View related topics

FELA FAQs

When do I need to report a personal injury?

Many workers fail to report an injury because they feel pressure to not get hurt at work and believe that the injury "will be ok in a few days." When it worsens after a day or two, causing the worker to finally seek medical attention, the railroad disciplinary and formal investigation process will begin to work. The worker will be formally charged with failing to report the injury and falsifying a claim in order to get money.

The best approach is to file an injury report, even if you are unsure how badly you are hurt. Even if you do not need to seek medical attention, you have complied with the rules and protected yourself in the event that the symptoms worsen or intensify with time. The railroad will not usually respond negatively to an injury report until it becomes "FRA reportable," and the act of completing the injury report does not, by itself, make the injury reportable.

Will the railroad really hide and take video surveillance of me?

If you are injured at work, expect the railroad police or a private firm hired by the railroad to watch and record your activities. Most surveillance occurs shortly after the injury when the claim agent does not believe that the worker is badly injured or if the employee refuses to see the "company doctor." If a surveillance team enters your property, call the local police.

I know its not true, but I have heard that the railroad might sue me. Is it possible?

Believe it or not, in extreme cases the railroad will actually sue the injured worker for money for property damage that the railroad alleges was caused by the negligence of the worker. This aggressive tactic is usually aimed at worrying the worker to persuade him to settle his injury case as cheaply as possible. The lawyers at Steel & Moss, LLP can advise you if this happens to you.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me in my FELA case?

The answer depends on the seriousness of your injury and the complexity of your case. At a minimum, you should speak to an experienced attorney known for his skill and expertise in the area of FELA law. At Steel & Moss LLP, we are happy to consult with a railroad worker free of charge and help decide if a lawyer is necessary. (Give us a call — 866-551-7480)

How much do I have to pay an FELA lawyer?

Railroad counsel should charge all railroad workers 25% of the settlement plus expenses. Ironically, lawyers with little or no railroad experience frequently charge more.

Where can I find an experienced railroad lawyer?

Go to www.arla.org for a list of lawyers experienced in handling railroad cases.

If I work for a railroad, can I call Steel & Moss LLP for other matters, including other types of cases?

Yes. We do almost exclusively serious personal injury law, with an emphasis on FELA cases. We also handle other serious and catastrophic cases involving cars and trucks. We are also glad to help family members and close friends with their personal injury cases. Regardless of your situation, we are glad to help you if we can and refer you to a competent lawyer in your area.

If I have a benefits or insurance problem or question, can I still get help?

Yes. At Steel & Moss LLP, we do not only help railroad workers with their FELA cases. Paul Wingo is the Director of Railroad Benefits and Claims at the firm, and he will help anyone who calls with benefits, insurance, or RRB questions. Providing this service is simply part of our commitment to our clients. Please refer to the benefits link on our site for more information about Paul and frequently used forms.

Does every case go to trial?

No. Most cases settle without a trial. We must, however, prepare each case like it will go to trial and be ready. Many cases do not settle until the parties arrive at the "courthouse steps," because only then does the railroad realize that a fair settlement is preferable to a jury trial.

At Steel & Moss LLP, we never forget that the case belongs to the client, and the decision whether to go to trial or settle is in the hands of our clients.

Does every case get filed?

No, but most do. We have found that negotiating with a railroad with a case pending is usually preferable to negotiating pre-suit. The suit puts pressure and deadlines on the railroad, making them more responsive to our clients. Some cases, however, can be settled with no suit pending. These are usually small cases or cases in which the railroad simply admits that it is wrong (a rare occurrence).

Can Steel & Moss LLP help me if I do not live in Georgia?

Yes. We have cases pending in many states in both state and federal court. When we file a case outside the state of Georgia, we associate local counsel to help us with the local matters, but we pay the associated lawyers from the 25% fee. You do not pay twice.

Do clients get charged for phone calls and the lawyers' time?

No. We work on strictly a contingency fee basis and do not charge for calls.

If I go on RRB disability, can I still have an FELA case?

Yes. RRB disability payments have no impact on your ability to bring an FELA case. If you go to trial, the jury never hears that you are receiving RRB benefits.

How do sick benefits affect my FELA case?

Just like disability benefits, sick benefits also have no impact on your FELA case. Sick benefits must, however, be repaid out of your settlement.

Do I have to repay advances from the railroad, dollar for dollar?

Yes.

Is FELA better than workers' compensation?

Yes, in almost every case, FELA is better than workers' compensation. Under FELA, you can recover for lost wages, past and future, lost benefits, including health insurance and pain and suffering. There is no predetermined schedule of payments or cap on the damages. The only caveat is that punitive damages are not allowed under FELA. It is strictly a compensatory damages statute. Don't forget, however, that FELA is a fault-based statute which makes it different from workers' compensation.

What if I get hurt in a van or hotel or the property of an industry? Do I have an FELA case?

Yes, in almost every case. Under FELA, a railroad must provide a reasonably safe place to work, regardless of where your job takes you.