7 Mistakes That Can Derail FELA Benefits

7 Mistakes That Can Derail FELA Benefits

Railroad accidents can leave workers with severe, and sometimes fatal, injuries. At Rossi Vucinovich PC, we have been helping injured railroad workers for more than 50 years. We have seen, firsthand, the debilitating effect a work-related railroad accident has on our clients’ ability to work and live their lives.

We have the ideal injury lawyer that is committed to helping you protect your rights under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and maximize your compensation. Contact us today.

Rossi Vucinovich PC has more than 50 years of FELA experience. From our office in Seattle, we represent injured railroad workers throughout Washington, Oregon, Colorado and the greater northwest.

The Seven Most Common Mistakes That Compromise Your FELA Benefits

Mistake #1: Assuming You’re Covered By Workman’s Compensation And Not FELA

FELA is a federal law that was created to protect railroad workers who are injured on the job. Because railroad work is interstate, workers are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws. Your only path to recovery after a work-related injury is under FELA.

Mistake #2: Not Consulting Your Union-Designated Legal Counsel Immediately

Under FELA you must prove the railroad was negligent in order to obtain benefits. Speaking with the railroad’s claims department about the accident or your injury is risky and could jeopardize your chances of obtaining compensation. Do NOT sign any papers or medical releases or make any statements orally or in writing before consulting with an attorney.

Mistake #3: Not Knowing Your Medical Care Rights

Your supervisor or a company representative does NOT have the right to go with you to your doctor. Any conversations you have with your doctor are privileged and may not be shared with your employer without your consent. This includes your diagnoses, treatment options, prognosis and any discussion regarding when you can return to work. The only person you should discuss your medical information with, other than your doctor, is your union-designated legal counsel.

Mistake #4: Misunderstanding Work-Related Injuries

Two types of railroad work-related injuries are covered by FELA: on-the-job injuries and injuries due to work duties.

On-the-job injuries are injuries that occur while you are actively clocked in at work. These include injuries due to accidents such as fires on the train, brake malfunctions, defective equipment, collisions, ladder or platform accidents, unsafe work procedures.

Injuries due to work duties include physical disabilities that may occur later in life but can be traced back to your work duties. Common examples of these injuries include lung cancer, whole body vibration (WBV), bumps and vibration shock, repetitive stress injuries and other injuries caused by long-term exposure.

Mistake #5: Thinking Legal Counsel Is Not Important

You have the right to talk to an attorney and the railroad cannot punish you or fire you for talking to one. One of the biggest mistakes injured railroad workers make is not thinking they need an attorney. The railroad company will have its own lawyers fighting your claim. You need someone with equal experience fighting in your corner.

Mistake #6: Not Using Your Union-Designated Legal Counsel

FELA is a unique area of law. Attorneys who handle these cases must be well-versed in the procedures, rules and timelines governing your claim. Your union designates lawyers who are experienced and skilled in handling train injury cases. These lawyers also often have substantially lower fees than do average personal injury attorneys. It is in your best interests to hire a union-designated attorney to work on your case.

Mistake #7: Missing Deadlines And Not Understanding FELA Limitations

You have three years to bring a claim under FELA. If you miss this deadline you will not be able to get compensation. Claims brought under FELA are subject to many strict rules and procedures. One misstep and you could accidentally forfeit your rights. Do not attempt to handle your own claim and do not hire an attorney who is inexperienced in FELA claims. The best way to protect yourself is to work with union-designated legal counsel.

For more information about your FELA claim, call us at 425-646-8003 or 866-357-7245. Consultations are free.

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Comments (1)

  1. Ronald Ernest Szabo said:

    I spoke with Jim I think he is one of your investigators. I was involved in a crossing grade collision with a semi tractor trailer we hit the trailer. The semi was cited for failing to stop at a stop sign. We hit the semi at about 40 mph at Railroad Avenue, Ault, CO. The event of course was stressful and caused me anxiety. I was placed on 3 day critical incident. After my 3 days off I was called to the Superindent Offices where I was told I would be charged with a critical incident ending my job with them as a result of the driver of the semi I had a split second to perform an Emergency Application of the brake system. I failed to perform the multi-step process resulting in a derailment of four railcars in my train.

    I could not see the semi truck till after I cleared the scale house that interfered with seeing the semi and for him to see my train MNYCY 17. There may exist multiple close call reports made about that crossing even though it still remains with no crossing gates. Just like at Evans north end crossing went without gates for years it took two teenage deaths to bring change to that location.

    The end result for me loss in wages, maybe having to change careers after a 13 year career at the railroad. I was having a home built with 20,000 dollar loss due to non-refundable down payment. Potential burden to pay normal living expenses, loss of my families health benefits. Sleepless nights more stress, anxiety, and depression related to this event.

    My investigation is pending but the verdict of that will be black and white since I made a mistake regardless of the fact I had little time to prepare for performing the rule to the letter. The railroad will expect to be made whole by the trucking firm’s insurance but what about my losses due to the truck driver’s action?