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FELA Frequently Asked Questions

What is the F.E.L.A?

The Federal Employers' Liability Act is a remedial, humanitarian Act designed to put on the railroad industry some of the costs of the legs, arms, eyes and lives which it consumed in its operation. "Wilkerson v. McCarthy", 336 U.S. 53, 68, 69 S. Ct. 413 (1949) (Justice Douglas).

How is the F.E.L.A. different than Worker's Compensation?

To recover under the F.E.L.A., a railroad worker must show that the railroad was at fault and negligent, even in the slightest.

Should I seek advice from a lawyer?

When you are injured, your interests and the railroad's are opposed to each other. A railroad worker's goal is to collect full and fair compensation for all damages that you are entitled to you under the F.E.L.A. The railroad claim agent's job is to save the railroad company money, reduce its liability and pay the railroad worker as little as possible.

Railroads have lawyers and claim agents on their payroll to protect their interest. The railroad has its attorneys and claims agents collecting evidence against the railroad worker from the moment an injury occurs. For example, railroad's often insist on taking a statement from the injured railroad worker shortly after medical treatment and while the railroad worker is taking medication. You should also be consulting an F.E.L.A. attorney to protect your interests and those of your family.

Why do I specifically need an F.E.L.A. Attorney?

Most attorneys have little or no knowledge of the F.E.L.A. or railroad work. F.E.L.A attorneys such as Rome, Arata and Baxley, know the F.E.L.A. and are well-versed on the types of dangerous conditions railroad workers face on a day to day basis. We also deal daily with the medical issues, insurance issues, and disability issues that are involved in railroad injury claims. In helping railroad workers, an F.E.L.A. attorney will help the injured person get pictures of the injury scene and all involved equipment - before big changes are made. An FELA attorney will ensure witnesses names are recorded and take statements while memories are still fresh. An F.E.L.A. attorney will make sure the worker and his crew members save all work orders, track bulletins, consists, switch lists, track warrants, etc.

What should I keep in mind while dealing with the railroad's claim agent?

They may seem friendly, but the job of a railroad claim agent is to save the railroad money by reducing the value of your claim. Do not give them a statement without first consulting your local chairman or an F.E.L.A. law firm such as Rome, Arata and Baxley. Beware of promises made by railroad claims agents. Even if the railroad claims agent intends to keep them, a claim agent's job is not assured and they cannot guarantee how long they will be working for the railroad.

What should I do if there is an investigation by the railroad?

Make sure that you consult with an F.E.L.A. attorney to insure that you, your witnesses and union representative do not say or do anything that could be used against you later in your personal injury claim. The railroad's purpose in conducting the investigation is to discipline you and get you to say something that will lessen or reduce the railroad's responsibility for the injury. Also, make sure to contact your union representative as soon as you have received notice of the investigation.

"The largest FELA claims are won when an F.E.L.A. case is fully prepared to go to trial. Only then, will the railroad feel the most pressure to pay full and fair compensation for the injury."

Will I have to go to court?

Almost always, the largest F.E.L.A. claims are won when a case is fully prepared to go to trial. You should keep good records, obtain a good experienced F.E.L.A. lawyer and be ready to go to trial to prove the cause of your injury. F.E.L.A. cases should be prepared for trial to insure the best chance of a fair settlement. For example, proof of disability needs to be collected, proof of future medical expenses needs to be collected, etc.

What to do in case of injury:
  • Note what the railroad and/or any other parties did wrong to cause the injury.
  • Immediately report your accident to your supervisor and fill out an injury report.
  • List and report all unsafe working conditions, defective tools and/or equipment that played any part in causing your accident.
  • Use the phrase "etc..." to cover anything that the railroad might claim you should have added.
  • Do not volunteer information that is not requested on the report and do not admit any responsibility for an accident you did not cause.
  • Note the names and phone numbers of all co-workers and other witnesses.
  • Get photographs of the accident scene before it is changed and/or corrected by the railroad.
  • Seek medical attention from a doctor of your own choosing for your injuries.
  • Always be truthful and consistent regarding any past medical problems.
  • Be wary of the claim agent.
  • Following the initial accident report, do not give a statement unless instructed to do so by your lawyer. Any statements could be used against you later in your claim.

Rome, Arata & Baxley, L.L.C., has FELA law offices in New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas, and we will represent or have represented clients with railroad injury cases across the United States, including the cities of Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Boston, St. Louis, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Dallas, El Paso, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Austin, Texas, Beaumont, Texas, Orange, Texas, Port Arthur, Texas, Marshall, Texas, Lufkin, Texas, Galveston, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, Laredo, Texas, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana, Louisiana, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Shreveport, Louisiana, Alexandria, Louisiana, Jackson, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Birmingham, Washington D.C., Sacramento, Muskogee, Chickasha, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Wichita among others.

Tags: FELA FAQs, Railroad Injury FAQs, Train Accident FAQs, FELA Injury FAQs, Railroad Injury Frequently Asked Questions