Traumatic Injuries (FELA)
Traumatic Injuries (FELA)
Railroad employee injuries occur often and are frequently catastrophic. Railroad employees risk injury from multiple sources and causes. Under the FELA, an injured worker must prove that the railroad was at fault in causing the injury. The FELA imposes a duty on railroads to provide their employees with “a reasonably safe place in which to work.” It does not require an “absolutely” safe place in which to work. If the injured worker cannot meet their burden of proof on this issue, there will be no monetary recovery whatsoever, regardless of the seriousness of the injury. Therefore, it is critical that an injured worker document any issues that caused or contributed to an injury. This information must be included on the injury report.
There are some exceptions to the fault requirement, such as where the railroad violated the Federal Safety Appliance Act (FSAA), the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) or another safety related regulation. In those instances, the railroad may be liable regardless of fault. Therefore, if there is any violation of a safety statute or regulation, the factual basis for the violation must also be noted in the injury report.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured?
You must verbally report your injury to your supervisor immediately.
You must complete a written accident report form as soon as possible after the injury.
If the symptoms of the injury do not become known right away, then the injury must be reported as soon as you feel any symptoms no matter how minor.
It is CRITICAL if there are any issues of fault (i.e., defective equipment, dangerous working conditions, error of co-employees or management, etc.) they must be listed on the written accident report. Your recovery against the railroad for the injuries and damages you sustain will be based upon negligence of your employer. If there is no railroad negligence that caused in whole or in part the injury you sustained, you will not recover ANY damages for your injury.
Make Sure Your Doctors Know The Following
As a railroad employee, your injury is covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) and not by State Workers’ Compensation Laws.
Tell your doctor not to consult or discuss your medical care with any railroad official without your express written authorization.
Tell your doctor that your railroad employer is not permitted to influence, delay, or deny the medical treatment for your work-related injury.
Tell your doctor that his charges for treating your work-related injury will be paid by your Union negotiated health care plan. Your doctor does not need any authorization from your railroad employer for any treatment he deems to be medically necessary to treat your injuries.
If your doctor requires additional information with regard to these issues, it can be obtained from our office.
How We Handle FELA Traumatic Injury Cases
After initial contact with the Darby Law Group, a member of our railroad practice group will interview you to make a preliminary determination of the nature of the matter. The head of the group, Matt Darby, will follow with a detailed interview and analysis of the issue. Every matter is different. Some require immediate intervention, counseling, and a comprehensive game plan. Others require a “wait and see” approach, with the team remaining in the background to direct the matter but with the hope that it will resolve without legal intervention. Regardless of the approach, the Darby Law Group will remain responsible to you, and in communication with you, throughout the case. We also utilize paralegals and investigators, working under the direction of your attorney, to assist you.
Here Is How Our Process Works
Once retained, we will do the following:
- Inform the railroad claims department that we are representing you.
- Gather necessary medical records.
- Evaluate the medical treatment to insure it is appropriate and not being interfered with by the railroad (which is a violation of the FRSA).
- Evaluate the medical records and history to determine if there are any issues that may be used by the railroad to defend the case.
- Communicate with any “nurse case managers” hired by the railroad to review your medical treatment.
- Interview witnesses to your injury.
- Evaluate any legal issues that may be present in your case, and conduct any necessary follow up legal research.
- Communicate with you and conduct “game-planning” sessions as necessary.
- Determine the appropriate time to begin negotiation with the railroad claims department to see if the case can be settled.
- Prepare a comprehensive settlement package, containing our theory supporting full recovery of damages, medical records with a summary of the medical treatment received, the impact of any permanent injury and the financial impact of the injury.
If negotiation fails, file the appropriate lawsuit and litigate the case to conclusion.
We generally cannot attempt settlement of the case until medical treatment is completed. Once we reach that point, the Darby Law Group will prepare a comprehensive settlement package and attempt to negotiate an appropriate resolution of your case with the railroad claims department. When the settlement offered is not enough to fairly compensate you for the harms and losses sustained, we turn to the litigation phase of your case.
Cases may be litigated in State or Federal Courts. A Judge presides, but a jury decides the factual issues, including the appropriate monetary damages to award. They are generally hard fought by the railroads. We are familiar with the tactics employed and we possess the resources and experience to win.