If you’re a railroad worker who’s been injured on the job, you can file a workers’ compensation claim that is unique to the railroad industry, through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). But before you file, here are some things you should know that may make a big difference in the eventual outcome of your case.
Make Sure You See Your Own Doctor
However you were injured — whether in a catastrophic accident, as a result of long-term wear-and-tear, or toxic chemical exposure — make sure you are examined by your own doctor. The railroad or their insurance company may insist that you see their own doctor. Even if you do, you should still get a second opinion from your physician.
The reason is simple. If your company recommends a certain doctor, it may be because that doctor is biased on their behalf, or possibly they tend to evaluate certain injuries in a way that would hurt your case. Before filing a claim, make sure that you have a medical record from a doctor you can trust.
Keep Every Document
You never know what piece of evidence will end up being important in cases like these. Your best bet is to hold on to every document related to your time working on the railroad as well as any paperwork regarding your injury. This includes your doctor certification exam; the doctor will often not keep a record of this, so make sure that you do.
You Don’t Need To Hire A Local Attorney
FELA claims are a federal matter, which means that when it comes to choosing a lawyer, you aren’t restricted by geography. For example, if you live in Florida and your injury took place in Georgia, you could choose an attorney from Kentucky if you prefer them.
In fact, in FELA cases, hiring a local attorney may not be to your benefit. FELA is a highly complex area of law that can be very favorable to the injured worker if you hire a lawyer who knows the law well. Lawyers who haven’t handled FELA cases before may fail to maximize their client’s compensation. In your search for an attorney, look for the best option, not necessarily the local option.
Get Started Right Away
There is a blanket three-year statute of limitations for FELA cases, meaning that you should be able to file a claim up to three years after the time of your injury. But it's not always so simple. FELA cases can get complicated, and sometimes interact with other areas of law that have much quicker deadlines.
That’s why your best option is to call a lawyer right away; you may have less time than you think. If you move quickly, you can avoid complications that might compromise your claim and prevent you from getting full compensation.
Know What You May Be Entitled To
Step one to a successful resolution in your case is knowing the full range of compensation you may be eligible for. That’s because FELA claims differ from standard workers’ compensation claims — not just in the process, but also in the amount and type of compensation that’s potentially available.
Unlike standard workers’ compensation, railroad workers filing a FELA claim may be entitled to 100% of their lost wages (workers’ compensation is usually capped at 80%). And also unlike standard workers’ compensation claims, FELA claims can also pay damages for pain and suffering.
If you file a claim, make sure your attorney is fighting for the full range of possible compensation.
Hire The Right Firm
There’s a lot at stake when you file a FELA claim. If it goes well, you could potentially receive compensation that both allows you to get the best treatment and secure your family’s financial future. You want the best people on your side, fighting to make that happen.
Morgan & Morgan is the largest injury law firm in the nation, and we have the resources it takes to fight and win against major corporations and insurance companies. We’ve recovered more than $15 billion for our clients to date, and we’d like to fight for you too.
With us, the consultation is always free and you never pay anything upfront. In fact, you won’t pay anything at all unless we successfully secure compensation on your behalf. So call today.