You need a lawyer who understands the railroad industry and how it works
The Railroad Has Its Lawyers- You Need Yours
THE FEDERAL EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY ACT
What is the FELA?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was enacted by Congress in 1908 in response to the dangers associated with working in the railroad industry.
The FELA is a federal law that gives railroad employees the right to recover damages from their employers for on-the-job injuries caused by the railroad’s negligence. Over the hundred plus years since the FELA was enacted, Congress and the courts have expanded railroaders’ rights and protections. Railroad workers injured on the job are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws.
The FELA provides that the railroad company shall be liable to an employee for an injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of the railroad, its agents or its employees.
The FELA allows you to bring the injured railroad employee’s case in either state or federal court with the assistance of a law firm and personal injury lawyers if the railroad’s negligence played any part, no matter how small, in causing injury or wrongful death.
What is negligence?
To recover under the FELA, an injured railroad worker must prove that the railroad was negligent and that the railroad’s negligence caused or contributed to the employee’s injury. This means that the railroad company must exercise reasonable care for the safety of its employees and provide a safe working environment. Unsafe conditions on the job can lead to accidents, and a train accident lawyer can help injured workers recover damages under the FELA.
The duties of Railroad employers include providing adequate training, furnishing reasonably safe tools and equipment along with safety devices, selecting proper methods of work, supplying sufficient help, and adopting and enforcing proper work procedures to ensure railroad safety. The railroad can also be negligent if it allows unsafe practices and customs to continue, even if these practices are common in the industry or have been used for a long time.
The percentage of negligence on the part of the railroad must be established in order for the injured worker to recover damages under the FELA. A train accident lawyer can help injured workers gather evidence and build a strong case to prove the railroad’s negligence and seek compensation for their injuries.
Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), railroaders are required to take reasonable precautions to protect your own safety while working for a railroad company. This means following safety procedures, using protective equipment, and being alert to potential hazards. If you fail to use due care for your own safety, you may be found to be “contributorily negligent.” This means that the jury will reduce the damages awarded to you in proportion to your own fault or negligence. For example, if the jury determines that the railroad’s negligence was 90% responsible for your injuries, and your own negligence was 10%, your damages will be reduced by 10%.
However, if the railroad has violated a safety law or regulation that contributed to your accident and injuries, the railroad’s liability is considered absolute. In this case, you do not have to prove negligence, and you may be entitled to full compensation for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and options under the FELA, and can assist you in seeking the financial compensation you deserve.
What Damages Are Available in a FELA Case?
Under the FELA, damages are calculated to fully and adequately compensate injured employees and their survivors in the event of a fatal injury. A railroad law firm with a depth of experience in FELA cases can help injured employees navigate the legal process and seek the maximum amount of damages available to them.
When a case is brought against a rail carrier for injury claims, a skilled trial attorney can help present the case to the jury and maximize the chances of obtaining a favorable verdict. Damages in FELA cases generally include medical bills covered by the employee’s treatment plan resulting from railroad accidents and injuries. It is important for injured employees to seek legal counsel to ensure that they receive the standard of recovery to which they are entitled under the FELA.
Both economic and noneconomic damages are available under the FELA
Wage loss (past and future)
Loss of future earning capacity
Pain and suffering (past and future)
Mental anguish (past and future)
Reasonable and necessary medical expenses (past and future)
Shame and humiliation associated with any physical disability or unsightly scar or disfigurement
Loss of the ability to enjoy a normal life
When a train accident involving rail cars results in the death of a railroader, a FELA wrongful death claim can be pursued by the surviving family members, including a widow or husband and children. In cases where the deceased railroader was single and had no children, federal court states that the employee’s parents have the right to recover damages. These damages may include loss of income, loss of companionship and society, and other expenses related to the train wreck involving rail cars. It is important for the surviving family members to consult with a lawyer experienced in handling FELA wrongful death claims to ensure they receive the compensation they are entitled to.
How Do I Know What My FELA Case is Worth?
When you are injured on the job, many questions arise; including how to figure out what your case is worth. No lawyer can determine exactly what your case is worth at the beginning of the litigation process; be wary of he/she claims they can. Wage loss and; time off; drives the damages in FELA cases, but many factors determine the full amount of your recovery. For example:
What is the nature and extent of your injuries?
How severe are your injuries?
Are your injuries permanent in nature or will they fully heal?
Are you able to return to your railroad job, or are your injuries so severe that you will not be able to return to railroad work?
