Railroad Employee Injuries: What benefits are available?
Railroad employees face dangerous and risky situations because of their employment. Equipment malfunctions, poor communication, exposure to dangerous chemicals, defective equipment, poor weather conditions, inadequate safety measures, and carelessness by other individuals can result in a fatal or serious railroad accident. Because railroad workers face many on-the-job hazards, Congress enacted the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to help protect railroad employees and provide compensation when employees are injured on the job. What Benefits Can an Injured Railroad Employee Receive Under FELA? FELA is not workers’ compensation insurance, but many of the benefits a railroad worker may receive under FELA are similar to the compensation other injured workers may receive after a workplace accident. Actually, railroad workers may receive more compensation under FELA after an on-the-job injury than they would receive if state workers’ compensation systems covered railroad employees. However, to receive benefits under FELA, a railroad employee must prove that the railroad was negligent in causing the employee’s injury. That is the key difference between workers’ compensation (no-fault system) and FELA (fault-based system). If the employee does not prove fault or negligence by the railroad, the employee does not receive any benefits for an injury under FELA. Also, if the employee was partially at fault for the cause of the injury, the employee’s compensation can be reduced under the theory of comparative negligence. Examples of damages an individual may receive for a railroad work-related injury include:
- Payment of medical expenses
- Reimbursement for loss of income
- Compensation for loss of benefits
- Payment for physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Compensation for emotional distress, physical pain, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Compensation for permanent impairments and disabilities
- Payment for ongoing and future loss of income and medical expenses
- Compensation for disfigurement and scarring
- Report the Incident and Injury Immediately — Contact your supervisor to complete an injury report. If your injuries require emergency medical attention, report the injury as soon as possible after receiving medical attention.
- Seek Medical Attention — In most cases, an employer ensures that the injured railroad worker receives immediate medical attention. However, you also need to follow up with your primary care physician and/or specialists as required to complete your treatment plan. In some cases, you may need to seek an independent medical evaluation if you continue to experience symptoms after the accident.
- Report the Incident to your Union Representative — Make sure that your Union representative is aware of the incident and the injuries you sustained because of the accident.
- Document Losses and Damages — Keep copies of all bills, invoices, and receipts for financial expenses and losses related to the injury. If you miss time from work, carefully document all missed work so that you can receive compensation for your lost wages. Taking pictures of your injuries throughout your recovery and making notes about your daily pain levels can also be very useful when it is time to settle your FELA claim.
- Do Not Provide a Recorded or Written Statement — If you have a claim against the railroad, it is best to speak with an experienced FELA attorney before providing any statements regarding the incident or your injuries.