FELA Claims: What To Do if You Are Injured
The Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA, is a law that protects railroad employees who get hurt on the job. Unlike state workers' compensation laws, FELA covers injured railroad workers for a wider range of issues. It's not just about physical injuries. FELA cases can involve different types of injuries caused by employer negligence.
Suppose you or a loved one have been injured while employed as a railroad worker. In that case, it's important that you take certain steps and precautions after the incident to ensure that your rights to compensation under FELA aren't compromised. For more information on the timeline of a FELA claim, see FindLaw's Chronology of a FELA Claim.
The following are steps you should take as an injured employee if you are looking to file a FELA claim.
Step One: Seek Immediate Medical Help
Once a railroad accident occurs, the first thing you should do is get medical help. This is crucial not just for your health but also for your injury claim. Medical records are important evidence of the injury, the treatments required, and the associated medical expenses. Don't forget to keep a record of every medical treatment you get.
Once you've received any necessary initial medical treatment, you should seek an independent medical evaluation and any additional treatment from your own doctor. Make sure to communicate openly and truthfully with your physician about any discomfort or challenges you're facing due to the incident. Don't forget to secure copies of all documents, like medical records, invoices, and any other paperwork associated with your medical treatment.
Step Two: Report the Injury
Next, make sure to report the injury to your employer as soon as you can. You should report the injury to your supervisor. This is a critical step in the FELA claims and workers' compensation claims processes. Your employer may have you complete an injury report form. Be detailed and thorough in your report. Include the following information in your report:
- Personal information: Include your full name, contact information, and your position in the company.
- Detailed description of the incident: Describe in detail what happened. Include the date, time, and exact location of the incident.
- Type of injury: State the specific type of injury sustained, whether it's a physical injury, an illness due to exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos, or a mental trauma.
- Work situation: Describe what you were doing at the time of the incident. Were you carrying out your normal duties? Were you performing a work task you were assigned? Were you responding to an emergency?
- Involved parties and witnesses: If there were other people involved or who witnessed the incident, include their names, positions, and their role in the incident.
This is not an exhaustive list. Include any information you believe is relevant. Outline the cause and circumstances of your railroad worker injury. Include all possible causes, factors, and conditions that may have contributed to the incident. This document will likely come into play later in your claim process.
In addition to the report made to your employer, make and keep a report for your own records. Describe the incident and your injuries in great detail. This report will be useful for your attorney if you choose to hire one. Explain the nature and extent of your work injury. Describe the impact your injuries have made on your work and personal life.
Step Three: Document Everything
Gather and save all possible evidence related to your injury. This includes not just medical records but also accident reports, witness statements, and any photographs or videos you may have. For example, if you were in a car accident, you might get footage of the accident from a security camera. Remember, in FELA cases, proving employer negligence is necessary. This evidence will serve as proof of your employer's negligence.
You should also track all time lost from work as a result of your injuries. This should include:
- All work missed on the day of the incident
- The time during which you were unable to work because of the injury and any rehabilitation processes
- Any work time missed due to follow-up medical appointments
Step Four: Contact a FELA Lawyer
Seeking legal advice from a FELA lawyer or law office specializing in FELA cases is important. FELA lawyers can help you navigate the often complex process of filing your claim. An experienced FELA lawyer will guide you through the federal court process. They will help you stand up to the insurance company and ensure you get the best possible outcome. As necessary, get in contact with a representative of your union and inform them of the incident and your injuries.
Step Five: File Your FELA Claim
Your FELA lawyer will help you file your FELA claim. This is different from a typical workers' comp or personal injury claim. A FELA claim is filed directly against the railroad industry employer. The claims do not go through workers' compensation insurance. After filing your claim, you should prepare for a case evaluation.
If negotiations don't lead to a satisfactory settlement, you might consider going to trial. Verdicts in FELA cases can be significant, especially in cases involving serious injuries or wrongful death. Be prepared for this possibility. Rely on your FELA lawyer for guidance.
Filing a FELA claim can be a long process. Staying patient and resilient is important. With the right legal advice and the support of your attorney, you can navigate the FELA claims process and get the compensation you deserve. Remember, if you've been injured in a railroad accident or suffered a work-related injury, don't hesitate to seek help.
Need Legal Help With a FELA Claim? An Attorney Can Help
You're not alone in this. There are FELA attorneys who can help your injury case every step of the way. As soon as possible after your job injuries, it's important to consult with an experienced attorney who can help ensure that your rights are protected at all stages of your FELA claim.
It's especially critical to meet with an injury attorney before the railroad company holds a hearing regarding safety and liability issues arising from the incident, as these proceedings can seriously affect your case. A great first step is to have an attorney with FELA claim experience evaluate the facts of your case.
Get in touch with an experienced FELA accident lawyer near you today.
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Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.