Working on railroads presents an increased risk of getting on-job injuries. Due to the nature of the railroad work, injuries resulting from an accident in these areas could be fatal. It is important to know that the Federal Employers Liability Act will protect your interests after railroad accidents. However, it is wise to seek legal representation if you want to file a compensation claim. At The Workers Compensation Attorney Group, we help you understand the laws surrounding your Compensation Claim, including how to file a FELA Claim in Orange County, California.
An Overview of FELA Claims
Employees in different fields of work face risks of injury on their jobs every day. However, railroad workers face more significant risks as a result of the dangerous nature of their work. Common hazards for railroad workers include falling from moving vehicles, electrocution and getting struck by heavy objects during construction.
In response to this increased risk, the federal government passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The act was passed with the aim of protecting the rights of railroad workers from unsafe working conditions. Under FELA, employers of railroad workers
Have an obligation to ensure that the working conditions of their employees are safe. This is done by enforcing safety regulations in the workplace
Have the responsibility to inspect the working areas
Should offer proper training to all the employees on how to handle themselves and different machinery used for the job
They are obliged to give enough supervision of the job sites. This will ensure the employees are not breaking safety rules and all tasks are carried out correctly
If your employer does not adhere to these regulations and you get injured. As a result, you can file a FELA claim against them. A slight violation of these regulations is enough proof to support your compensation claim. A successful FELA claim will give you compensation for your medical treatment and pay you for the lost wages.
What Should I do After an Injury?
The Federal Employers Liability Act is aimed at protecting railroad workers who get injuries at their workplace. The events that occur immediately after a workplace injury are the most crucial when it comes to protecting your rights and getting compensation for those damages. If you or you are loved gets injured while working on the railroad, It is common to be stranded, not knowing what to do. Here are the precautions and steps you need to follow to ensure you get your rightful compensation under FELA.
Notify your Employer about the Injury
Under FELA, your employer owes you a duty to ensure you are working under safe conditions. If you get injured, it is crucial to notify them and claim compensation for the injuries. A delay in reporting the injuries to your employer can cause delays or even denial of the claims.
Getting injured on your job can bring you a wave of emotions and questions. You are not sure whether your claim will be accepted or where you will get money for treatment for the injuries. Due to these disturbing thoughts, it is common that you wait a while before reporting the incident. To get covered under the workers' compensation, you must report your injury within 30 days after you have been injured.
No matter how minor you think your injury is, if you get hurt at your railroad work station, you should report to your employer immediately. It is one of your responsibilities as an employee to notify your employer or immediate supervisor of the injuries. This will help facilitate medical care and serve as evidence in the process of compensation. If you wait to see if the injuries will get better, they may be more detrimental to your health. In addition, your claim for compensation may be rejected.
It’s crucial that you get as accurate as possible when giving information about the occurrence of your accident. The possible causes and contributing factors need to be clearly indicated. After reporting the incident, your employer is obliged to offer you treatment or advise you to seek an independent medical examination. If you are having a disagreement with your employer on seeking medical attention, it is always important to discuss the situation with a workers' compensation attorney.
Seek Medical Attention and Treatment
Immediately after you suffer an injury at your workplace, it is vital to seek medical attention. This will help avoid the worsening of your health situation. Getting checked by a doctor will also provide medical reports that will be significant evidence to prove that the cause of injury was work-related. In addition, you will get the rightful compensation you deserve for the injury you suffer.
In emergency situations, it is likely that your employer will facilitate the much needed medical treatment. However, once you receive the necessary immediate attention, you have the liberty to seek independent medical attention from a doctor of your choice. It is important that you open up and be honest with your doctor on the actual situation of your injuries. This will help them determine the effect of your injury on your daily life and advise on activities you can engage in safely.
Railroad accidents can be fatal. Thus, compensation will involve a significant amount of money. The insurance company of your employer will incur the cost of your injuries. Therefore, they are very vigilant when you decide to seek medical care outside of their network. The individual you will be suing for the compensation may be concerned that your physician might exaggerate the extent of your injuries. In the case where you opt to seek an independent medical examination, the doctor’s report is subject to reevaluation. Before spending large sums of money as compensation, the insurance company will ensure the injuries are as serious as you claim and the injuries were actually sustained at work.