If you cannot return to work at the railroad, how old are you and how long have you worked at the railroad?
If you cannot return to the railroad, do you have other skills that allow you to seek other employment?
How bad was the railroad’s negligence?
Did you have any preexisting injuries and/or conditions that contributed to your current injuries?
If you do return to your job, how long were you out due to your injuries?
Did the railroad’s negligence involve the violation of a safety statute or regulation?
In cases of serious injury, calculating past and future losses and damages cannot be made without a competent and experienced FELA attorney skilled in evaluation and negotiation in railroad cases.
FELA Statute of Limitations: Time limit on your Acute Injury Claim
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) requires that injured railroad employees bring a lawsuit within three years of their accident. For example, if an employee is injured on January 1, 2022, they must file a lawsuit on or before January 1, 2025. If they do not file a lawsuit within this limitation period, they will be barred from pursuing their case. This is true regardless of whether the accident was caused by unsafe conditions or occurred during interstate commerce. It is important for injured railroad employees to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected and that they are able to file a lawsuit within the required time frame.
When you suffer a railroad worker injury, many questions arise, including how to figure out what your case is worth. No experienced attorney can determine exactly what your case is worth at the beginning of the litigation process; be wary if he/she claims they can. Wage loss and time off drives the damages in FELA cases, but many factors determine the full amount of your financial recovery. For example:
- What is the nature and extent of your injuries?
- How severe are your injuries?
- Are your injuries permanent in nature or will they fully heal?
- Are you able to return to your railroad job, or are your injuries so severe that you will not be able to return to railroad work?
- If you cannot return to work at the railroad, how old are you and how long have you worked at the railroad?
- If you cannot return to the railroad, do you have other skills that allow you to seek other employment?
- How bad was the railroad’s negligence?
- Did you have any preexisting injuries and/or conditions that contributed to your current injuries?
- If you do return to your job, how long were you out due to your physical injuries?
- Did the railroad’s negligence involve the violation of a safety statute or regulation?
In cases of serious injury such as a traumatic brain injury, calculating past and future losses and damages cannot be made without a competent and experienced FELA railroad lawyer skilled in evaluation and negotiation in railroad cases.
Do Not Wait to Take Action
The three-year statute of limitations under the FELA does NOT mean that you should wait three years before you hire our legal team. As an injured railroader, if you do not hire an FELA attorney and you cooperate freely with the railroad claim agent, provide a recorded statement and sign a medical authorization allowing the railroad to get your medical records, you may be giving up the opportunity to receive a fair resolution to your claim.
Your delay in hiring an FELA attorney can make it extremely difficult to conduct an adequate investigation and obtain your just and fair award or settlement.
Please seek our advice as soon as possible. By doing so, you will avoid the pitfalls that prevent full and fair compensation for you and your family.
FELA Statute of Limitations: Cumulative Trauma/Repetitive Stress Injuries
If you are a railroad employee who has experienced cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injuries as a result of your work, the three-year deadline for filing a claim does not begin until you first “discover” the injury and “knew or should have known” that it is related to your job. This is often the case for workers who have been in the industry for a long time and have developed conditions such as worn-out knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, backs, and necks. Additionally, exposure to toxic substances on the job can cause long-term damage, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect yourself.
If you have received medical treatment for a repetitive condition and discussed the potential cause with your medical provider, it’s likely that the three-year deadline has already begun.
What Do I Do If I Am Injured?
No one wants to be injured. You work hard and safely every day to avoid a FELA injury at the railroad. However, despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. Being injured at the railroad can be a very stressful experience for both you and your loved ones. In addition to the physical pain and suffering you experience from your broken bones or other injuries, you and your family may have to make quick and often stressful decisions about your medical care and other financial and legal matters.
Once an injury occurs, the railroad will begin its investigation immediately and create an injury report. The railroad’s goal following any on-the-job injury is damage control, which involves taking steps to reduce or eliminate the railroad’s fault in causing your injuries. It is important to understand that the railroad’s interests may not always align with your own.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is one of the strongest laws protecting hard working men and women in the railroad industry. It provides a way for workers who are injured on the job to seek financial compensation for their injuries and losses. However, to protect yourself and your family in the event of a FELA injury, it is important to have a good understanding of your rights and to seek experienced legal representation.
A lawyer with a depth of experience in FELA claims can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the best possible outcome for your situation.
