At the Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Orange County, California, we help railroad workers seek compensation for railroad injuries. Unlike most work-related injuries that are covered under the usual workers’ compensation law, railroad injuries are covered under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, your employer’s liability plays a crucial role in determining the compensation you deserve. This is unique since the question of fault is not an issue under the Workers’ Comp Law. Read on to have a clear view of railroad worker injuries under FELA.

What is the Aim of FELA?

Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) has you covered in case of injuries as a railroad worker. Your rights as an employee are considered critical in the aftermath of a workplace injury, which makes any FELA Claim no different. Under FELA, every railroad company has a legal responsibility to ensure that its workers are operating on a conducive environment, including locations not considered railroad properties. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the injured worker to demonstrate any form of negligence on the side of the railroad company or the employer.

Who Can File a FELA Claim?

The injured worker is allowed to file a claim; but if the injuries lead to the death of the worker, FELA allows for the children or the spouse to benefit from the compensation that was meant for the railroad worker. Other close relatives can also claim compensation in the absence of the children or spouse.

Is It Possible to Postpone the Filing of a Claim?

The law stipulates a time limit when it comes to filing a claim to get compensation. You have up to three years from the time of the accident within which compensation claim can be settled, or a lawsuit can be filled. An experienced attorney will tell you that filing your compensation claims early and quicker comes with the benefit of getting financial compensation faster.

Moreover, having your claim filed immediately helps with the evidence. That is, the scene of the accident is preserved in the sense that the materials and equipment available when the accident happened are still within reach. Eyewitnesses can also be available to give their side of the story.

What Is the Compensation for my Injuries upon a Successful Lawsuit?

Under FELA, a successful lawsuit provides the injured railroad worker with compensation for the wage loss, medical treatment, suffering, pain, and mental distress for both past and future damages. The benefit is only received by the children or the spouse of the railroad worker in case of the unfortunate death as a result of the injuries suffered while at work. In the absence of any children or spouse, the compensation is usually given to any living parents or family members of the injured railroad worker.

Is it Possible to Pursue FELA Claim as a Railroad Worker Who Spends Most of the Time in an Office?

This is likely. FELA protects any employed worker in a railroad company when injured while performing his or her job duties, whether your primary responsibilities revolve around trains or in the trains.

Will There be a Court Trial After Filing a FELA Claim for an Injury on the Job?

Not necessarily. There will be a discussion on settling your FELA claim after separate investigations have been conducted by your attorney, railroad company, and other concerned parties. Your claim only goes to trial in the event the parties fail to reach common ground on how to settle your FELA claims.

Is FELA Mainly for Railroad Workers to Receive Compensation?

Not really. You will have to prove any form of negligence on the side of the railroad that led to your injuries. The idea behind FELA claim is to prove that it was the failure of the employer to provide a safe working environment which led to the injury of the railroad workers. It is different from other compensation laws where the injured worker does not need to establish any fault on the side of the employer.

FELA stipulates several duties that an employer or railroad companies need to fulfill towards its workers. Note that, failure to adhere to these duties may lead to finding a fault under FELA.

The railroad companies are charged to provide sensibly safe tools, equipment, safety devices and in general, a safe work environment as well as:

  • Adequate training, assistance, supervision and necessary help should be provided to the workers as they execute their job roles

  • Adherence to safety rules as well as the regulations by railroad workers should be enforced

  • Inspecting work environment as a way to eliminate the hazards that may lead to injuries of the workers

  • Preventing the workers from using unreasonable work areas as a measure of the safety of all the railroad workers

What Does “Featherweight” Fault Mean?

The injured worker bringing up a claim need to show merely the negligence of the respondent; however, small it is compared to the injuries that resulted in the injuries suffered by the worker. This is referred to as the featherweight burden of proof. It gives many advantages to the claimant in need of a legal solution for harm suffered.

What is Comparative Negligence Defense? How Does it Work?

FELA protects a railroad worker in several ways. Proving a fault becomes easy under a FELA claim compared to other laws on workers’ compensation. Comparative negligence comes to the aid of a respondent under a railroad worker, under FELA law. In his or her defense, the respondent will be after proving that to some degree, the injuries incurred were caused by the negligence or fault of the railroad worker. The respondent does this to reduce his or her liability.

