If you are a railroad worker who suffered a work-related injury or developed an illness like mesothelioma from exposures to asbestos or other dangerous substances on the job, you have the right to seek compensation for medical expenses and other damages you have suffered because of your employers’ failure to protect your health and safety. This right was granted to all railroad employees under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). This Act was passed into law in 1908 in order to protect railroad employees and their families and provide them with a legal process to recover financial compensation should they become injured or die as a result of a work hazard.
FELA is not workers’ compensation. Unlike workers’ comp, where the employee does not have to prove employer negligence in order to receive benefits, FELA has been set up as a fault-based system, similar to personal injury lawsuits. This means the injured employee must prove their employer was negligent and that negligence resulted in their injury or medical illness. Although a railroad employee who pursues a FELA claim is not required to retain the services of a Virginia FELA attorney, due to the complexities of these claims and the stringent legal requirements (i.e., statute of limitations), it is recommended that victims have an experienced FELA lawyer advocating for them.
Just like any other type of injury lawsuit, FELA claims often include depositions as part of the evidence-gathering process. This is known as the discovery phase. Attorneys use depositions to access both the weaknesses and strengths of a FELA claim, as well as to uncover previously unknown evidence. A deposition is basically an out-of-court testimony since it has all the legal rules that cover in-court testimony. Witnesses are sworn in to tell the truth under the penalties of perjury. If the parties are unable to eventually negotiate a settlement and the case does go to litigation, an attorney can also use the deposition transcripts when cross-examining that witness during the trial.
What to Expect
If you are called to answer questions in a deposition for your FELA claim, your attorney will prepare you beforehand for the experience. The attorney will prepare a list of potential questions they will ask you, as well as questions you may be asked by the other party’s attorney. Your attorney will also help you prepare succinct and appropriate answers.
Depositions usually take place at one of the attorney’s offices, not in a courtroom. There will be a court stenographer and possibly a videographer who will record the deposition. Your attorney will be present with you during the deposition, as well.
Questions will you usually involve the following categories:
- Personal details: These questions will typically be about your relevant background information, such as work history, work duties, etc.
- Physical condition prior to injury or illness: In-depth questions about what your health was like and any pre-existing conditions you had prior to your injury or diagnosis of disease. Questions may also include what your lifestyle and activity level was like prior to the injury.
- Accident details: You will likely be asked to provide details about what led up to and the details of the accident that caused your injuries. If you are pursuing a FELA claim for a medical condition, then the question may involve the symptoms you were experiencing that led to the diagnosis.
- Injury or condition: You will also be asked how the injuries or disease has affected your life, what medical treatment you have or are currently receiving, and your prognosis for recovery.
- Current lifestyle: The last series of questions you will be asked will involve how the injury or illness has affected your life and what kind of impact it has had on your day-to-day living experiences. This can include the physical, emotional, and financial impact.
Let a Virginia FELA Law Firm Help
If you are a current or retired railroad worker who has suffered an injury or developed an illness that you suspect is related to hazards you were exposed to on the job, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal recourse you may have against the railroad. Our Virginia FELA attorneys have extensive experience successfully obtaining the financial compensation railroad workers and their families deserve. Call our 800-752-0042 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.