We get this question a lot since many railroaders have heard about "damage caps" in medical malpractice cases. Fortunately, FELA (i.e. the Federal Employers Liability Act) does not penalize victims and there is no arbitrary damage cap for your on-the-job railroad injury.
This does not mean there aren't specific requirements you need to follow when it comes to filing a FELA claim. For example, there is a three-year statute of limitations. The three-year time limit begins from the date you suffered your injury.
- Repetitive Trauma Claims Under FELA
- What Not to Do When Injured in a Railroad Accident
- FELA: Overview of the Duty to Provide Reasonable Assistance
"But what if I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and don't know the exact date I contracted the disease?" Good question. Courts have determined that in these cases, the statute of limitations may begin when you were first informed, or should have reasonably known, of your occupational disease. The issue of when you should have "reasonably known" is routinely contested by the railroad company during the litigation process, which is why you need to consult with a lawyer on these matters.
The fact that there is no damage limitation in FELA claims is good public policy. The severity of the injuries can vary and trying to set a random damage limits is virtually impossible when, on one hand, a railroad engineer can suffer a lower back injury while a trainman can wind up losing their life to lung cancer.
If you've suffered a serious injury while working for CSX, Norfolk Southern, or any other railroad and are considering filing a FELA claim, speak to a lawyer as soon as humanly possible. We can help ensure your claim if filed appropriately and within the aforementioned statute of limitations.