When railroads began to expand at the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. passed a law to protect the rights and the safety of railroad workers. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) holds railroad companies responsible for damages caused by work-related injuries. Although the rate of incidence has fallen since this law was enacted in 1908, FELA attorneys continue to use it to help clients receive just compensation for railroad injuries. An experienced FELA injury lawyer will know exactly how to handle any case involving injuries experienced by railroad workers. Railroad Accidents and Injuries According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Safety Analysis, 10,797 railroad accidents occurred in 2012. A total of 7,993 nonfatal injuries transpired as a result of those accidents, and 706 people died. In many cases, a railroad worker injury lawyer was required before accurate damages were paid to the victims or their families. Three types of railroad accidents are the primary precursors to railroad-related injuries: • Train collisions • Train derailments • Highway vehicle collisions Specific Causes of Railroad Accidents Generally, the two leading causes of railroad accidents are human error and equipment defects. Defects may be reduced through the machined manufacture of equipment and proper testing, but only training and vigilance can stop human error. Railroad accidents that are the result of human error include those caused by any of the following actions: • Improper handling of cargo • Moving too fast • Braking too slowly • Drug or alcohol intoxication • Failure to use safety equipment or follow safety regulations • Sleeping • Improper switching of tracks Equipment defects are the second leading cause of railroad accidents, but they only account for 17 percent of cases. These accidents may be severe, but they are usually easy to prove by an experienced FELA claim lawyer. Examples of equipment defects are as follows: • Broken rims or flanges • Cold breaks • Overheating • Loose ball bearings or wheels Types of Injuries Nearly any type of injury may occur while working on a railroad, regardless of the job description of the employee. Conductors, switchers, yard maintenance workers and cargo loaders are all susceptible to injuries. Following are a few of the most common injuries experienced by railroad workers. • Sprains and strains – Sprains and strains are among the least serious of railroad injuries, but they may force workers off the job for days, weeks or months. In addition, the weakening of joints may lead to other chronic injuries. • Contusions and lacerations – Contusions and lacerations, otherwise known as blunt trauma and cuts, may have serious and long-lasting effects. Internal injuries may result from contusions that appear to have caused nothing more than bruises. • Lung injuries – Toxic agents are often used or transported by railroad companies. Inhaling these substances may cause lung damage or other chronic diseases, such as cancer or mesothelioma. • Broken bones – Broken bones often occur from slip-and-fall accidents, but workers loading and unloading heavy cargo also experience a high rate of bone fractures. • Burns – Burn injuries from railroads do not usually occur because of fires but because of friction heat. However, this does not make the burns any less serious. • Head, neck and back trauma – Head, neck and back injuries may be devastating because the spinal cord runs through all of these areas. If the spinal cord is damaged, the accident may result in chronic pain, paralysis or death. • Amputations – Amputation is a common railroad injury because the equipment is often heavy and cannot be stopped quickly. Call a FELA Claim Lawyer If you or a family member works for the railroad and has become injured, call a railroad injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.