Bus-Train Collision at Unguarded Railroad Crossing in North Dakota Results in Injuries

Four students were injured recently when a 2018 Freightliner school bus collided with a train at an unguarded railroad crossing in Lidgerwood, North Dakota. The collision happened around 3:40 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, in Richland County. Almost twenty K-12 Lidgerwood Public School students were aboard the bus when it attempted to cross two sets of tracks along Fourth Avenue and was struck at a right angle on the rear driver’s side axle by a slow-moving Dakota, Missouri Valley and Western Railroad (DMVW) train. The bus was spun counterclockwise and rolled onto its passenger side. The junction where the incident…

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Sayler, Bolt Hoffer Boyd Secure Jury Verdict, Record Sanctions Against BNSF

A Minnesota appeals court recently upheld a $15,343,753 jury verdict award in the case of Scott Kowalewski versus BNSF Railway Company. The court also approved an additional $5,846,281 in sanctions, awarded for BNSF’s “pervasive” discovery abuses and destruction of critical evidence. The verdict is the largest FELA (Federal Employers Liability Act) ruling in Minnesota history, and the sanctions award is the largest of its kind in the nation. Despite the seriousness of Kowalewski’s injuries and the breadth of the railway company’s misconduct, BNSF’s offer both before trial and on appeal was $0. On January 14, 2014, Kowalewski and a co-worker…

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Woman dies while trapped in a vehicle stopped on railroad tracks

A woman in a vehicle stopped on railroad tracks at a dangerous crossing in Aventura, Florida, died on November 15 when the vehicle was struck by a Brightline train. Traffic backups are common at this highly active passage at the intersection of Ives Dairy Road and West Dixie Highway. The driver was trapped, unable to maneuver the vehicle either forward or backward off the tracks as the train approached. The locomotive struck the stopped vehicle, and the driver was killed. These types of incidents are all too common at this location. Those who frequent the area have stated that vehicles…

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Santa Clara, CA railroad incident results in the death of a boy

A Santa Clara, CA railroad incident involving an Amtrak train has resulted in the death of a five-year-old boy. The five-year-old Santa Clara boy, whose parents said had special needs, was struck on the Union Pacific tracks near Lafayette Street, south of Laurelwood Road, on November 16, 2019. Police said dispatchers were alerted that a child was running along the tracks and attempted to advise Amtrak to stop service in the area, but it was too late. Authorities have launched an investigation to try and determine how the boy was able to gain access to the tracks. The stretch of…

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Another Fatality in CA: The Cycle of Railroad Incidents Continues

In the past, we have examined railway accidents and fatalities to help call attention to the need for increased safety methods or standards of accountability. The cycle of railroad incidents continues, as the tracks near Martinez, CA, were the site of another fatality last month. Thirty-two-year-old Martinez resident Liliana Alam was struck and killed by a BNSF train in June 2019. Another woman was killed earlier this year near that same set of tracks, and another was killed in 2014. If you have read our previous blogs, you know that railroad accidents and deaths in this area are, unfortunately, too…

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Jurgens v. BNSF: A Case of Railroad Industry Safety and Liability

In June 2019, a Bismarck jury handed down a verdict that makes a statement about railroad industry safety and liability. At the age of 18, Cary Jurgens started working for BNSF Railway, where he was employed his entire adult life. On August 7, 2017, Jurgens fell while servicing an industry in Jamestown, North Dakota. He reinjured his knee, which required surgery and subsequently cut short his railroad career. In court, BNSF questioned the validity of Jurgens’ claim and asked the jury to grant him no monetary damages. The jury disagreed with BNSF and issued a $560,845 verdict after a weeklong…

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The Importance of Choosing Designated Legal Counsel in FELA Cases

Every year, hundreds of railroad employees are injured or killed on the job. All injured railroad workers have powerful rights under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). But unlike workers compensation claims, the injured railroader must prove that the railroad did something wrong in order to be compensated for medical care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Because of this, the railroads retain skilled claim agents and attorneys to protect their interests. Within minutes, the railroad’s claims team puts its legal knowledge to work by taking photographs, obtaining statements from witnesses, and collecting measurements. But remember, these agents and attorneys…

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California Train Accidents Blow the Whistle on Railroad Safety

A dangerous area in the city of Martinez, CA, claimed another life this week. Marolyn Sullivan, a 36-year-old resident of Martinez, was struck and killed by a Fresno-bound Amtrak train. This is the third train-related death in the city of Martinez since 2000. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there were 167 train-related fatalities and more than 600 non-fatal, train-related injuries in California in 2018. Train-related deaths and injuries often give rise to lawsuits. In our experience, cities and counties sometimes fail to correct dangerous conditions that contribute to these horrific events. Bolt Hoffer Boyd currently is engaged in…

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Bolt Hoffer Boyd Announces Merger With the Tello Law Firm

Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm is pleased to announce a merger with Michael Tello and the Tello Law Firm. Lead railroad attorney, Joe Sayler, and Bolt Hoffer Boyd have a track record of representing injured railroad workers under FELA in over 25 different states. The merger with Tello Law Firm significantly strengthens Bolt Hoffer Boyd’s FELA team and their commitment to helping injured railroad workers across the country. Michael Tello has been involved with the railroad industry for over 50 years. He worked as a switchman for over a decade until he—like all too many railroad workers—suffered a career-ending injury…

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FELA Claims

For over 100 years the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) has been the sole remedy of railroad workers and their families who were injured or killed while working. This is unique to injured railroad workers, as almost every other occupation in the United States is under state workers’ compensation systems. Unlike FELA, workers’ compensation packages do not meet the needs of severely injured workers and their families. To recover under FELA, however, it is necessary to first establish some negligence on the part of the railroad. Injured railroad workers must prove that the railroad did something wrong in order to…

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