The work environment of railroad employees often entails a variety of stressful and hazardous conditions. The provision and implementation of a safe work environment for the employees, whether while operating a train, driving a crew, or working on railway maintenance, is the railway employer’s legal responsibility.
But every now and then, things do take a turn for the worse, resulting in injuries to railroad workers while performing their duties. The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) has been set up for such eventualities and comes into force to cover an injured railroad worker.
Damages You Can Recover in a FELA Claim
The rules for a FELA claim are different than in a workers’ compensation claim, where the injured employee must bring their claim to the state industrial court or the state’s workers compensation court. A railroad worker can bring a FELA lawsuit in any federal or state court.
The damages you may recover through a FELA claim are more extensive than a workers’ compensation claim, where the compensation is limited to your medical bills, lost wages, and any disability as a result of the accident. The damages under FELA can include:
- Medical expenses, both past, and future
- Lost wages, both past, and future
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental suffering
- Impairment of future earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement, partial or full
- Aggravation of a pre-existing condition
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In the event of a railroad worker’s accidental death, their next to kin can recover the following damages from the railroad employer:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering the employee experienced before death
- The estimated value of money, goods, and services that would have been contributed by the deceased worker
While the railroad and their insurance company will try their utmost to cut down or deny your compensation claim you must seek help from an experienced FELA attorney to protect your legal rights.
Do You Need to Hire a FELA Lawyer?
In case of a serious injury to the railroad worker, it is not always possible to determine the type and scope of medical treatment they will need, and the duration for which they will remain out of work. At the same time, it is very difficult to ascertain whether the injured worker will suffer a permanent disability that leaves them unemployable, or whether they will have to get a new job after recovery.
For you to seek and recover damages as an injured railroad worker under FELA; for injuries, pain, suffering, and other losses, you must establish that the railway employer disregarded their basic responsibility of providing reasonably safe work conditions. And you must also adhere to the statute of limitations while doing so.
The railroads, and their insurers, often try to settle your legitimately filed claim as quickly as possible to avoid chances of multiple financial damages arising out of your injuries. The prospect of paying any additional expenses you might incur if the claim remains open for a long duration also spurs them to expedite the process.
An injured worker may settle hastily under pressure from the railroad company and its insurers. Doing so, without fully understanding the future implications of the injuries, might prove detrimental to recovering full and fair compensation. A FELA lawyer will take all factors into consideration before calculating the worth of an injured worker’s case.
Three Reasons That You Should Hire a FELA Lawyer
No Fear of Coercion
Once you hire the services of a FELA lawyer, the railroad does not have the legal right to contact you directly. This takes away any fear of retaliation from excessively belligerent railroad employers, agents, or insurers, who might pile on the pressure on you to settle your claim quickly.
Build a Case to Prove Negligence
Filing a FELA claim for your injuries is only the first step in the legal process meant to protect your rights as a railroad worker. In order to recover the rightful compensation for your injuries and other damages, you will need to establish negligence on the part of your railway employer. A FELA lawyer can help to build a watertight case that can bolster your chances of getting the maximum possible compensation.
Statute of Limitations in FELA Injury Claims
Retaining an experienced FELA lawyer can ensure that you are aware of all the legal procedures. One such important time-bound legal process is the need to file an injury claim within the statute of limitations. If you have suffered injuries on your railroad job, you need to ensure taking the required action within these time limits:
- Personal injury – within three years of the date of the injury
- Death – within three years of the date of death
- Occupational disease – within three years from the date of discovery of the disease
- Cumulative trauma disorder – within three years from the date of discovery of the trauma
Virginia Railroad Injury Law Firm Can Help You
At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, our priority is to protect your legal rights and maximize compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other damages. Our qualified and accomplished FELA attorneys will take over the responsibility of your case while you can focus on recovering from your injuries. If you are a railroad worker and have suffered injuries on the job, call Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, at 800-752-0042 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation.