Railroad Van Wrecks
Despite the other dangerous work railroaders do everyday, a tragically high percentage of railroad injuries occur in railroad van accidents. Railroad van wrecks happen far too frequently for several reasons. First, railroad vans are often poorly maintained and in shoddy condition. Second, the drivers are often undercompensated and overworked. Third, railroaders are often transported late at night when drunk and fatigued drivers may be a problem.
Read this page to understand how railroad conductors and engineers can protect themselves before, during and after a railroad van accident.
What you need to know about protecting yourself legally and financially in the event of a railroad van accident:
Before You Hit the Road!Get Uninsured Motorist and Personal Injury Protection on Your Own Auto Insurance Coverage.
We recommend that railroad conductors and engineers all opt in for substantial Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) on their own personal auto insurance. It's a little known fact that most UM/UIM or PIP policies should cover you in any motor vehicle accident even if you are not in the insured vehicle when the wreck occurs. This includes your railroad vans operated by third parties such as Railcrew Xpress or PTI.
When an uninsured or underinsured driver runs into a carryall your UM/Under-insured motorist (UIM) or PIP may cover you. If the carryall company causes a bad wreck and major injuries to its passengers, UM or PIP may likewise cover an injured railroad worker. Learn more about UM/UIM and PIP for railroad workers>>
If you are in a railroad van accident:
Understand that coverage is determined by who is at fault for the accident.
Like all railroad injury cases, who is at fault for causing the accident is extremely important in a railroad van wreck case. The coverage available for railroad van accidents can range from none at all to exceptionally good.
For instance, if an uninsured motorist rear ends a railroad van at a redlight, then the injured railroad workers may have to rely extensively on their own uninsured motorist coverage to address their damages. This is particularly true in states like Texas and Mississippi where railroad van companies typically decline uninsured motorist coverage on their own policies and aren't required by law to carry them.
In Louisiana, railroad van companies are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage of $150,000. Still, damages in railroad van accident cases can often exceed this coverage, which is why we recommend all railroaders opt in for substantial uninsured motorist coverage of their own as mentioned above.
If a semi-truck driver or the van driver cause the accident then the coverage available is more likely to cover the damages of the injured railroad employee. For this reason, it's important to think of any and all causes of the accident after it happens and mention these on any railroad accident reports or in any statements. Keep in mind that commercial drivers like railroad van drivers are subject to more stringent rules than regular motorists and you may not know if they were violating federal standards or company rules at the time of the accident.
Make note of these vital pieces of information if possible:
Clearly, if you are badly injured you may not be able to do anything except wait for or seek medical attention. However, if you are able to note any of the information below it will aid in the speedy investigation of your case:
- The name of the negligent driver or drivers: Having the name of the negligent driver is extremely helpful in locating the official law enforcement accident report. The negligent driver in your case may either be another motorist or your railroad van driver. It's a good idea to get the name of your van driver for every ride you take. There is high turnover for that position and once they no longer work for the company they may be difficult to find.
- The law enforcement divisions that work the accident: If you aren't able to find out the name of the negligent driver, knowing which law enforcement division works the wreck can help you or your attorney find that information later.
- The names of any witnesses: Law enforcement doesn't always have the resources to talk to more than just the principals involved in a railroad van collision. Take the name and number of any witnesses if you get the chance. These days, witnesses may even have video which could become important evidence later.
Hire the right attorney.
In the event, that you are in a van wreck while at work, consult an FELA attorney experienced in handling on-duty collision cases. An expert FELA lawyer can help sort through the sometimes confusing claims and cross-claims that are typical in these cases.
Experience against the defendant in question is also helpful. For instance, we have handled a large number of railroad van wreck cases and injury lawsuits against PTI or Professional Transportation, Inc. and Railcrew Xpress.
In addition to the standard RRB and supplemental benefits that injured railroaders are entitled to, railroaders injured in a van wreck are entitled to an extra benefit.
Since 1969, the Off Track Vehicle Accident Benefit for Railroaders has provided special protection for railroaders injured during transport. Currently, this benefit provides up to $1,000.00 per week for 156 consecutive weeks if you are injured in an off-track vehicle accident. To qualify, an “employee must be riding in, boarding, or alighting from off-track vehicles authorized by the carrier and are (1) deadheading under orders or (2) being transported at carrier expense.”
To apply, submit a claim through your railroad personnel department. Please note - since this benefit is not widely known about it is not often applied for and some railroad officials are not aware that exists. If you have any questions about this benefit or need help obtaining it call us at 866 993 0001.
Railroad Van Wreck Testimonials
- Mr. Bubba Lear, Railroad Van Accident Client, Beaumont, Texas
- Mr. Chris Dowdy, Railroad Van Wreck Client, Glenmora, Louisiana
- Mr. Delson Fontenot, Railroad Van Wreck / 18 Wheeler Accident Client, De Ridder, Louisiana
Railroad Van Wreck FELA Case SummariesKansas City Southern Engineer Injured Riding in Carry-All Van – 2007 Texas Settlement
Thirty-four year old railroad engineer suffered serious low back injury while riding as a passenger in railroad carry-all van when the driver accelerated off a curb. Upon impact the engineer immediately felt pain in his lower back. The engineer continued to work for several weeks despite his pain. The van driver failed to use a level driveway to exit the rail yard to the street. Also, the van driver had a reputation as a lead-footed driver. As a result of his injuries, the injured railroad worker had to undergo back surgery and was unable to return to his normal job at the Railroad. The Railroad and the van company argued driving off a curb from a rail yard is not unreasonable. The Defendants disputed the extent of the engineer’s injuries, blamed degeneration and claimed that he could return to work making substantial wages. Chris Dowdy v. PTI, Crane and The Kansas City Southern Railway. Bristol Baxley of the law firm of Rome Arata and Baxley, Houston, Texas, represented the injured railroad worker.Jefferson County Jury Verdict against Kansas City Southern Railway
Forty-two year old railroad engineer suffers serious neck injury while riding as a passenger in a company car. The railroad trainmaster driving the company car was in a hurry and backed into the light pole without braking or slowing down. The injured railroad worker’s neck was twisted and wrenched on impact. Although there was not a lot of damage to the car, the pole was knocked backwards causing it to lean. As a result of his injuries, the injured railroad worker had to undergo neck surgery and was unable to return to his normal job at the Railroad. The Railroad disputed the extent of the injuries and claimed that the need for surgery was not related to the injury. The jury found the Railroad to be negligent and found no negligence on the part of the railroad worker. The jury awarded damages of $1.05 million. Stanford v. Kansas City Southern Railway. Bristol Baxley, lead attorney, Houston, TX, represented the injured railroad worker.
- How to Fill Out an Accident Report
- How to Give a Statement to the Railroad Claim Agent
- 7 Vital Tips for an Injured Railroad Worker
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