If you sustain an injury at work, and are one of the 200,000 or more people employed to work on the U.S. railroad, then you could be protected by FELA law and eligible to make a claim for compensation.
FELA stands for the Federal Employers Liability Act. This U.S. federal law was first enacted in 1908 to protect and suitably compensate railroad workers who had suffered an injury at work, providing that they could prove that the railroad was in some degree negligent in causing the injury. Before FELA law came into effect, there was no protection or compensation for injured railroad workers.
What Does Fela Law Mean?
The railroad can be a dangerous place to work. It is the responsibility of the railroad to minimize the risks that you take by providing a safe environment for you to work in, regardless of whether it is on the railroad or fulfilling work at a location that is not on a railroad property, such as switching cars at an industry that is a customer of the railroad.
Failure to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety at work is classed as negligence, and if you become injured as a result of negligence at work, protection under FELA law should mean you are entitled to full pay, plus damages for pain and suffering incurred due to your injury.
What Do I Do If I Am Injured At Work?
If you suffer an injury at work, you should report it immediately to your supervisor, while ensuring that you accurately fill out the accident report form required by your union agreement.
This will form the basis of your injury claim, so be accurate and don’t miss out any important details. Be sure to list all defective tools and/or equipment and unsafe environments or practices that have contributed to your injury. You should also get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Once the form is complete, make contact with an experienced FELA attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible.
Proving Liability In Fela Cases
To have a successful compensation claim under FELA law, you must be able to show that the railroad was somehow negligent in creating a safe place to work and caused your injuries.
Under FELA law, railroad companies and employers have a duty to:
- Provide a reasonably safe work environment, equipment, tools and safety devices.
- Provide adequate training, supervision and assistance to employees, so they can safely fulfil their job functions.
- Thoroughly inspect the work environment to ensure that it is safe and free of hazards.
- Enforce all safety rules and regulations.
- Protect employees from the harmful, intentional acts of others.
- Prevent the use of unreasonable work quotas.
What Sort Of Compensation Can I Expect To Receive?
A successful compensation claim under FELA law can bring various types of compensation, but typically the claimant can expect to receive:
- Compensation for past and future wage loss.
- Compensation for past and future medical treatment.
- Damages for past and future physical pain and suffering, and psychological distress caused as a result of injuries sustained.
In the devastating event of the worker’s death as a result of negligence, the spouse and children, or next nearest relative will receive the compensation.
How Much Time Do I Have To Make A Claim?
The statute of limitations on making a claim for injuries sustained on the railroad is three years from the date of the injury. If you do not file the lawsuit within this time, you will not be able to recover compensation for your injury.
If your injury is what is known as a cumulative traumatic injury – that is, one that has occurred through repetitive stress and strain – then it may be harder to identify the point at which the injury occurred. Your lawyer will be able to give you further advice.
Most attorneys will advise that you start your lawsuit as soon as possible after your injury. It is often much simpler to get the relevant information, statements from witnesses and other documentation needed in the aftermath of the injury, rather than trying to collate it all at a later date. This is especially true if your claim is heavily reliant on witnesses who may move away or change their contact information if too much time is left to pass.
If you have suffered an injury while working on the railroad and would like further advice on how to make a claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Our reputable team of efficient, experienced lawyers will be delighted to help you. Call the Moody Law Firm today at 757-393-6020.