In comparative negligence, it is the role of the jury to come up with its findings to determine the party that is liable for legal responsibility for the injuries suffered by the railroad employee. The jury does this by first assigning each party involved a portion of the liability. The liability that is given to the plaintiff always relates to the part awarded to the other parties. For example, in its determination, if the jury finds that 75% of the fault is on the employer or the railroad company while 25% of the blame is on the employee and $100,000 is the total damages for the plaintiff, the respondent’s $75,000 is awarded to the plaintiff as damage settlement.

Under FELA Claim, What Does Alternative Dispute Resolution Mean?

Before a trial is effected, the jury will give a directive to the parties involved to pursue a solution through arbitration, mediation, or compulsory settlement conferences to try and settle the claim. The decision to give room for negotiation is to allow the involved parties to come into a collective agreement on how to resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of all parties. Mediation and arbitration are some of the commonly used alternative methods for trial. If the concerned parties do not reach a consensus, the claim case goes to trial to be settled by the court.

When Should I Involve An Attorney?

The interest of a railroad company and yours are in a different direction at the time of an accident. It is the job of the railroad company to ensure they limit the costs that go in compensation as a way of limiting the liabilities of the company. On the other hand, it is your quest at the time of an accident to get full payment for the injuries suffered as well as the damages incurred.

As soon as an accident occurs within your company, the claim agents and the attorneys in the payroll of your company gets to work preparing and conducting an investigation for evidence useful to the protection of the interest of the railroad company. It is essential to ensure that you get an attorney at this time so that you can also be at work together with your attorney to protect your interest as well as those of your family.

The claim agents are known for reaching out to the injured workers to get supplementary statements apart from filing an injury report or ask your doctor to share information about your medical history. This act is contrary to the law under FELA, and it can only be done successfully in the event you do not have a legal expert to advise you or help you in your case. Having an attorney to handle your case right from the beginning puts you at an advantageous position because you cannot be taken advantage of by the attorney or the claim agent representing your railroad company.

Is FELA a Part of The Worker’s Compensation Benefit Program?

The claim has to be filed through FELA by railroad workers, which is a different case in workers’ compensation. Additionally, the worker has to demonstrate that the railroad company is liable for injuries due to their negligence. Under other laws of workers’ compensation, the injured worker does not need to establish a fault of the employer or the railroad company. This makes the process of filing a legal claim under FELA different from other workers’ compensation arrangements.

In other workers’ compensation programs, the benefits are fixed and limited to cater for the claims or injuries presented by the injured employees. On the other hand, FELA is comprehensive in compensating the injured workers because they get full monetary recovery to cater for the damage suffered by the employee. The benefits include medical expenses, lost wages, pain, mental distress, among others.

Therefore, filing a claim of injury is appropriately and effectively taken care of under FELA because the worker is guaranteed of a comprehensive compensation package in case they win the lawsuit.

What Is the First Procedure for Receiving Railroad Worker Injury Benefits?

You should report the injury suffered to your supervisor. It is your job to ensure the filling of the accident report is done entirely and adequately as spelled out in your union agreement.

What Should I Do When My Company Offers me Insurance Compensation?

It is essential to contact an attorney first before going ahead to sign an agreement. This is because, once you have signed a deal or a document, you merely throw away any protection and compensation under FELA. In the event that the settlement is not enough to cover for your full financial recovery, it will complicate your case.

An experienced attorney handling your case has the task of collecting relevant information for purposes of valuing your claim. The value of the case will be used to decide whether the offer of the settlement being given by your employer or railroad company is sufficient or not. If it is not worth the compensation that you will get after winning a claim lawsuit, your attorney may advise that you consider your case to go for a full trial.

Can Hiring an Attorney Or Filing an Injury Report Lead to Termination?

Under federal law, the railroad companies can’t harass, fire or intimidate you for reporting an injury. The regulation covers and shuns any harassment or intimidation in the form of firing as a way to silence an injured worker from either filing a report for an injury suffered or for preventing an injured employee from receiving appropriate medical treatment. An employer who violates this regulation shall be dealt with according to the law.

The best way to ensure you are not intimidated or harassed in whatever way is to get yourself an attorney to help you in your case. The lawyers are trained to protect you as their client until that time you receive the full benefit as well as ensure that you maintain your job after the conclusion of your claim case.

Am I Allowed To Seek Medication From My Doctor or Wait For a Railroad Company to Recommend One For Me?

Deciding the doctor is in your full discretion. The railroad company or your employer must not recommend for you any doctor, or you should not wait for such recommendations. Seek medical treatment from any doctor of your preference.

What Rights Do I Have Under FELA to Pursue a Claim?

