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FELA And Rail Injury Coverage

FELA governs the rights of rail workers who are injured at work. The statute is extremely broad and includes a variety of situations, some of which are obvious, many of which are not.

The simplest scenario is that of a worker who suffers an injury at work in a single discreet event, as when an engineer slips and falls on an engine. Other injuries are more subtle. For example, our firm has worked with many rail workers who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and ultimately developed pulmonary injury and cancer. These asbestos cases can be filed under the FELA, even if the worker had other exposures during his life outside the railroad, and regardless of whether the employer is a large Class I carrier or a small short line railroad.

In certain situations, workers who are not even employed by a railroad have rights under the FELA. If a contract laborer employed suffers injury while performing track repair, for instance, the laborer likely has a FELA claim if the railroad ultimately controls the work and the workplace.

Such situations are fact-specific, and we encourage injured parties to call Steel & Moss LLP at 866-551-7480 should they have any questions about the viability of a claim. We can also be reached online.

How To Report An Accident

Any worker involved in an accident should immediately report the incident to the company. When filling out the accident report, be as accurate as possible, but ask permission to fill the form out later if you are in pain and cannot complete the form with a clear head. Consider having the local or general chairman of the Union present when such forms are filled out and signed. It is very important to identify all negligence and defective equipment on the accident report — otherwise, you may not receive all the compensation to which you are entitled.

Handling Claim Agents

After the initial injury report is completed, a claims agent representing the railroad will probably ask an injured worker to give a recorded, oral statement concerning the accident. In some cases, railroads require injured workers to give such statements. Preparation, including speaking with a Union official and an experienced attorney, is essential. Seemingly harmless statements have the potential, when managed by an experienced claim agent, to severely damage the value of a FELA case.

After all, the claims agent's job is to save the railroad money and keep settlements for injuries as low as possible. As such, workers should be cautious when making any statement.

Seek Out A Doctor You Trust

An injured worker who needs medical attention should see his own doctor. Often the railroad will take the position that it is not responsible for paying medical bills unless the worker goes to a "company doctor." This is not true.

Railroad workers have health insurance as part of their benefits package, and they also have the right to use their insurance to pay for medical treatment from the doctor of their choosing. Every injured employee should consult with the very best medical provider available to minimize and prevent potential long-term effects of the injury.

To this end, an injured worker can call a union official or an experienced railroad lawyer with questions regarding medical care and how to keep insurance in effect while the employee is off work.

A Legacy Of Experience

The lawyers at Steel & Moss LLP have more than 55 years of combined experience in FELA matters. Arrange an appointment with our team to see how we can help. Initial consultations are free.