The Federal Employers Liability Act was passed by Congress in 1908 due to the important function that the railroad industry played in the growth of interstate commerce. Most people are at least marginally aware of the essential role that railroads played in the evolution of the United States. They paved the way for the settlement and development of the Wild West, furnished new economic prospects, facilitated the growth of communities and towns, and linked the country together. When the Pullman Strike of 1894 shut down the railways, it highlighted just how essential they truly were.
Isn’t FELA the same thing as workers’ comp? Why do I need a special lawyer?
Unfortunately, the working conditions on these railroads were deplorable. Workers would be severely hurt or even killed. Oftentimes, there was no satisfactory treatment for the injured and they were left behind, abandoned to their fate, or an illness would devastate an entire crew. These victims and their families were left with absolutely no legal recourse. The adoption of the Federal Employers Liability Act was Congress’ answer to these daily horrors.
The Virginia railway accident attorneys from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been seeing successful results in their railway injury cases for almost 40 years. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your FELA claim.
What is FELA?
People commonly confuse FELA with workers’ compensation but the two are actually quite different. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that offers medical benefits and wage replacement to an employee who is injured in the course and scope of their employment, provided the employee relinquishes their right to sue.
By comparison, FELA does not stand in the way of an employee suing their employer and recovering monetary damages for the injuries they sustained in the course and scope of their employment provided that there is fault on the part of the railroad.
Is There a Difference in Compensation between Workers’ Comp and FELA?
There are enormous differences in financial compensation between workers’ comp and FELA. Where workers’ compensation is concerned, no lawsuit can be brought and the damages are legally imposed by the state in which you were originally employed.
FELA permits victims to file a suit against the railway for medical expenses, lost income, reduced earning capacity, pain, suffering, emotional trauma, permanent impairment, disfigurement, physical therapy costs, and other damages.
What Is a Claims Agent? Do I Need a FELA Attorney?
As soon as you are injured, your supervisor will report the incident and the railway company will dispatch a claims agent to get your statement. The purpose of this statement and the immediacy of its collection is to place blame for the accident on you. As previously mentioned, FELA has a fault-based approach. So, if the rail company can place all of the blame on you, then it won’t matter if a jury awards you 100 million dollars, you won’t get a dime.
Sadly, many railroad workers don’t even report their injuries for fear of being fired for a supposed rule violation. Remember, the claims agent is not there to help you, he is there to protect his employer’s profit margins. This is why you should have a FELA attorney with decades of experience in representing FELA employees.
What Kinds of Railroad Workers Does FELA Cover?
All crafts workers are covered under FELA, including:
- Maintenance of Way
What is a Repetitive Injury or Cumulative Trauma?
Many FELA injuries do not take place all at once. Rather, they develop gradually over time and are caused by constant wear and tear on the body. These injuries are known as cumulative injuries. Cumulative injuries can vary from a moderate case of carpal tunnel syndrome to spinal injuries such as spinal cord compression. This is another reason why you need an attorney with specific training in railroad injuries to handle your FELA claim. Many doctors will not make the association between your injury and your working conditions because they are completely unaware of the unique vocational aspects of a railway worker’s job requirements.
Speak With an Experienced FELA Lawyer Today
Railway companies have vast resources that include formidable legal teams. To protect their best interests, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to limit their liability and, by extension, the compensation you are owed.
The Virginia railway injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have handled hundreds of cases across several states against railway companies under the Federal Employers Liability Act. If you were hurt while working on a railroad, call our law offices at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free consultation today.