Injury compensation under FELA can be larger and more comprehensive compared to a workers’ comp claim. However, an injured railroad worker will have to seek damages from the court under a different set of rules.
Time Limits on Filing a FELA Claim
The federal law sets the statute of limitations for filing a FELA lawsuit for damages. You must file your claim within three years from the date of your accident and injury. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this stipulated time limit, chances are that you will be barred from making a claim later, and the court may determine that you aren’t entitled to receive any damages.
In some cases, the date from which this period of three years will be counted can be complicated depending on what type of injury you suffered. For instance, if your railroad accident caused a hearing loss or asbestos-related cancer, determining the date of injury becomes problematic.
In general, the answer to this quandary is that statute of limitations will become application from the date you came to know, or should have know, that: (a) you are suffering from an injury; and (b) the injury occurred at the workplace.
If you neglect or ignore the symptoms, or fail to seek a medical diagnosis, the time lost in this process may be deducted from your statutory time limit of three years to bring a FELA claim. Therefore, your first step following a railroad accident should be to get a medical check-up, even if you initially do not have any symptoms or are feeling fine.
Diligently following the advice of medical professionals will prove useful at a later stage for determining these issues such as the statutory time limits for filing your claim.
Types of Injuries Covered Under FELA
FELA generally covers 4 types of injuries for railroad employees:
- Traumatic injuries, including broken bones and fractures, pulled muscles, and joint sprains
- Repetitive motion injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Occupational diseases, such as lung cancer, hearing loss, and asbestosis
- Worsening or re-emergence of a pre-existing illness or injury
Proving Negligence of the Railroad
FELA requires the injured railroad worker to prove negligence of the railroad, and that the negligence contributed to their injury. Railway’s acts of negligence generally fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Failure to create and maintain proper and sufficient safety rules at the workplace
- Failure to provide proper training to the employees
- Failure to equip the workers with adequate tools
- Failure to provide sufficient manpower for a particular task
Lower Burden of Proof
It is notable that the degree of fault (“burden of proof”) that an injured worker is required to show in a FELA claim is relatively lower than the amount of fault that a victim would ordinarily need to establish in a traditional personal injury claim (such as injuries occurring in a car accident).
An injured railroad worker seeking damages under FELA is only required to prove that the defendant was “somehow negligent.” In addition, they must show that the defendant’s negligence, irrespective of how minor it may be in comparison to the severity of their injuries, contributed in some way to those injuries.
In legal parlance, this is sometimes termed as “featherweight” burden of proof, which serves as an advantage for the victim who is seeking a legal remedy under FELA for their injuries.
Choose an Experienced FELA Attorney to Evaluate Your Claim
It is your legal right to obtain full compensation under FELA for your injuries suffered as a railroad employee. You should hire the services of a competent FELA attorney who is determined to provide you strong legal representation. Consult with Shapiro & Appleton for the right legal advice and support. Call us at (833) 997-1774 to schedule a consultation.