Sometimes you may be compelled to seek an independent medical examination even when you don’t wish to do so. The workers' compensation laws may require you to visit your own doctor for examination. If your claim is questionable or it isn’t clear that the injuries are work-related, your employer may not give you their medical care. However, if the circumstances of the exam will force you to travel long distances from your residence, you may not be required to submit the report.
Also, the court may order you to take this independent examination when your mental health is in question. If you sue your employer for damages after your injuries are healed, you will not be ordered to seek an independent medical examination. However, individuals who file for a lawsuit independent of the compensation claims can get an order to undergo an independent medical examination. If you are ordered to take an IME after a railroad injury, you will have to submit to multiple examinations.
After taking the independent medical examination, you need to make sure that all documents and medical reports are safely kept. These documents will be used as evidence in your compensation claim. The individual who is seeking to compel for the exams can choose the physician to do it. If you cannot agree on a physician to do the examination, the court will appoint one for you. If you are injured in an accident at your workplace, it is wise to contact a workers' compensation attorney to help you protect your rights.
Begin the FELA Claim Process
When you file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act, it is common to be unsure of what to expect. The claim process is quite complicated, and the turn of events may be surprising. There are two parties in these cases, and the individual you are suing for benefits may try to sabotage you. If you get an injury working at the railroad, your employer will be motivated to pay you as little as possible in terms of compensation. They will try their best to minimize their liability to your injuries. It is important to have reliable legal counsel at your side during the claim. This will give you the confidence you need to get fair compensation for the injuries you suffer. The phases you will go through in file a FELA claim are;
Filing a Personal Injury Report
In addition to notifying your employer after the workplace injuries, you need to make a separate report for your own use. The report should entail all occurrences that led to the accident. You also need to describe the extent of your injuries and its effect on your daily activities. If someone else witnessed the accident, you should list their name and addresses. If they are willing, these individuals can testify in your favor at the FELA claim hearing.
If you suffer an accident while working at the railroads, it is crucial to take photographs of the occurrences. These pictures can also be used as evidence for your FELA compensation claim. Your workers' compensation attorney should be aware of all the details that you include in your injury. This will make it easy for them to represent your claim.
Getting Contacted by Claim Agents
After you make a report on your injuries, the railroad claims agents will contact you. You need to understand that these claim agents will be representing the interests of the railroad company. They are trained to interrogate you in such a way that may distort your case by finding a loophole to deny your claim. Your interest does not align with the interests of your employer. Therefore, you need to be careful when dealing with them.
To protect your legal interests, you should avoid giving statements on the incident to the FELA claim agents. These agents will want to settle the case as soon as possible and make you get less than you deserve. The claim agent may try to convince you not to seek legal representation. This is because their aim is to take advantage of your lack of information on your legal rights. Immediately after the injury, you should contact a workers' compensation attorney. In addition, you should let the agents deal directly with your attorney.
During the compensation case, the company officials you talk to may be used as witnesses against you. You should avoid admitting that the injury was an accident or you were at fault for the accident. If they capture such a statement from you, your compensation benefits could be delayed or denied altogether.
Investigation of your Claim
After your attorney has successfully filed the claim, the company you are suing for compensation will carry out their investigations. The railroad company has its own interests in mind; thus they will not just believe your word of mouth. Their investigation is aimed at finding out exactly how your injuries occurred. During the investigation, they will ask you to produce a written document. However, you should avoid giving any statements to the individual you are suing without advice from your attorney.
Your employer may hire some private investigators to gather evidence from you. This evidence may be used in their defense. It is always important to follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to physical activity. This will ensure your condition does not worsen. While the railroad company is doing their investigations on the accident, your attorney should also carry out an investigation. This should be done to find out who is at fault to determine the extent of your injuries.
Proving Employers Liability to your Injuries
Unlike the no-fault compensation claims where you don’t need to prove that your employer is liable for your accident if you bring on a FELA claim, you have to prove liability. To show liability for your injuries, you will be required to show that your employer breached their duty to ensure your safety. However, in such claims, the amount of negligence you need to show is less compared to other negligence cases. If you are bringing a FELA claim, you need to show that the defendant acted in negligence. No matter how small, your injuries must have been a result of that negligence.
