Railroad workers who are injured on the job as a result of their employer’s negligence have the right to file a Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) lawsuit and recover damages.
FELA was enacted in 1908 to ensure that railroaders who suffer work-related injuries are adequately compensated by their employers. For well over 100 years, FELA has offered a path for injured railroad workers to recover the compensatory damages that they are legally entitled to.
The Steps Involved in Filing a FELA Injury Lawsuit
First and foremost, you need to seek medical attention and make sure you are thoroughly examined by a qualified physician. The physician’s report – which explains what kind of injuries you suffered, how serious they are, and what kind of treatment you need – is the very basis of your FELA claim.
Next, you need to contact an experienced railroad injury attorney. The attorney, after reviewing your case, will tell you whether a FELA claim can be filed against your employer and how much compensation can be recovered.
Depending on the extent of the injuries you suffered and the evidence you have to back up your claims, your employer might be willing to settle the case. In such a scenario, your attorney will negotiate with your employer or the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you are not persuaded or bullied into accepting a low settlement offer.
If an agreement regarding the settlement amount is not reached, your attorney will file a FELA lawsuit against your employer. Your employer will also be given a chance to respond to the charges you have made against them.
During the course of the litigation process, your attorney and the attorney representing your employer will be allowed to make their arguments, refute each other’s claims, present evidence, and produce witnesses. After hearing the arguments and reviewing the evidence, the judge or jury will arrive at a decision.
Statute of Limitations for a FELA Lawsuit
Whether you want to bring an occupational injury claim or illness claim against your employer, you are required to do so within a period of three years from the day on which you were injured or diagnosed with the illness.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered Through a FELA Claim?
A FELA claim allows you to receive compensation for the following economic and non-economic losses.
- The cost of treatment and rehabilitation
- The cost of long-term care (if you have developed a physical or mental disability as a result of the accident)
- The cost of counseling and psychotherapy
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for significant disfigurement or deformity
What Not to Do While Filing a FELA Injury Lawsuit
Do not try to directly deal with your employer, no matter how well-intentioned you think they are. Your employer might try to settle the case as quickly as possible, especially if they believe that they might be forced to pay a large amount as compensation if the case goes to trial. So, let your attorney handle everything.
Do not admit fault to your employer, the attorney who represents your employer, the insurance company, or the person who is assigned by your employer to investigate your accident – even if you believe that your actions contributed to the accident. As clichéd as it might sound, anything you say might and most probably will be used against you – especially if your case goes to trial. So, let your attorney do all the talking.
The Importance of Hiring the Right Railroad Accident Attorney
It should be noted that unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a FELA claim is not a no-fault claim. What it means is that you can recover damages only if you are able to prove the following things.
- Your employer had a duty under FELA to provide a safe work environment.
- Your employer failed to fulfill their duty.
- The accident or illness was caused partly or entirely as a result of your employer’s negligence.
- You were harmed as a result of the accident.
Needless to say, unless you are represented by a skilled railroad accident lawyer, you might find it hard to prove that your employer was indeed negligent and their negligence led to the accident.
Moreover, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a FELA claim does not place any cap on the amount you can receive as compensation. So, it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can negotiate hard with the defendant, produce the evidence needed to establish their negligence, make persuasive arguments, and recover the maximum amount of compensation possible under the law.
Trustworthy FELA Lawyers in Virginia
If you have been injured, diagnosed with a disease, or if one of your family members have died as a result of a railroad accident, the personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn can help you.
We can hold the at-fault parties accountable for their negligence and fight aggressively to achieve a favorable outcome. We will make sure that your legal rights and interests are not violated by the at-fault party at any stage of the settlement discussions or the litigation process.
To find out how the railroad accident attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn can help you, call our firm today at 800-752-0042 and schedule a free consultation.