Lipkin & Higgins team of Illinois railroad accident attorneys represented E.B., a 40-year-old woman employed by a railroad as a mechanic working on locomotives in the diesel shop. The diesel shop, similar to a "Jiffy Lube on steroids," is a large building where train locomotives pull in and get service and maintenance work, which is performed by train mechanics working on, underneath and all around them.
Before her back injury, E.B. had been recently assigned to work "the pit", an area underneath the locomotive between two tracks. This involved a lot of heavy lifting, pushing and pulling, including moving a 250 pound steel block used as a jack when placed under a locomotive frame. After several months of performing this heavy work, E.B. developed severe back pain that forced her to stop working. She eventually underwent surgery to remove a herniated disk in her back, and another surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator to try to relieve the constant pain she was experiencing.
E.B.'s employer vigorously defended the railroad injury case, contending that since E.B. did not know how or when her injury occurred (she had not reported a work related injury initially to her doctors) they should not be responsible for it.
There are two ways in which someone can get injured. The first, more common way is where someone is injured at a single point in time. The second is a repetitive trauma injury which occurs over a course of time. E.B., like most people, thinks of an accident only in the more ordinary context, and had never heard of a repetitive trauma injury. Thus, when she saw her doctors, she did not explain that her constant moving of heavy objects over a period of years caused her personal injury. The absence of helpful documentation in a treating doctor's record posed a real problem in her case. Defense counsel will always point this out to the jury, under the not unreasonable notion that if the injured party does not relate the cause of her injury, the jury should not find the defendant liable for having caused that injury.
We filed suit on behalf of E.B. under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), a law that protects railroad workers injured at work. We contended that the railroad was negligent in failing to provide E.B. with a reasonably safe place to work; by failing to have a railroad safety program in place to check on workers and make sure they were not performing job tasks that put them at a higher risk for musculoskeletal injury; and by failing to provide workers with tools and equipment to more easily and safely move around heavy weights, such as a 250-pound block.
Prior to the trial, the railroad had only offered $50,000 to settle. The railroad's settlement offer increased with each day of trial. However, we were successful in convincing the trial judge to bar certain railroad evidence that was particularly harmful to our case. At the close of the plaintiff's case-in-chief, the railroad made an offer that quadrupled its pretrial offer, and our client accepted it to settle the case.
The Chicago attorneys of Lipkin & Higgins are expertly skilled in the FELA and are prepared to utilize that knowledge to represent your case. Contact our office today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.