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How Much Have Other Plaintiffs Recovered in FELA Cases?

How Much Have Other Plaintiffs Recovered in FELA Cases? While the awards or settlements for past FELA cases largely depend on the type of injury sustained, their averages and medians typically exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is due in large part to the significant tangible and intangible consequences of the incident on the railroad worker.

  1. Awards for Past FELA Plaintiffs
  2. Illinois FELA Accident Awards
  3. How can a Lawyer Protect my Recovery?
  4. FELA Accident Awards and Settlements
  5. How Will my FELA Case Compare to Past Ones?

Awards for Past FELA Plaintiffs

"How much can I recover?" This is inevitably one of the first things railroad and carrier workers ask us when we begin discussing their case. It makes sense. As much as lawsuits are about justice, they are just as much about financial compensation for tangible and intangible damages (To learn what you could recover for in a FELA case, click here ). Hospital bills, prescription medication costs, lost wages, and other extraordinary expenses could stem from an accident on the railways, even death and funeral losses.

You need to be prepared and if someone else is at fault, then you need to be reimbursed for their wrongful conduct. So, the amount of recovery you could obtain if you filed suit is an important issue. Therefore, in the sections that follow, we provide some information on FELA awards and settlements across the country and in Illinois.

These are meant for context-not predictions. The wheels of each case are powered by the particular facts and circumstances of what happened in that isolated incident. Yet, we know statistics can be a good barometer for discussion so we provide them. If you contact us, we can explain what your recovery might look like and, more importantly, what you must do to get it (To learn what you should do following a railroad incident, click here ).

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Illinois FELA Accident Awards

"How much can I recover?" This is inevitably one of the first things railroad and carrier workers ask us when we begin discussing their case. It makes sense. As much as lawsuits are about justice, they are just as much about financial compensation for tangible and intangible damages (To learn what you could recover for in a FELA case, click here). Hospital bills, prescription medication costs, lost wages, and other extraordinary expenses could stem from an accident on the railways, even death and funeral losses.

You need to be prepared and if someone else is at fault, then you need to be reimbursed for their wrongful conduct. So, the amount of recovery you could obtain if you filed suit is an important issue. Therefore, in the sections that follow, we provide some information on FELA awards and settlements across the country and in Illinois.

These are meant for context-not predictions. The wheels of each case are powered by the particular facts and circumstances of what happened in that isolated incident. Yet, we know statistics can be a good barometer for discussion so we provide them. If you contact us, we can explain what your recovery might look like and, more importantly, what you must do to get it (To learn what you should do following a railroad incident, click here).

ILLINOIS FELA ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
28
5
4
8
12
19
12
9
3

NATIONAL FELA ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
27
7
5
7
13
17
12
8
3

As their titles suggest, the first two sets of information highlight what plaintiffs in Illinois and around the nation received in FELA lawsuits for railroad and carrier injuries. These numbers lump together jury awards and settlement amounts. Illinois played host to many of these cases as compared to the national average. Here are some key takeaways from these stats:

  • Illinois just barely -by 1%-notches more awards over $1 million than the country.
  • Illinois plaintiffs also strike out and receive nothing more than plaintiffs in other states but by only 1%.
  • By just 2%, Illinois plaintiffs best others in recovering sums between $100,000 and $1,000,000.
  • Illinois plaintiffs had a higher median recovery than did those around the U.S.
ILLINOIS FELA BURN ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
50
0
0
0
25
0
25
0
0

NATIONAL FELA BURN ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
44
0
13
0
13
19
6
6
0

ILLINOIS FELA CRASH ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
30
0
0
20
0
30
0
10
10

NATIONAL FELA CRASH ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
0
0
0
0
0
63
25
12
0

ILLINOIS FELA BRAIN ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
0
0
0
0
0
13
25
13
49

NATIONAL FELA BRAIN ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
14
7
3
0
10
10
17
14
24

ILLINOIS FELA BACK/NECK ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
21
7
6
6
12
16
12
13
6

NATIONAL FELA BACK/NECK ACCIDENT AWARDS
Amount
$0
$1-$50,000
$50,000-$100,000
$100,000-$200,000
$200,000-$500,000
$500,000-$1,000,000
$1,000,000-$2,000,000
$2,000,000-$5,000,000
>$5,000,000
Percentage of Plaintiffs
23
6
6
7
12
18
15
8
4

The last set of tables show recovery amounts from important FELA incident types including crash, burn, back, and brain injuries. Take a look at some important points about these numbers:

  • For both Illinois and the nation, burn injuries yielded the most amount of plaintiffs that recovered nothing: 50% of these Illinois plaintiffs received nothing and 44% of national plaintiffs received nothing.

  • For both Illinois and the rest of the country, brain injuries brought in the most awards over $1 million- 49% for Illinois FELA plaintiffs and 24% for national FELA plaintiffs.

  • For both Illinois and the rest of the country, brain injuries saw extraordinary recoveries over $5 million-87% for Illinois FELA plaintiffs and 55% for national FELA plaintiffs.

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How can a Lawyer Protect my Recovery?

Understanding or predicting what you can get from a FELA lawsuit is not that useful if you cannot take steps to maximize and secure your recovery. If you hire a competent railroad accident law firm, then they can make sure that the compensation you are owed is still there once you get to court. Here are a few of the things that they can to do ensure that:

  • Handle all communications with opposing counsel.
  • Conduct all investigations to gather witnesses and evidence.
  • Review all case law and statutes that support your right to recover.
  • Organize a clear and cogent lawsuit that sets forth your injuries and right to recover.
  • Present an organized trial advocacy strategy to the jury.

