Railroad Accidents and FELA Claims
Railways played a critical role in building the United States and are still used extensively today. Many people are surprised to learn just how many jobs this industry provides to Americans throughout the country. Working at a rail station or on railways, however, can be dangerous work that may lead to a wide range of injuries. To provide protections for railway workers, Congress enacted the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) in 1908. Today, the statute provides coverage to employees working for railroad companies that are not already covered under the state workers’ compensation system. Columbia railroad accident attorney Matt Uhrig knows what it takes to navigate the FELA system, and he can assist you in bringing a claim for compensation. A dedicated injury lawyer may be critical in asserting your rights.Bringing a FELA Claim to Pursue Compensation
If you have been hurt in an accident while working for a rail company, the first thing you should do is request prompt medical attention and preserve any information that may be used as evidence to support a claim. Common examples include police reports, medical records, receipts, names and contact information of witnesses, or photographs.
Next, you can consider whether to file a claim under FELA. To be covered by this federal law, the victim must work for a railroad company that is engaged in interstate commerce. If the employer is not engaged in interstate commerce, the worker may still be able to pursue action against the employer on a personal injury theory under Missouri law.
If you file a claim, your employer’s insurance carrier will likely open an investigation into the accident and the injuries that you have suffered. In some instances, the employer may offer you a settlement. Although some settlement offers are adequate, the insurance carrier does not always have the employee’s best interests in mind. If there is no settlement offer, or if the parties reject settlement offers, the matter will typically proceed to arbitration or trial. Arbitration is an out-of-court proceeding without a jury that has the same force and effect as a trial. There is no jury, and an arbitrator acts as the final decision maker.
Whether the matter proceeds to trial or arbitration, the central issue likely will be whether the employee suffered injuries due to the employer’s negligence. Unlike the workers’ compensation system, FELA requires the claimant to show that the defendant acted negligently. Under FELA’s negligence standard, employers have a duty to provide their employees with a reasonably safe work environment. This encompasses any activity by a railroad manager, supervisor, or fellow employee, and it covers a wide range of railway areas, like the tracks, stores, equipment, and other property. Common examples of railway negligence include failing to provide warnings at intersections, failing to enforce rules and regulations, failing to provide adequate training and supervision, and operating trains above the federal speed limits.Explore Your Options with a Columbia Attorney after a Railroad Accident
People who have been injured while working for a rail company may be entitled to compensation. Columbia railroad accident lawyer Matt Uhrig knows what it takes to navigate the complex and often daunting FELA system. As an experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney, he can help you gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and bring a case to trial if needed. We proudly serve injured employees throughout Missouri, including in Ashland and Jefferson City. Call us at (573) 657-2050 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.