Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, any railway worker who is diagnosed with an illness resulting from workplace exposure is eligible to file a lawsuit against their employer. According to FELA, railway employees are entitled to recover compensation for an occupational illness, such as cancer, if they can prove that it, in any measure, was caused by the rail company’s negligence. This is a fairly low burden of proof which is undoubtedly extremely favorable to railway workers. In order to maximize your railway cancer settlement amount, however, there is some nuance involved in pleading these types of cases.
Why is proving strict liability better for my railroad cancer settlement?
As experienced FELA attorneys, we are familiar with the hazardous environments under which railway employees must work and the occupational illnesses and injuries they face as a result. The Virginia FELA attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp advocate for railroad employees in all lines of work. We have recovered numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts in significant railway injury cases.
Railroad Cancer and Comparative Negligence
In the majority of FELA cancer claims, the settlement amount is reduced in proportion to the worker’s own negligence. For instance, if a machinist who is exposed to asbestos and diesel exhaust on a daily basis is diagnosed with lung cancer, but also has a history of smoking, the machinist’s smoking will be viewed as having contributed to the lung cancer and any settlements or verdicts or settlements will be reduced accordingly.
It is essential to keep in mind that FELA follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. In other words, it does not prohibit you from filing a claim if you were partially negligent in causing your injury.
No Reduction for Smoking History With Strict Liability
In addition to FELA, there are other safety statutes that could be used to prove that the rail company was strictly liable for a worker’s illness. If you can prove that a safety regulation was violated in your railroad cancer claim, the verdict would not be adjusted for any contributory negligence.
The safety regulation most often cited in railroad cancer claims is the Locomotive Inspection Act, which can be violated if a rail company uses locomotives that allow diesel exhaust to penetrate the locomotive’s cab. In these cases, testimony often pertains to improperly sealed doors, windows, floors, and electrical panels. The rail company’s failure to maintain these seals properly made it possible for diesel exhaust to permeate the cabs of their locomotives which is a direct violation of the Locomotive Inspection Act.
In the event that a jury finds that a rail company was in violation of the Locomotive Inspection Act, the victim should be eligible to collect the verdict amount in its entirety, even if the jury tries to decrease the total based on the worker’s history of smoking. The proper utilization of a strict liability statute can help maximize your railway cancer settlement.
What Damages Can I Recover Under FELA?
A sick or injured railway worker could be entitled to damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, decreased quality of life, and pain and suffering. When deciding, juries consider the liability of both parties and other aggravating factors when calculating an award. Rail companies do likewise when they calculate the value of a settlement amount.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney
The reputable Virginia FELA lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have successfully litigated numerous claims against major rail companies under the Federal Employers Liability Act. If you were diagnosed with cancer or any other form of occupational illness or injury during your time as a railway employee, call our Virginia Beach law offices at (833) 997-1774 or fill out the form on our website to schedule a free consultation.
- Defenses Commonly Used in FELA Liability Cases
- Higher Instances of Cancer Among Railroad Track Workers
- FELA Statute of Limitations
- What Railroad Claim Agents Won’t Tell You Guide