Railroad Worker Accident Lawyer
Norfolk Southern, CSX, Amtrak and short line railroads employ a large number of people throughout Virginia. Railroad employees injured on the job are usually not eligible for workers’ compensation. They are, however, protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The veteran attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers understand FELA’s special set of laws and know how they pertain to your case. Attorney John Cooper has national credentials in FELA law that few lawyers can match, so when you hire our Virginia railroad accident lawyer, you have a strong team backing you.
What are my Rights if I am Injured on the Job?
If a worker can prove that their employer, the railroad, was at least partially negligent in causing the injury, a FELA claim can be made. In limited circumstances, negligence strict liability applies. The law is a remedial statute favoring compensation because railroad work is so dangerous.
How FELA Affects Railroad Workers
FELA allows railroad workers to collect compensation for any injury sustained while at work that was, at least in part, the fault of the railroad. Your rights as a railroad employee to a safe workplace include the right to use equipment in good working order. Your safety is guaranteed by two acts:
- The Safety Appliance Act (SAA) — Malfunctions with cars or couplers are often an automatic liability issue for the railroad company.
- Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) — Defects with the locomotive itself are often an automatic liability issue for the railroad company.
Unfortunately, railroad companies often discourage employees from filing a claim under FELA, or they look for reasons to limit or deny your compensation if you file a claim. This leaves many injured railroad workers without the financial help they need to cope with lost income. The railroad company’s claims agents do everything they can to keep injured workers from hiring attorneys.
If you are permanently disabled as part of your FELA case, our Virginia railroad accident attorney could help you with your claims without charge for occupational or total disability from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
How does FELA Differ from Workers’ Compensation?
Unlike workers’ compensation, FELA is only available to employees of rail companies. One main difference is that FELA damages include pain and suffering. FELA does not have the limitations that workers’ comp places on the maximum amount of benefits you may be eligible for. This federal law allows you to recover for past and future lost wages, medical expenses, disability, and mental anguish.
Injuries Railroad Workers May Suffer
If railroads do not adhere to rigorous safety standards, any kind of railroad employee can suffer personal injuries. Railroads employ a great many people, all of whom are subject to injury and illness because of rail company negligence. These include:
Some railroad injuries happen suddenly in a single railroad accident, but many injuries and conditions are cumulative, happening slowly over a long period through repeated actions or exposure to dangerous substances. No matter what kind of illness or injury you’ve suffered working for a railroad, our local attorneys can help you get the compensation you need.
Repetitive Stress Injuries and Lung Cancer from Railroad Work Exposure
Rough-riding trains and physically stressful tasks can cause repetitive stress injuries to railroad workers over months or years of service. Strain on the neck, back, shoulders, knees, hips, and other parts of the body often affect a rail worker’s health permanently.
Sometimes a railroad worker will require surgery in his early 50s for his body being worn out by his cumulative trauma in his rail career. Patients may also require total hip replacement or spinal fusion surgery due to repetitive stress injuries. If your railroad career has been cut short by the railroads overworking you, you may have a claim.
Similarly, repeated exposure to environmental toxins causes serious railroad worker illnesses such as cancer and lung disease. Rail workers are at high risk of developing mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers. They may also develop cancers caused by exposure to diesel fumes and silica dust.
What if I Develop a Physical Injury Cumulatively from my Railroad Work?
Rough-riding trains and physically stressful tasks can cause repetitive motion injuries to railroad workers over years of service. Cumulative orthopedic trauma can require surgery and prevent returning to your railroad job, which usually requires lifting 50 – 100 lbs. Harm to the neck, back, shoulders, knees, hips, and other parts of the body often affect a rail worker’s health permanently. If your railroad career has been cut short by the railroads’ failure to provide a safe place to work, you may have a claim.
Deadline to File a Claim
If you’ve become injured or sick from your rail job, it’s important to file your claim quickly, as soon as you begin to notice symptoms. FELA has set limitations on the amount of time you have to file a claim. If you wait too long, you provide your employer with an opportunity to make it seem as if your injury was sustained outside of work. Taking swift action will help ensure you are provided with the compensation you need to make as full a recovery as possible.
Retain a Virginia Railroad Worker Accident Attorney
If you are a railroad worker who has suffered an injury on the job, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers or contact us online today for a free case evaluation. Our experienced Virginia railroad worker accident lawyers could get admission in any state to handle your case.