I live in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), the home of Norfolk Southern Railroad. I have been doing automobile accident injury cases in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) for about a decade before I joined my current firm of Hajek, Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis, and Appleton, PC. That was in 1997 and since that time I have been doing train wreck and FELA cases for railroad workers who get hurt on the job, in addition to other vehicle accident cases.
Until I started working for injured railroad workers in their accident cases, I did not realize just how much railroad activity there was in Norfolk, Virginia (VA). Now that I think about railroad cases, I realized that I am surrounded by trains in my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia (VA). For example, each night I can hear the sounds of railroad cars crashing into each other at the nearby Lambert’s Point yard. This goes on all night reminding me that there are railroad workers running engines and doing switching of cars on third shift right there only a few miles from me in Norfolk, Virginia (VA). Until I knew what I was hearing, I had never really noticed the sound of trains at night.
My awareness of railroad operations all around Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) has increased during the 10 years I have been doing FELA and railroad crossing accident cases. On my way to work each day I pass by the front of the Norfolk International terminal where railroad cars bring containers in and out of the port on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia (VA). Norfolk, Virginia (VA) is one of the busiest ports on the east coast of the United States. Vast amounts of freight are brought in by railroad and moved out of the port, in addition to containers moved by trucks. A lot of times I am stopped in traffic right on the railroad tracks on this major railroad artery into the port. I look down the tracks and see the huge pieces of railroad equipment, engines and cars, sitting there. I imagine what it might be like to be trapped in a stalled vehicle with a freight train barreling down on me. Railroad crossing accidents are not uncommon. I feel sorry for anyone involved in one of these accidents whether the person in the car or the transportation crew of the railroad in the engine. Often the engineers and conductors on the train when involved in a grade crossing accident cannot do anything but watch in horror as the train crushes into the side of a passenger vehicle or truck. Although I would rather be in the huge railroad engine in one of these collisions than in the car, I do think that railroad engineers and conductors keep the scars with them for life when they are also trapped in the unfortunate situation of a train v. car accident. Living and driving around Norfolk, Virginia such thoughts about train/vehicle wrecks are never far from my mind. I think about the folks that I have known who have been hurt in crossing accidents and my friends in the railroad industry who have been involved in these accidents or who have otherwise been hurt on the job.