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Mistakes To Avoid In FELA Claims

The federal government grants special protections to rail employees that endure work-related injuries. Through the FELA, such employees can recover financial damages to compensate for medical bills, lost wages, physical suffering, emotional trauma and other considerations.

However, rail workers frequently hamper their ability to collect compensation. Namely, they fail to follow the proper protocol required to make a successful FELA claim. While an experienced attorney can help guide clients around common pitfalls, there are a number of common mistakes individuals must take care to avoid on their own.

What Rail Workers Must Watch Out For

Drawing on our more than 55 years of combined experience in the field, the attorneys at Steel & Moss LLP have identified common missteps injured rail workers make in FELA disputes, which can limit their ability to collect restitution. The following are pertinent actions to avoid:

  • Don't tough it out — In cases of relatively minor injuries — sprains, bruises, muscle tears and so on — many individuals forego seeking medical care and remain on the job. Yet these injuries often develop over time and can become quite severe; it is not uncommon for an injury that began as routine soreness to ultimately force one to retire early and forfeit considerable wages. To obtain financial compensation in such cases, however, requires documenting the injury from the very outset.
  • Don't admit fault — If a rail worker is at fault for his or her own injury, either in whole or in part, the compensation he or she can receive is dramatically reduced. Both rail companies and their insurers endeavor to persuade workers to admit they were responsible for their injuries; it is important to avoid making any undue admissions before consulting with an attorney.
  • Failing to recognize unsafe workspaces — One quickly becomes accustomed to one's working environment, and it can be difficult to identify unsafe conditions. However, machinery falls into disrepair and, rather than make due with the materials at hand, it is important to report defective tools. Likewise, working environments themselves often fail to meet safety standards. If a site is poorly lit, or exposes workers to constant noise or vibration, injuries are liable to take place. In FELA disputes, it is crucial to document such safety hazards with a supervisor as quickly as possible.
  • Failing to provide adequate documentation — As with any legal procedure, establishing documentary evidence is key to FELA disputes. Many individuals delay the filing process until after their injuries have healed, or after any unsafe workspaces have been addressed. It is imperative, though, to have photographs taken of any injuries you suffer and of the site where the injury occurred.
  • Missing deadlines — Under FELA, individuals have three years to file a claim. Those who miss this deadline are unable to obtain compensation. The clock starts when the injury — and not its most obvious symptoms — occurred. As such, the law makes clear that recognizing and documenting injuries from the outset is integral to successful FELA filings.
  • Failing to plan with one's family — All rail workers should consult with their families and devise an emergency plan in the event of an injury. (This should, ideally, be done before any injury occurs.) It is important to lay the groundwork early with regard to how one's home and one's assets will be maintained.

Retaining a knowledgeable lawyer is also essential. To this end, we can assist. Based in Atlanta, and serving throughout the United States, the lawyers at Steel & Moss LLP have helped numerous injured rail workers receive the financial damages and benefits they need to recover.

Legal Support For Injured Rail Workers

If you would like to speak with an attorney and begin your FELA filing, reach out to us. You can call our offices at 866-551-7480 or arrange a free consultation online.