I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. Now I Have Cancer.

by | Jul 28, 2021 | Railroad Injuries, Railroad Workers

Normally, cancer is a lifestyle-induced genetic disease. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. Therefore, these illness claims are very complex.

When microscopic toxic particles enter the body, they cause cells to multiply rapidly and uncontrollably. These toxic particles could come from pretty much anywhere, such as a railroad car or railroad yard. The resulting illness is especially serious if the person has a family history of cancer.

Smoking-related lung cancer is a good example. Some people smoke heavily for many years and don’t get sick, largely because they have no relevant family history. Others take a few puffs and develop tumors, largely because the family history of illness is so strong.

Cancer survival rates have increased significantly since the 1990s. Unfortunately, so have treatment costs. A Lexington personal injury attorney obtains the compensation these victims need to fight this disease. This compensation also includes money for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. No one should have to suffer through an illness that was caused by someone else’s negligence.

FELA Claims

Lawmakers passed the Federal Employers Liability Act in 1906. A few years earlier, President Benjamin Harrison likened the dangers which railroad workers face to the dangers that soldiers face in combat. His comparison was probably accurate. In an era of rapidly-expanding railroads, worker safety clearly came second, at best.

Over the next several decades, railroad owners and their legislative allies tried to amend the FELA over two dozen times. All these efforts failed.

As mentioned, FELA compensation is not like workers’ compensation, which pays no-fault insurance benefits to injured workers. But FELA claims aren’t negligence claims either. These victims must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

To obtain compensation in a FELA claim, injured workers must prove that the railroad’s negligence contributed to the injury in some way.

Assume a worker does a handstand on a safety rail. The rail gives way, mostly because it’s not designed to take that much weight, and the fall injures the worker. In this case, the railroad operator could be legally responsible for all the worker’s damages, even though the worker’s negligence substantially caused the injury.

Dust Clouds and Lung Cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is the most common form of lung cancer. Most railroad workers must deal with dust clouds. Every time they disturb ballast rocks, these clouds usually form. Railroad dust clouds have high levels of silica. This substance, when ingested, exponentially increases the risk of NSC lung cancer. 

Since NSCLC is so common, doctors often misdiagnose lung cancer, especially among railroad workers. These same dust clouds could cause silicosis, which is a much more rare and aggressive form of lung cancer. So, NSCLC treatment might not do any good for silicosis victims. Running a complete battery of tests is the only way to tell the difference between these two types of cancer. 

Therefore, a Lexington personal injury attorney usually refers potential cancer victims to top oncologists. All the tests these doctors order might seem unnecessary. But in many cases, they are quite literally the difference between life and death.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, which is a tumor which forms between the heart and lungs, is even more aggressive and rare than silicosis. The serious nature of these tumors, along with their placement, makes mesothelioma one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Frequently, because of diagnosis issues, byt the time doctors properly identify mesothelioma, the tumor is quite large. Intensive radiation therapy and surgery usually isn’t an option. These interventions could damage the heart and lungs.

One microscopic asbestos fiber could cause mesothelioma or another disease, such as asbestosis.

These claims are especially complex because the mesothelioma latency period could exceed forty years. So, many victims are sick for decades and they don’t even know it. Although the statute of limitations is usually only two years, the delayed discovery rule usually protects victims in these situations.

Benzene and Leukemia

Vehicle exhaust and paint fumes usually contain high levels of benzene. This substance isn’t quite as toxic as asbestos or silica. But long-term exposure to benzene fumes, even a relatively low level of such fumes, could cause blood cancer, or leukemia.

Leukemia is a type of blood or bone marrow cancer caused by an increase of white blood cells. Acute leukemia happens when immature white blood cells rapidly multiply. Chronic leukemia takes place after an excessive buildup of white blood cells. Chronic leukemia can take months or years to fully develop, while acute leukemia requires immediate treatment. Some symptoms of both illnesses are anemia, abnormal headaches, and frequent infections.

If you are a current or former railroad worker and you experience these symptoms, speak to an attorney straightaway. 

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers