Railroad workers that receive injuries on the job are not covered under state Workers' Compensation laws, but rather under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Enacted in 1908 by the United States Congress, FELA was created to protect the world's most thriving industry at the time, the railways. The Federal Employers Liability Act requires railroad companies to provide their employees with a "safe place to work." According to the Illinois Circuit Court,
"The Federal Employers' Liability Act provides that whenever an employee of a railroad is injured or killed while engaged in the course of his employment, the railroad shall be liable in damages to the injured employee and/or for the death of the employee, where the injury and/or death results in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or other employees of the railroad or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to the railroad's negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves or equipment."
Railroad workers injured on the job will need to prove that the railroad company failed to provide a reasonably safe place to work and that this oversight or mistake caused the injury. FELA laws are very complex and the events that immediately occur after the injury is sustained are the most critical in proving fault.
It is crucial to take the proper steps to make sure you are protected under FELA. The railroad accident attorneys at Peter Higgins Law have provided some do’s and don’ts for railroad workers injured on the job.
Do: Notify your supervisor and report the railroad injury immediately.
Do: Seek medical attention, if your supervisor does not make sure you receive immediate medical attention, do not wait.
Do: Document the railroad injury and your medical visits, make sure to keep all medical papers and fill out an accident report. State all possible witnesses of your accident.
Do Not: Fill out any forms until you are mentally and physically able to. When possible, check first with your personal injury attorney.
Do Not: Allow railroad management into the examining room. You doctor should not discuss your injury with anyone but yourself.
Do: Contact your Union Representative. It's important to protect your legal rights, so make sure to contact your Union Representative as soon as possible.
Do Not: Sign and release your medical history.
Do: Ask your Union Representative for help in filling out the railroad accident report, especially if you have never filed one before.
Do: Be as thorough and specific as possible when describing your injuries and the railroad accident itself.
Do: Keep track of the time you missed at work.
Do Not: Return to work prematurely. If your doctor told you not to work, do not work. Returning without begin 100% healed could affect your safety and the safety of others. If you accept light duty at work, it could also affect the amount of settlement money you receive.
Do Not: Give a statement to the railroad. FELA does not require you to give a recorded statement to the railroad beyond filing out the company's accident report.
If you feel anxious or pressured after a railroad accident, or are looking for more information on your FELA and rights, contact Peter Higgins Law for assistance.