Under FELA laws, you are allowed the right to have a representation of a lawyer of your choice, speak to your attorney about the incident or accident and also to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages you incurred as a result of your injury.

Must I Give a Supplementary Statement Apart from Filing a Report?

There is no requirement under FELA laws that give room for this additional statement. To safeguard and handle your case appropriately and effectively, you need to work closely with your attorney and union representative to ensure your actions are guided by law or have a backing in the law.

After Getting an Injury at Work and Knowing gy Rights Under FELA, Why Do I Need to Contact an Attorney?

Talking to an attorney ensures that your rights are protected. The early stages of your case are very critical. You not only need an attorney at the initial stage but throughout the process until a claim has been settled to your satisfaction. An experienced attorney is fully aware of the laws that can be useful in your case.

The attorney will help you make the right decision on what to do when a situation presents itself, for example, when you are asked to provide an additional statement after filing an injury report or when presented with compensation for your claim different from what is provided under FELA.

Generally, handling and processing everything needed for the successful settlement of your injury claim can only be done by an expert who has done it over and over and has identified the loopholes involved in making certain decisions concerning injury claims.

How Does OSHA Investigations Indicating a Violation of Regulations and Laws Affect the Outcome of my Case?

An investigation that is done by OSHA indicating the railroad company has violated the laws and regulations will influence your claim case positively. Secondly, by demonstrating you were indeed injured, you are sure to win the case. The result of this investigation gives your attorney and you a better chance of winning the settlement because you will have evidence to support and strengthen your case without much effort.

What Are The Common Injuries Covered Under FELA?

Listed below are some of the injuries covered under FELA. The list is not comprehensive. When you hire an attorney, you will know how well your case is covered under FELA. Most injuries arise due to a lack of compliance with the regulations by the railroad companies. Not following these rules means the standards guiding your operations at work are not met. Thus, most workers would be performing their duties in an unsafe work environment and under dangerous conditions. Hazardous equipment and materials that are not correctly kept also cause railroad accidents. Additionally, railroad injuries will occur if the railroad company fails to provide the necessary training to the employees to ensure effective operating practices. The negligence by the railroad company or your employer may lead to the following injuries at work.

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Wrongful deaths

  • Broken bones and fractures

  • Amputation

  • Fire-related injuries

  • Electrical shock

  • Internal organ injuries

Are Repetitive Stress, Trauma, and Occupational Illness Covered Under FELA?

Various forms of injuries are catered for under FELA. These injuries include trauma, occupational illness, and repetitive stress. Your attorney will help you have your injury claims compensated according to the provisions of the law.

Is It A Must For My Doctor To Share My Medical Record With My Employer?

The law stipulates the specific information that your doctor is allowed to share and those that the law prohibits him or her from sharing with any other third parties such as your employer. Your attorney can help to make sure your doctor knows this law and ensure your medical history remains between you and your doctor or the person you deem right to inform.

Why Must my Attorney Scrutinize a Case Already Investigated?

Your attorney needs evidence, and there is no better data for your attorney than what he or she has investigated. The investigation will help the attorney construct a convincing case in presenting your interest. The attorney has to know the exact way the accident happened. Through in-house investigations, all involved parties will be identified, and probably the party at fault will be established. With the information gathered, the attorney can confidently prepare a strong case because they now understand how the accident took place comprehensively.

For the attorney to offer the best advice for you in the event there is an offer for settling your case, the information gathered by the attorney will enable him or her to advise you appropriately to make a suitable decision as to whether to allow your case to be determined in the court or to accept the offer.

How Much Compensation Should I Expect from my FELA Claim?

Various factors contribute to what you will receive as compensation for your injuries or damages. The elements may include; the extent of the injury, hospitalization costs, medical expenses, lost wages for the past, current as well as the future. Factors such as your reduced ability to earn in years to come can be presented by your attorney to ensure you get maximum benefits. Also, you will be compensated for mental anguish, suffering, pain, or emotional stress that you experienced in the past, currently experiencing and also likely to experience in the future.

Contact Orange County Workers Comp Lawyer Near Me

The frequently asked questions discussed in this article addresses some of the concerns on FELA claims and injuries faced by a railroad worker. The questions above may not cover all your concerns. However, you can reach us at The Workers Compensation Attorney Group by calling 562-485-9694 so that we can address any of your concerns. Our Orange County workers’ compensation attorneys understand the guidelines involving FELA and other workers’ comp laws and are ready to help you seek compensation.