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FELA Railroad Settlements & Verdicts

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or FELA, allows railroad employees injured on the job to sue their employers for negligence and seek compensation for their injuries. Workers and their loved ones often recover significant amounts of money for railroad work injury settlements and verdicts because these types of injuries can be severe or deadly. The skilled attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve with our experience in FELA railroad settlements. 

Railroad work can be a hazardous job. Workers are exposed to toxic chemicals and high-voltage electricity, and the trains themselves can be dangerous. There are about three train derailments every day in the United States, and though most aren’t major disasters, the fact remains that railroad workers are injured every day.

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or FELA, was enacted by Congress in 1908. It protects the rights of railroad workers to compensation for their injuries. Under FELA, railroad workers are exempt from workers’ compensation statutes that would keep them from suing their employers after being injured at work.

Because railroad workers can sue their employers, they can collect compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Railroad workers earn much more than typical blue-collar workers because of the demands and risks of their jobs. Thus, when they are injured, their lost wages can lead to significant economic damages. 

In addition, FELA allows for recovery of non-economic damages like pain and suffering. FELA cases often settle for significantly higher amounts than workers’ compensation cases, which do not allow for recovery of such damages. 

These are just a couple of the reasons why FELA cases on behalf of injured railroad workers result in settlements or jury verdicts for extremely high amounts of money.

If you’re a railroad worker injured on the job, an experienced FELA attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can evaluate your case, help you understand your rights, and pursue a FELA railroad settlement. 

Factors Determining Railroad Injury Settlements

Railroad accidents and other safety hazards railroad workers face often lead to serious injuries. In 2021, there were 3,216 employee injuries and illnesses and 11 employee deaths on railroads. 

Because serious worker injuries and wrongful death are so frequent in the railroad industry, many employees receive high railroad injury settlement amounts and awards through trial verdicts. 

The factors below determine the amount of the verdict or settlement.

The Severity of the Injury

The more severe the injury, the more it impacts the injured party and their loved ones. For example, if an injury leaves you with a long-term disability, you’ll have higher medical costs and lost income than if you experienced a short-term injury such as an ankle sprain. As a result, the severity of the injury is a key factor in how much compensation you get. 

Railroad workers do extremely dangerous work. Railroad equipment weighs hundreds of thousands of pounds, and trains move at high speeds. That means a major physical injury will likely result if you get hit by a car or a locomotive. Often, railroad workers suffer catastrophic injuries in crashes and other railroad accidents. 

Lost Wages

If you’re injured in a railroad accident, you may lose significant time from work. In the case of a permanent disability, you might be permanently unable to work. If your loved one dies from a railroad accident, the results can be just as financially devastating for your family.  

In a railroad injury settlement, employees who can’t return to work are compensated for the wages lost due to an employer’s negligence. 

Railroad workers tend to earn a relatively high pay rate due to long hours and the high risks posed by their work. So, if workers get injured and cannot return to railroad work, their families suffer serious economic harm. 

For example, if a railroad engineer earns $90,000.00 a year and suffers a permanent injury, he will lose the value of his earnings for the rest of his work life. This can add up to some very big figures. If the railroad worker was 50 when he got hurt, he could lose at least 15 years of earnings at $90,000.00 a year plus benefits. That’s over $1,300,000.00 in just economic losses. 

Medical and Funeral Expenses

Injured railroad workers or their family members can also be compensated for medical expenses. Because injuries in railroad accidents are often severe and complex, medical expenses can be steep. You may need surgery, physical therapy, or long-term rehabilitation to treat your injuries. Hold on to medical bills so your attorney can factor these into your case.

In the tragic event of a railroad worker’s death due to a workplace accident, their family can also sue the railroad company for funeral expenses. 

Non-Economic Damages

In addition to financial damage, railroad accidents can also cause devastating emotional impacts on the injured worker or their family. These non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society, companionship, or consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment in life

To sue for non-economic damages, you will need a licensed mental health professional to give you an evaluation and be able to attest to the pain and suffering you have experienced because of the accident.

Unlike workers’ compensation claims, FELA claims allow for the recovery of these non-economic damages. They can add up to a significant amount of any settlement or jury verdict.

How To Establish Negligence for the Accident

Building a strong case for a FELA railroad settlement or verdict requires establishing the other party’s negligence. Under FELA, you must prove the following:

  • Your injury occurred while on the job.
  • The negligence of your employer caused your injury.

Pictures of physical injuries, physical evidence, video footage, medical records, and testimony from medical professionals can help establish the physical results of the train accident. 

To prove the injury resulted from negligence by your employer, you need to connect their actions—or lack thereof—to your case. For instance, it is insufficient to demonstrate that the employer exposed employees to unsafe working conditions, such as defective or poorly maintained machinery. You must also prove that those unsafe working conditions were the direct cause of your injury. 

Any personal responsibility on your part may also impact your settlement, reducing the amount of compensation you receive. The other side will likely attempt to find ways that you were partly to blame for the accident. 

How an Experienced FELA Attorney Can Help You

If you or your loved one was harmed in a railroad workplace incident, you don’t have to go it alone. An experienced FELA attorney can fight for your rights to financial recovery and help you pursue the best FELA railroad settlement possible. The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers will skillfully negotiate with your employer and insurance companies while ensuring you get the justice you deserve. 

Our personal injury lawyers get results that speak for themselves. In our experience with railroad cases, we’ve won our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars, including a $303,000 jury verdict against Norfolk Southern Railway

We achieve these results through the experience and skill of our attorneys. John Cooper was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. He has spent his 30-plus-year law career helping Virginians win hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in personal injury cases. John is a member of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, making him a trusted authority on railroad worker injury settlements. Coastal Virginia Magazine has also listed him as a Top Lawyer, and he holds a VA Super Lawyer designation. In addition, he has been awarded the AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. 

Our attorneys have significant experience with FELA cases, and we want to share our knowledge with clients. That’s why we offer the following resources:

  • Our free e-book, “Your Rights When You Are Injured on the Railroad,” was written by our own attorneys. This book explains everything you need to know about FELA and your rights to sue for lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages in railroad worker injury cases.
  • A full resources guide for railroad workers covers key topics on protecting yourself, including workplace hazards to look out for and your rights as an employee. 

When you work with Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, you’ll be prepared to win the best settlement possible for your case. 

Contact a Skilled FELA Attorney Today

At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we have the experience you need to achieve a successful FELA railroad settlement or verdict. We offer free consultations to review your case’s details and discuss how we can help you seek justice. We work on a contingency basis, so there is no fee for our services unless you win.

Contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers today to get started on your railroad accident case.

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