Understanding the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and the process of filing a claim is crucial for railroad workers seeking compensation for workplace injuries. However, misconceptions can cloud judgment and deter individuals from pursuing legitimate claims. In this article, our FELA lawyers dispel common myths and provide factual insights to help you navigate the FELA claims process effectively.
MYTH: FELA Claims Are the Same as Workers’ Compensation Claims
FACT: FELA Is Not Workers’ Compensation
One prevailing myth is that FELA claims are the same as traditional workers’ compensation claims. This is untrue. FELA operates under a different set of rules and offers a distinct avenue for compensation. Unlike workers’ compensation, FELA requires proving employer negligence played a role in the injury. Additionally, FELA claims provide the opportunity for greater compensation, as they consider pain and suffering, unlike workers’ compensation claims.
MYTH: Filing a FELA Claim Will Lead to Job Loss
FACT: Protection Against Retaliation
Some railroad workers fear that filing a FELA claim will result in job loss or workplace retaliation. According to the Federal Railroad Safety Act, railroads are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against workers who report on-the-job injuries. Any adverse employment action, such as harassment, suspension, unreasonably higher management scrutiny, or discharge (firing from the job) could be seen as unlawful retaliation in such a situation. Your legal rights are protected, and taking action against a negligent employer will not jeopardize your job security.
MYTH: FELA Covers Only Injuries Occurring in a Specific Accident That Occurred on a Specific Date
FACT: Compensation for All Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
While FELA can certainly apply to injuries resulting from a specific accident, it also covers a broader range of work-related injuries and illnesses. FELA encompasses injuries that may result from ongoing exposure to hazardous conditions, repetitive stress, cumulative trauma, or unsafe workplace practices over time. It does not require that an injury occur on a specific date or in a single accident. Instead, it focuses on the negligence of the railroad company and its impact on the safety and well-being of its employees. If negligence is proven to have contributed to an injury or illness, a railroad worker may be eligible to file a FELA claim, regardless of when the injury or illness occurred.
MYTH: FELA Claims Are Always Lengthy and Expensive
FACT: Timely Resolutions Are Possible
While it’s true that some FELA claims can be protracted, not all cases are lengthy or expensive. The duration of a claim often depends on the specific circumstances and the cooperation of the parties involved. With skilled legal representation and efficient case management, FELA claims can be resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner.
MYTH: You Don’t Need Legal Representation for FELA Claims
FACT: Legal Counsel Is Advisable
Some individuals believe they can handle FELA claims without legal representation. While it’s possible to file a claim independently, having an experienced attorney can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome. An attorney can navigate the complexities of the legal process, gather evidence, negotiate with the railroad company, and ensure you receive fair compensation.
Consult with a Seasoned FELA Lawyer Today
A railroad injury or illness can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. If you have suffered a workplace injury or illness due to the negligence of your employer, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled FELA attorneys. Our firm works diligently to get railroad workers and their families the financial compensation they deserve, like the $600,000 jury verdict for one client, a passenger train conductor, who suffered a head injury, bruised ribs, and a torn rotator cuff in a rail yard accident.
Our firm also offers a free railroad injury/FELA guide that outlines the dos and don’ts after you suffer a railroad injury. The guide also details the Federal Employers Liability Act.
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