Railroad workers across the country must contend with an inherently dangerous work environment. The industry has been aware of some potential hazards since the dawn of railroad commerce. Others have only recently been well understood. The relationship between spinal injuries and the constant vibration that locomotive engineers and other on-train employees experience has been known for more than 50 years, but many rail carriers still do not provide adequate protection for an engineer’s hours of sitting and standing during a train ride.
Because your spine is particularly vulnerable to damage from this danger, which is known as Whole-Body Vibration (WBV), it’s important to understand what you can do if you suspect your chronic neck and back injuries are due to your job. Compensation is available for damages due to WBV, but it’s essential to work with an attorney who can guide you through the proper steps to access the funds.
What Is Whole-Body Vibration? Why Does It Impact Railroad Workers?
Many people who ride in a boat or car for long periods of time will experience some shakiness after their trip. However, rail employees are exposed to vibrations from train engines and other factors over an extended period of time. The result can be WBV. People suffering from WBV symptoms report fatigue, stomach issues, headaches and loss of balance, as well as spinal pain. Back problems related to WBV can include herniated disks, degenerative disk disease and arthritis. The chronic pain that results from these spinal conditions can lead to long periods off work or having to leave your career because of disabling injuries.
While bus and truck drivers have seen improvements in seating and vehicle construction to reduce WBV injuries, the railroad industry lags behind in development of safety equipment to minimize body vibration. If you believe your spinal injuries could be related to WBV, you can file a claim through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to recoup the losses you’ve experienced because of your work injury.
How To File A FELA Claim For WBV Injuries
FELA differs from state-run “no fault” workers’ compensation programs. It allows a railroad employee injured on the job to sue their employer for damages in civil court. The employee must prove negligence by the employer. Documenting a lack of updated seats or standing mats in the locomotive cab, or other measures designed to disrupt exposure to the vibrations, could form the basis for a WBV claim under FELA.
Railroad workers may ask for damages in their FELA claim that include: medical treatment costs, wage losses, pain and suffering, and mental distress related to the injury. An attorney well versed in railroad law and FELA claims can evaluate your WBV injury claim and represent your interests in court or settlement negotiations.