Railroad Injuries fall under F.E.L.A. – the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which was enacted in 1908 to protect railroad workers from railroad negligence. F.E.L.A. differs from Workers’ Compensation in several ways, principally in that negligence on the railroad employers’ part must be proved for the worker to recover damages. Also, if the workers must demonstrate due care for their own safety, or they will be denied recovery, or only receive a proportion of their benefits.
Negligence by the railroad can be shown in many circumstances:
- Not enough help – as railroads cut employees, this is becoming more common;
- Failing to properly create and maintain sufficient workplace safety rules;
- Failing to properly train employees;
- Failing to provide adequate equipment and tools;
…just to name a few.
F.E.L.A. claims can be commenced in either state or federal court. Your attorney can help you decide which jurisdiction will be more beneficial in your area.
If you are a railroad worker, and you are injured at work, it is important to call an attorney right away. One reason is because the railroad agent will call you for a recorded statement, and these statements often have legalese that can lock you into declarations that you do not understand, and that will be used to deny benefits. If you have an attorney, however, you are not required to give a recorded statement.
In addition to calling an attorney, there are other things you should do right away:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible! You have the right to choose your own doctor, do not use the railroad medical providers. The railroad doctor may have the right to examine you to determine the extent of your injuries, but you can choose your own doctor for treatment – and you should.
- Report your injury. While you have three years to report before the statute of limitations runs out, it is important to report your claim as soon as possible so your claim can be investigated, evidence can be preserved, and your injury noted and dated. You may want your attorney to assist you with the reporting form, as some of the questions are phrased in a way to deflect negligence away from the railroad.
- Let your union representative know that you have been injured.
- Take photographs of the location and any machinery involved in your injury.
- Take photographs of your injuries.
- Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses to your injury.
- File applications to receive Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits and any other supplemental disability benefits provided in your collectively bargained agreement.
- Keep records of your lost earnings, mileage to and from medical providers, and any supplemental expenses.
If you are a railroad worker and have been injured at work don’t wait – call Putnam Law today.