Filing a FELA Lawsuit
While standard workers’ compensation prevents most other types of workers from suing their employers for workplace injuries, railroad employees in Virginia and all across the United States can file suit directly against their employer under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). The injured railroad worker normally must be able to prove negligence or safety rule violations by their employer to recover compensation.
Depending on the nature of your injury or illness and the working conditions that led up to it, demonstrating that careless behavior by the railroad employer hurt you can be an immensely complicated prospect. Streamlining the process of filing a FELA claim or lawsuit and increasing your odds of success usually requires knowledgeable and experienced legal representation. Our seasoned FELA attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyer could provide this support and guidance.
What Documentation Is Needed for a FELA Lawsuit?
One reason to hire a railroad work injury lawyer is the collection of evidence and documentation. Documentation plays a key role in the settlement negotiations and potentially legal proceedings to come. Medical records will be collected by your FELA lawyer detailing the initial diagnosis from a medical professional, what treatment was sought since that diagnosis, and how the condition stemmed from work. It can also be helpful for a claimant to take photographs of his injury at various stages of recovery and keep a copy of any accident report he filed with his employer. In many cases, a railroad accident attorney could assist with getting witness statements from other workers or third parties who saw the accident occur or who know about the same hazardous conditions that led to a worker’s injuries.
Steps in FELA Litigation in Virginia
Once we have enough information to make a strong claim, the first step toward resolving a FELA case generally does not involve the court system at all. Rather than immediately proceeding to litigation, an injured railroad worker’s attorney and the client may choose to send a demand letter to the employer explaining the circumstances and naming specific damages for which they are seeking compensation. Railroad companies that receive comprehensive demand letters are sometimes willing to negotiate a fair settlement allowing everyone to avoid court and resolve the matter efficiently. It is important to note that any injured worker should retain an experienced FELA attorney before beginning the negotiation process. Anything you say to the railroad’s claims department will be used against you.
If the railroad employer is unwilling to agree on a fair presuit settlement, an injured and her legal counsel may choose to proceed with filing a FELA lawsuit. This entails filing a complaint in civil court, giving the defendant a few weeks to file a response, trading information during a discovery period, and setting a date for a jury trial.
Talk to a Virginia Attorney About Filing a FELA Lawsuit
At any point prior to the court entering a verdict, the parties involved in a FELA lawsuit can reopen settlement negotiations and come to an agreement. While qualified legal representation could help identify and pursue the best course of action for a given situation, the choice of whether to settle or wait for a verdict ultimately rest with you as the claimant.
No matter what path you choose, a knowledgeable railroad accident attorney from our firm is available to help you understand your options. Call today to discuss filing a FELA lawsuit based on your unique circumstances.