If you suffer from a railroad injury, it is important to take the following steps in order to protect your rights and seek proper medical treatment under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA):
- Let your local union representative know about your injury.
- Seek medical attention and treatment right away. You have the right to choose your own doctor and should not be pressured to see a company nurse or doctor, as this is a violation of your rights under FELA.
- If you have health insurance, use it to seek treatment from the doctor of your choice.
- Notify your supervisor in a timely manner.
Ignoring your health condition and failing to get the necessary treatment can negatively impact your recovery and your ability to receive compensation for your injuries. It is important to follow your treatment plan and work with your designated counsel to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the standard of recovery you are entitled to under FELA.
You Cannot Be Fired for Hiring a Lawyer to Represent You
As an injured railroad employee, it is essential that you seek out qualified legal counsel to protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation. The railroad may try to pressure you or your family, or even threaten to terminate your employment, in an attempt to discourage you from pursuing legal action. However, you have the absolute right to bring a claim against the company for any injuries sustained on the job. The experienced attorneys at Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C. and Doyle Dennis LLP have a proven track record of success in FELA cases and can provide the skilled legal representation you need. Even if you are able to return to work, it is still in your best interest to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
If your injuries prevent you from returning to work, our attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you need to live a comfortable and dignified life.
Fill Out an Accident Report
It is crucial that you fill out an accident report as soon as possible after a railroad crossing accident. This report should document your injuries and the railroad’s potential negligence. Be aware that the railroad’s own accident report is likely to be biased and may attempt to shift blame onto you. It is important to accurately and truthfully fill out the accident report, even if you are feeling pressure from the railroad’s claim agent or supervisor.
The accident report is a crucial piece of evidence in any FELA case. If you are unsure about how to fill out the report or have any doubts about its accuracy, do not hesitate to seek help from your local chairman or a legal professional. Remember, even minor injuries from a railroad crossing accident can result in significant financial losses, which can be difficult for families or individuals to bear. Don’t risk making a costly mistake by filling out the accident report without proper guidance.
What To Look Out For:
Railroad Claim Agents and the Railroad’s Lawyers: Unfair Tactics
When you are injured in a railroad accident, a claims agent representing the railroad may contact you and ask you to provide a recorded statement regarding the accident and your injuries. This recorded statement is meant to bind you to certain statements before you have a chance to consult with an attorney. However, the claims agent and the medical department may be friendly and appear to want to help you, but they are ultimately working with the railroad’s lawyers.
Claims agents are trained in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and railroad safety regulations, and may use legal language and phrasing that is unfamiliar to you. This can lead you to unintentionally place blame on yourself instead of the railroad, where the fault may actually lie. The claims agent may also ask you legal questions that are difficult for you to answer without the assistance of a lawyer.
Overall, the claims department’s primary goal is to save the railroad money by minimizing the amount of compensation paid out for injury settlements. They are trained to investigate accidents, take recorded statements, ask questions, and gather evidence in a way that reduces the railroad’s liability. It is important to seek the advice of an attorney to protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Why Call Us Prior To Giving a Recorded Statement?
It is important to speak with an attorney before providing a recorded statement because the statement can be used against you in court. An attorney can advise you on what to say and how to say it in order to protect your rights and help you avoid saying anything that could harm your case. Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with the other party or their insurance company on your behalf to ensure that any recorded statement is fair and accurate. It is also important to note that once you are represented by an attorney, you do not have to provide a recorded statement if you do not want to.
Why Not Settle With the Claims Agent?
To determine whether the settlement offered by the claim agent is fair, it is important to consult with a lawyer who has experience handling cases involving disabilities or injuries. The lawyer can help you understand the long-term effects of your injury, including whether it is progressive or has future consequences that may impact your ability to work. Additionally, the lawyer can help you gather medical evidence to support your claim and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
It is also important to be aware that the railroad claims agent may conduct a detailed investigation of your case, and attempt to obtain all of your medical information. This may be done at their own pace and leisure, and may give them some control over the case, including early medical treatment. In some cases, the railroad may even hire a private investigator to follow you and your family around, in order to conduct secret surveillance and try to “catch you lying” about your injuries. This may be done in an effort to make you and your family look bad in court. In these situations, it is crucial to have a lawyer by your side to help protect your rights and interests.
At The Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C. and Doyle Dennis LLP, our designated counsel and team of experienced lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of your case and maximize your damages. We will work tirelessly to help you avoid any potential pitfalls and traps. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.