Working for a railroad company can be a hazardous business. There are many places that can potentially be dangerous and if your employer doesn’t make sure that you’re working in a safe environment, it can be easy to get injured. The sad news is that your employer is not likely to have your best interest at heart. Railroad accidents fall under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) which means that they have to compensate you for all of your losses if it’s proven that they were negligent. And they definitely don’t want to do that.
Covering up negligence
Naturally, they will do their very best to cover up their negligence and let you take the fall. They will try to make you feel like a bad person for filing a complaint and will trivialize your injuries. When you do decide to file a complaint, they will try to get you to confess that it was your fault. They will bombard you with confusing incident and accident reports in the hope that it will hide their negligence.
This is why it’s important to collect evidence of your injuries, get witness accounts such as eyewitnesses or fellow employees that can confirm that the working environment was dangerous and that it was brought under the attention of the railroad company. Keep a diary where you note down anything that you can remember about the accident and the events following the accident.
Contact a personal injury lawyer
The first thing that railroad workers need to understand about the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) when it comes to workplace injuries is that this act is quite different compared to Worker’s Compensation. FELA allows for full recovery of damages due to a negligent act of the railroad company or a co-worker. Because of this, railroad companies try their best to hide their negligence and to prevent you from collecting evidence of your injuries that can be used in a FELA case. Don’t buckle under the pressure – contact a professional lawyer with experience in FELA cases to help you claim compensation for the damages that you suffered.
Medical care first
It’s very important that you seek medical care immediately and without the interference of your employer to ensure that the medical care you receive only pertains to your workplace injury and is also unbiased. Any prescriptions, X-rays etc. as well as lost time means that your employer need to report your accident to the Federal Government, and as you can imagine, your employer will be very reluctant to do so.
If you’re planning on filing a FELA complaint you have to be very specific when you tell your doctor about how you sustained your injury. Be sure to mention any faulty equipment or dangerous working environments when describing the incident. Your doctor can serve as a medical witness, but can only give accurate information if you provide it. In follow-up visits, be very specific about any symptoms you are still experiencing. Tell your doctor about the pain in your knee when your sit down, or the pain in your back when you wake up in the morning. This will help your doctor to set up an accurate treatment plan and will also help your doctor to describe the full extent of your injuries when called upon as a medical witness.
- Witnesses who knew about the unsafe working conditions
- Witnesses who knew about any complaints filed about the unsafe conditions
- Any persons you have talked to about the incident other than company officials
- Any person who have knowledge of the car or equipment that you worked with
- Any person with experience in your specific job
- Social contacts who can contest that you are behaving in a way that indicates personal suffering
Use a daily diary to collect evidence
Write down every detail of your day in a daily diary. This will give you ample information on how your work was affected by your injury, how much income you lost due to lost work days, your employer’s attitude towards you after the incident and so forth. The information in your diary will be very useful when preparing your FELA case.
Don’t fill out the incident report before you’ve received medical attention. Make sure that you have a clear mind when you fill out the form so that you don’t miss any details that may prove the negligence of your employer. If your employer fills out the form on your behalf, be sure that you are of sound mind when you read it and only sign if you’re absolutely certain that the information on the form is correct.
The purpose of this report is to determine whether the accident was due to negligence. This form bombards you with confusing questions and often results in proving that you were working in a safe environment and that the employer was not at fault. Be very careful when you fill out the report and take your time to make sure that you understand what is meant by each question if you want to file and win a FELA case.
Violation of safety acts
By law, railroad companies need to abide by the specifications of two acts to ensure that they have created a safe working environment: the Locomotive Inspection Act and the Federal Safety Inspection Act. If your employer violated any of these acts, it serves as proof that they were definitely at fault. Consult a lawyer who is familiar with FELA to help you prove whether your employer violated these laws.
Be sure that your lawyer is familiar with FELA cases
Many personal injury lawyers claim that they handle FELA cases, but in truth have limited experience in this matter. Ask your law firm whether they have dealt with FELA cases before, how long they have been taking care of FELA cases, and whether they have won any of these cases.
Linden Law specializes in FELA cases and you can trust our lawyers to give you the legal advice and services that you need to win your FELA case.