I recently got diagnosed with asthma and COPD. My doctor think my lung problems could be related to my railroad job. Did I need to file an accident or injury report for this to be related to the railroad and to make a FELA claim? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

No. There is no provision of FELA, the federal law that allows railroad workers to bring injury and occupational illness claims against their employers, that requires the filing of a written injury report in order to recover compensation under the act. Technically, the law properly known as the Federal Employers’ Liability Act imposes no duty or need for a harmed worker to ever file an injury report.

We do recommend, however, that you file a report when you learn that your physical problems, disease or disorder has been caused by incidents or exposures to dangerous fumes or toxic chemicals while you were working on trains, in rail yards or on tracks.

If your doctor believes your serious lung disease, cancer or health problems were caused by railroad workplace exposure to toxic substances, please call us for a free confidential consultation. These types of claims cannot be pursued under workers’ compensation laws. Railroad workplace injuries fall under the FELA, which, like workers’ comp, provides for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, permanent injury, disability and other injury- or occupational illness-related costs.

Learn more: As Carolina and Virginia attorneys specializing in FELA and railroad injury law, we offer hundreds of pages of information to help you learn your rights and recover compensation if you’ve been hurt on the job, riding trains or crossing rail tracks.