Filing a FELA (i.e. Federal Employers Liability Act) claim against a railroad company like Norfolk Southern, Conrail or CSX can be intimidating, but the unease and trepidation can be even worse when you’re also battling a debilitating cancer like mesothelioma. As FELA lawyers who have handled numerous mesothelioma cancer claims from asbestos exposure and lung cancer claims from diesel fume exposure against big railroads, we want our clients to be fully prepared for what’s ahead and a claim is filed. Here are three things you should expect during the litigation process:
1. The railroad will probably argue that your mesothelioma was caused by “other” factors outside of work.
This is one of the most typical asbestos cancer case defenses used by railroad lawyers. They’ll point to almost anything (examples: smoking, genetics, your home or another area where you could have breathed in asbestos, the surrounding area where you live, etc.) to try and avoid accepting liability. This is despite the fact that you may have spent years breathing in toxic asbestos fibers (even microscopic fibers invisible to the naked eye) or diesel exhaust fumes while on the job. We even had a railroad defense lawyer challenge the validity of our clients cancer diagnosis while our client was undergoing painful chemotherapy treatment (as if our client would undergo chemotherapy to try and pull off some elaborate ruse against the railroad!). So don’t be surprised if the railroad makes a similar challenge regarding your mesothelioma or other lung cancer.
2. The word “loyalty” has very little meaning for a railroad defense lawyer
You could have worked for a railroad for 30+ years; been an exemplary employee and done everything right. If you file a mesothelioma claim against the railroad seeking monetary damages, all those years of service are likely to be thrown out the window. Why? Because, at the end of the day, the railroads are focused on one thing – the bottom line. If your claim will hurt with their profits, they will do whatever they can to devalue your claim or try to avoid liability altogether. That is why you need to have an experienced FELA attorney who understands the common tricks utilized by railroad defense lawyers.
3. Railroad defense lawyers love to drag out cases, so the litigation process could be lengthy.
Unfortunately, even if you have an airtight case, a common defense tactic for asbestos cancer claims is to simply delay and drag out a case for as long as possible. The railroads do this for two reasons: (1) to try and drain your legal counsel of resources and (2) to try and force you into a position where you will accept a lowball settlement offer. For example, we had an asbestos cancer case that wasn’t resolved for over four years. Finally, after a two-week jury trial, our firm was able to secure a multi-million dollar verdict (which was, not surprisingly, challenged by the railroad defense lawyers with massive post-verdict motionsl). This fact isn’t meant to dissuade you from pursuing an asbestos claim, but to make sure you understand how this is pitched battle. The length of the litigation is determined by a myriad of factors so there is no typical timeline for a FELA mesothelioma or asbestos cancer claim.
For more information about railroad asbestos and mesothelioma, check out these articles which were written by experienced FELA lawyers:
- Learn how mesothelioma can affect virtually any railroad worker
- Information about the link between asbestos and mesothelioma
- Watch this video where railroad worker injury attorney Richard Shapiro discusses crazy arguments used by railroad defense lawyers
- Check out this testimonial provided by our client’s son discussing his father’s asbestos mesothelioma case
- Railroad Worker Asbestos Mesothelioma: How attorneys prove the railroad case