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Railroad worker who lost leg in work accident awarded $12.5M

Working for a railroad company can be a good job, but it also carries certain risks of serious injury. Rail cars and locomotives are huge, and difficult to stop suddenly. Workers can suffer permanent disability if they are struck or run over, which is what happened to a Missouri man in 2012.

The man, who worked for BNSF at the time of his workplace accident, was recently awarded $12.5 million in damages in a lawsuit against the rail company. The man lost one of his legs after being run over by a train. The jury agreed that BNSF was negligently responsible for the worker’s amputation.

The accident took place at a BNSF railway yard in southeast Missouri. The victim was directing trains in the yard when he tripped on a boulder and fell onto the tracks -- into the path of a train.

The train had a 200-ton locomotive that was pulling eight rails cars, which weighed 30 tons apiece. It was moving about nine miles per hour, according to the lawsuit, and was unable to stop. The train ran over both of the victim’s legs. He lost his right leg below the knee as a result. He lost his job at BNSF, and currently works at a car wash.

It is not clear if he ever received workers’ compensation benefits. This is the sort of workplace accident that would commonly be approved for benefits.

He later sued BNSF, accusing it of allowing the walking areas in the rail yard to accumulate dangerous debris, and indirectly causing the loss of his leg. The rail company fought the allegation, claiming that the victim was lying about what happened.

Late in January, the suit reached the jury, which found for the plaintiff. BNSF would not say, as of Jan. 31, if it was going to appeal.

Source: Southeast Missourian, “Former railroad worker awarded $12.5 million verdict,” Jan. 31, 2014

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