FELA Claims in Railroad Worker Injury Cases
The most important thing an injured railroad worker should do in a work-related injury is to seek immediate medical attention. A worker’s health and safety are the number one priority in every single injury case – with no exceptions. Once this is completed, the healing process includes filing a claim under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). These claims are often referred to as “FELA claims.” Note that an injured worker should consult a skilled railroad injury lawyer when preparing these documents.
What is a FELA Claim?
Most workers injured in any state file compensation claims with the State’s Department of Worker Compensation. Injured railroad works, though, seeking compensation for the injury, file a claim under FELA. This is because FELA classifies railroad workers as federal employees in that they are involved in interstate commerce. A claimant files a FELA claim in state or federal court.
The Act allows injured railroad workers to receive payment due to:
- Traumatic injuries of all types
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Diseases caused by employment or occupation
- Aggravations of pre-existing conditions
Note as well that workers can receive reimbursement or compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity
How is Negligence Involved?
There is one main difference between FELA and worker’s compensation laws. FELA says that a railroad worker must prove the following to recover any money:
- The employer was negligent in some way, and
- That negligence resulted in the worker’s injury.
Workers’ compensation claimants do not have to make this showing.
Negligence is a legal term that means a railway company either:
- Acted in an unreasonably dangerous way, or
- Failed to take some action, or certain precautions, to ensure the safety of an employee.
There are several ways in which an employee can prove negligence. One example is by showing that the employer did not apply certain safety procedures in its operations. Or, perhaps the company did not provide a worker with certain legally required safety gear or failed to maintain its equipment properly.
Note that there are situations in which both the railway employer and the worker are responsible for causing an injury. In these events, the injured worker receives a lower compensation award than if he was not at fault. The process works by the law placing a percentage on the railroad worker’s degree of fault. The workers claim, then, is reduced by that percentage
Example: Injured Trackman
A trackman is injured while maintaining a railroad track. Facts show that the worker was not acting entirely safe and he was 20 percent at fault for the injury. The worker is now entitled to 80 percent of any compensation awarded, not the full 100 percent.
Are there Deadlines in Bringing a FELA Claim?
FELA does impose deadlines for a claimant to file a claim. The law states that a claim must get filed within three years from the date the railroad worker suffered his injury. The failure to timely file a claim could mean that it gets dismissed.
An important issue on this topic is determining the date of an injury. Some injuries are readily apparent and the date of injury is clear. Other injuries, though, can slowly arise over some time, making it difficult to determine the exact date. The law tries to solve this problem by saying that a worker must file a claim within three years from when:
- The worker discovers his injury, or
- Reasonably should have discovered the injury or illness.
FELA claims are often difficult to establish and the laws in this area can be complex. This is why it is so critical for injured railway workers to file a claim with help from a knowledgeable railroad injury lawyer. The attorneys at Rossi Vucinovich have the skill and experience that makes all the difference. They are tireless in their efforts and passionate in their representation. Contact them now to get the FELA help you deserve.