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FELA Accident Awards and Settlements

$400,000 ILLINOIS JURY AWARD.

The victim here was employed at the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. He had to move in and out of trucks for work. One day while working, he was high atop one of the railcars. There was some debris in the bed of the cart. This forced him to slip and fall off the vehicle. He landed almost ten feet down on the ground. The crash left him badly hurt. He broke his wrist. He also damaged his collar bone. The injuries required surgery. Doctors also prescribed rehab and prescriptions. He tried to go back to work but he found it hard to do that. To make up for this, he brought a case. Due to the workplace setting, it was a FELA claim. During trial, the defendants tried to say that he was to blame. They argued that he was careless. The plaintiff came right back at them. He showed how the business failed to uphold safety standards. This argument carried the day. The jury awarded him $400,000. Yet, because they also found him partially responsible, that amount was lowered to $228,000. In Illinois, if a jury determines a plaintiff was more than 50% to blame, he or she can’t recover at all. Here’s how that award broke down.

  • $200,000 For past/future lost income.
  • $100,000 For pain.
  • $100,000 For disability

$2,630,000 ILLINOIS JURY AWARD.

Sometimes the smallest things can cause the biggest accidents. That’s what happened in this FELA case. It was a FELA case because the victim was a railroad worker. He worked for Union Pacific. One bright morning, he had to go out to Rochelle, Illinois. He walked along the tracks. His boss told him to manually switch them. As he was doing that, he tripped over some weeds. He fell crashing down. He injured his hip and knee. Both required surgery. In fact, he needed eight surgeries in total. Plus, in the future, he would have to replace his hip. Also, he complained of constant pain. He couldn’t do the job he used to before the accident. His employer even demoted him for that reason. To make up for this, he sued. He alleged the company should have cleared the weeds better. In response, the defendant said he could have taken an alternative path. It showed pictures of a way around the weeds. Further, the defendant argued a lot of the plaintiff’s pain was from a birth injury. Refusing to settle, the matter went to a jury. They had to look at the facts and decide who was right. Did the company insufficiently clear the weeds? Could the man have gone around the obstruction? In the end, they said the company was 90% to blame. This lowered the man’s recovery by 10% but still left him with $2,367,000.

$500,000 ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT.

The railroad worker here got hurt while moving a lever. He tried to throw a switch but threw his back out instead. He was 40 when it happened. The company he worked for was Metra. The injury was so bad he needed surgery. Doctors fused his spine at the L4/L5 juncture. Also, they operated on the L5/S1 location. Still, he suffered a lot of pain. He also had to front the medical bills. Those were very expensive. They easily totaled tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, he was faced with long-term care needs. Further, the incident left him in pain. He couldn’t work or play as he could before the incident. He sued for these reasons. He claimed the company improperly maintained the switch. Some of the rods were loose. The lever also jammed upon movement. The defendant denied this. It pointed out that a recent review found nothing wrong with the switch. Also, they complained that he didn’t mention this injury in a work report. Yet, the facts didn’t back the defendant’s theory. They couldn’t point to an alternative story that made sense. Seeing the writing on the wall, they sought to exit the dispute. The plaintiff obtained $500,000 in settlement. That money was to be used for the damages mentioned as well as court costs and other fees.

$11,100,000 ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT.

This is one of the highest FELA settlements on record in Illinois. The incident took place not on a train but in a car. Yet, the people involved were railroad workers. Plus, they were working at the time. That’s what made it FELA-related. The victim that brought a claim had a prior back problem. He had a syrinx as well. His work required him to drive through Illinois. He wasn’t driving the vehicle though. He was just a passenger. The driver fell asleep and crashed the car. The victim reaggravated his back problem. He had to go in for fusion surgery. Despite that procedure, he was left with sensory loss all over his body. He sued the employer. He claimed damages including pain, costs, and disability. The defendant shot back right away. It argued the crash couldn’t have prompted this bad of an outcome. They wouldn’t take responsibility for all of the effects. Most of it had to deal with his pre-existing injury it claimed. It soon realized though that a defendant is liable for all the damage their wrongful conduct causes. Here, that meant the long-term disability, medical care, and lost income the victim suffered. That’s why the settlement figure rose so high. It included about $5 million for past and future medical costs. The rest went to pain, lost income, and related losses.

$5,300,000 ILLINOIS JURY AWARD.

The claimant in this case was a 30-year-old male. He worked as an engineer for Metra. One cold, winter night, he walked into a train cab. He slipped though as did that. Apparently, oil he tracked in mixed with water and snow. That’s what created the slippery situation. Train companies are required by law to keep their premises free from those. The man injured his knee and back. Doctors performed spinal surgery and knee treatments. He sued for these medical costs and others. Also, he couldn’t return to work. The injuries disqualified him. He sought compensation for this lost income as well. The defense disagreed that they created a dangerous work site. They argued that it was reasonably safe. Further, even if it wasn’t perfect, they didn’t think it caused any of his injuries. However, this case was tried on strict liability grounds. This meant the jury wouldn’t consider the man’s conduct as negligent or not. This helped him greatly. It shifted the balance of power to his side. The settlement figure of $5,300,000 reflects that fact. About $3 million of that was for lost income. Roughly $2 million was for medical bills. The rest repaid him for disfigurement, pain, suffering, and similar harms.

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How Will my FELA Case Compare to Past Ones?

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can point out where your case compares and contrasts to past ones and important legal precedent. This will give you a better insight into what you could achieve in court. Also, we can even help you get the compensation that you deserve under the law. Just call our offices and speak with someone from the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC to find out how.

For additional information see the following pages:

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