
  • $20,000
  • $45,000
Get Help For Your Illinois FELA Accident Case

Many railroad works are unsure of their legal rights after an accident or injury. While railroads spend a lot of time educating workers on how to perform their jobs, they rarely advise them as to their legal options following an accident on the job.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciates a job-related accident can have on you and your family. Our law firm is committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the maximum possible recovery for your case. Contact our office today for a free review of your FELA case with a Chicago railroad accident attorney.

For information on railroad worker accident FAQ's, look here.

Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa