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The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.

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  • The railroad sent me a pamphlet saying it would fairly compensate me for my work injury. They say that if I hire my own lawyer it will cost a fortune and take all of the money. Is the railroad telling me the whole story?

    Of course not.  First of all a lawyer must present a written agreement in order to become your attorney and it sets forth the legal fee, which is typically a percentage of the recovery-so the worker is not paying out of  pocket unless there is a recovery.  What the railroads never tell you, is they are having their lawyers figure out ways to defeat your claim while you deal with the claim agent, and vital evidence that you own lawyer would acquire is not being acquired on your behalf.  But, if you have permanent injuries not hiring a lawyer is even worse.  The railroad claims agent will never get reports from your doctors about the permanent injuries you have suffered in order to decide to pay you MORE for permanent consequences of your injury.  The claim agent will totally ignore the future consequences.  And, the claim agent will never tell you whether the railroad is aware that it violated a safety regulation or was negligent, which is a condition that you must prove in order to recover under the governing FELA law.  You should seek a free confidential consultation from an experienced railroad attorney at our firm if you have any concerns after reading this.

  • What is the period of time to file a suit for railroad worker on the job injury claims under the FELA (Federal Employer’s Liability Act)?

    Three years from when the worker knew or should have known that their injury or disease arose from work at the railroad.  In disease cases, the key is when the 3 year timeframe begins is the tricky issue, so consult with one of our experienced Virginia railroad worker injury attorneys on this issue.

  • I felt something in my back while I was doing a work task several days ago and one of my co-workers knows about it. I didn't file an accident report but now my doctor says I may need to get an MRI. Is it too late for me to make a work-related claim or file an accident report?

    It's definitely not too late because the federal law governing worker claims for on‑the‑job injuries does not require an accident report ever have been filed.  Also, a railroad cannot fire you for simply making a report at the point where your problem manifests into a serious injury.  Consult with an experienced railroad accident injury attorney at our firm if this is a situation you find yourself in.

  • I've been diagnosed with a lung disease, and I don't know when it really started. Do I have to fill out an accident report for a disease that I think has been caused by something at the railroad?

    The federal law governing worker claims against their railroad employer is called the Federal Employers Liability Act.  There is no mandatory requirement for any written accident report.  Consult with an experienced Virginia railroad worker injury attorney as to whether you should demand that one be filed for a disease that does not have a clear original date it began.

  • I got hurt, but didn't realize how bad it was. I didn't file an accident report and days have gone by. Is it too late to file one now?

    No, the federal law that governs railroad worker injury claims on the job, has no requirement that an accident report ever have been filed. There is a three-year statute of limitations for worker injury claims against railroads.  While you can suffer some adverse work consequences with a late filing, there is no accident report filing necessary in order to present a valid claim.  If your injury is significant, ask to file the accident report, since a railroad is not permitted to retaliate against a worker for exercising rights under the FELA (Federal Employer’s Liability Act).

  • If I'm injured while working for the railroad by a defective part of a locomotive or car, do I have to be able to prove the specific defect to have a case under the FELA, Locomotive Inspection Act or Safety Appliance Act?


                The FELA is the general law which protects railroad workers who are hurt while working for a railroad.  The Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) and Safety Appliance Act (SAA) are amendments to the FELA.  Those regulations provide generally a railroad is strictly liable to an employee injured by a defective part or condition on a locomotive or railcar.  This means if an employee establishes that such a defect caused his or her injury, any contributory negligence or lack of reasonable care on the part of the railroad are not essential to the claim.  The claim focuses solely on the defective part or condition.  There are two methods for an employee to establish a part of a locomotive or railcar was "defective" for LIA or SAA coverage.  The first is through evidence of the cause of the defect in the equipment, such as a missing pin in a coupler.  The second is through evidence the equipment did not "operate as intended" at the time of the injury, such a brake wheel which unexpectedly catches or releases.  The employee's description of the failure of equipment may be enough to establish a case under these circumstances, but the more supporting evidence the better, particularly testimony from eyewitnesses to the failure of the equipment.

  • Does the fact I was hurt while working for a railroad automatically qualify me for benefits under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)?

    The FELA is not a workers' compensation law which automatically covers employees that are injured while working for a railroad.  It is a "negligence" based law which means the employee must prove some type of negligence on the part of the railroad contributed in any way, "even in the slightest", to the injury suffered by the employee.  Although the FELA does not provide automatic coverage to employees injured while working for the railroad, the U.S. Supreme Court has directed courts handling FELA cases to keep in mind the Congressional intent of the stature, protection of railroad employees and to apply the protection of the laws liberally.  With this direction in mind, courts have interpreted the FELA to require a railroad to provide employees with a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably safe and suitable tools, and well as adequate assistance.  These general protections of railroad workers are in addition to safety regulations such as the Locomotive Inspection Act and Safety Appliance Act.

  • If I am hurt while working for the railroad do I need to file an accident/injury report with the company to have a case?

    The short answer to this question is "No".  A FELA case does not typically depend on whether an accident report was filed with the company, but failure to do so may have other consequences.  Most railroads have internal rules that require the filing of an accident report by an injured employee (if they are physically able) prior to leaving duty on the day of the injury.  Failure to comply with this rule may result in company-imposed discipline.  Usually an accident report also helps in the investigation of a claim.  It contains specific factual details about the injury such as the location and identity of the equipment involved in the incident.  If any question arises whether such a report should be filed, it is a good idea to consult with union leaders to discuss the facts surrounding the specific incident.  They are typically knowledgeable of the reporting requirements of the railroad.  It is the rule of the particular railroad that require the filing of an accident report, not the FELA.  So whether a case exists which we could provide help to an injured worker does not depend on the filing of an accident/injury report.

  • What types of monetary damages are recoverable under FELA?

    In a FELA, or Federal Employers' Liability Act, case, Virginia railroad injury victims should attempt to recover the following:

    1. Past and future medical expenses, including hospitalization expenses.
    2. Past and future lost wages.
    3. Past and future pain and mental suffering compensation.
    4. Past and future disability and loss of earning capacity.
    5. Permanent injury, deformity or disfigurement compensation.

    Keep in mind that recovery under FELA is granted instead of recovery under state workers' compensation laws, and recovery is not permitted for both FELA and workers' compensation. FELA allows financial recovery for pain and suffering, with the amount being decided by a jury based on comparative negligence, rather than according to a predetermined benefits schedule, such as that used in ordinary workers' compensation cases.

    Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina 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. You may find our list "What Not to Do After a Railroad Accident" especially helpful.

  • What are important steps Virginia railroad injury victims should take after being hurt while working for a rail company?

    Any rail employee who gets injured or made ill on the job should take the following steps

    1. Report the injury to your employer by completing an injury report.
    2. List all relevant details in the report, including any condition or other factor that could have contributed to the railroad injury. This is important because FELA, the Federal Employers' Liability Act, unlike workers' compensation, is fault-based and requires a finding that the rail company was negligent in some way. If you don't include all contributing causes when you fill out the accident or injury report, it may later be used as evidence against you.
    3. Discuss your injury with co-workers and ask them if they would be willing to testify as witnesses for you at trial, if necessary. Also, ask them to record their observations as soon as possible after the railroad accident occurs.
    4. Visit a doctor. But remember, you are not required to see a company doctor. You can see your own doctor to get an independent and unbiased assessment of your railroad injuries.
    5. Keep accurate records of lost wages, expenses, travel costs, and other financial costs related to the railroad injury. Try to keep copies of all receipts.
    6. Keep logs of your discomfort and physical symptoms resulting from the injury and make sure to inform your doctor of these symptoms.
    7. Contact a Virginia railroad injury lawyer for a free, no-hassle consultation regarding your railroad injury claim.

    Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina 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. You may find our list "What Not to Do After a Railroad Accident" especially helpful.

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