The negligence behavior, also known as the burden of proof, will be a great advantage to you during the process of seeking compensation. Even when you are partly liable for the accident you suffered, you should not get discouraged to file for a FELA claim. However, when it comes to determining the amount of compensation, your share of the fault will be considered. If the court determines the amount you are entitled, you will only get an amount equal to the percentage of fault of your employer.
Not only does FELA provide a remedy for the injured railroad workers, but it also acts as a guideline for railroad employee safety standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspects the railroads regularly. Therefore, it is easy to prove liability in the case where you suffer an on-job injury. Issues involving liability are complicated thus getting help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is a great decision.
Settlement Negotiations with your Employer
Once the evidence on how the accident occurred is collected, the extent of your injuries will be known. After the extent of the injury is established, you will be required to present the initial demand on your claim to the railroad company. Your lawyer will negotiate the settlement back and forth until they reach an agreement on the amount to be paid as compensation. If the settlement is agreed upon, you will get the compensation. However, sometimes the amount they are willing to pay is not fair enough for you. Therefore, you don’t always have to accept what you are offered without negotiations.
A successful FELA claim will bring you compensation for lost wages. Depending on the amount of time you spend away from work, you will get paid for what you would be earning on those days. It is your responsibility to keep track of the lost wages as a result of the injuries. This includes the time missed on the day the incident occurred. The days you were following up with your medical appointments will also get compensated.
If you seek an independent medical examination, your employer will pay for these expenses. Sometimes an injury you suffer may result in a disability either permanent or temporary. These disabilities may render you incapable of competing in the job market. If this happens, your employer will compensate you for the inconvenience caused by that disability.
After you agree on compensation with your employer, you should follow up for vocational rehabilitation benefits. You are entitled to these benefits when the injury you suffered hinders you from going back to your previous employment. The aim of these benefits is to enable you to get training and empower you to find alternative employment. If you are left with a disability, you have the responsibility to follow up for your vocational rehabilitation benefits.
In California, you need to make a request for vocational rehabilitation. The workers' compensation law expects you to accept and cooperate with the people offering you the vocational rehabilitation. This is if you believe you are incapable of adequately functioning in your previous job. You can make the request anytime within fifteen years from the day you suffered the injury.
When the injury from the railroad accident leads to death, under FELA, your dependents will receive the compensation. If your spouse succumbs to death after these injuries, it is always important to ensure you are represented by a competent workers compensation attorney. If you refuse to cooperate with the vocational rehabilitation service providers, you risk suspension of your lost wages benefits. The workers' compensation will limit these benefits for all the period you are uncooperative. The amount of compensation you get in FELA claims will be determined by the extent of the injury you suffered. The effect these injuries have on your daily life will also get considered during compensation.
What Should I do if My Claim is not Settled?
During the negotiations, your attorney will try as much as possible to get you a fair settlement. However, negotiations may break down and leave you with no other option but to file a lawsuit against the railroad company. In preparation for the lawsuit, your lawyer needs to assess the case before taking the legal action. After the lawsuit is filed, the defendant will get served. They will have to answer within the given period. The defendant will indicate the amount of liability they are willing to take for your case. You will then exchange documents with the railroad company attorney in the discovery phase.
At this stage, the railroad company may consider bringing a better offer. The court may also ask you to try mediation or other out of court alternatives before proceeding to the case. If you are not able to make a pretrial agreement, the trial will begin. In FELA cases, you can decide to get the case heard by a jury. Attorneys from both sides will get a chance to present their witnesses and evidence on the case. The hearing can take more than a day depending on the amount of evidence to be presented. If you file a FELA lawsuit, the judge will determine the amount of compensation you get.
Navigate FELA Claims with Help from a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Near Me
Suffering an accident at a place of work is a common occurrence, primarily if you work in places where heavy machinery is used such as railroads. Filing a FELA claim gives an opportunity for railroad workers who are injured at work to be compensated for the damages. If not handled competently, a FELA claim may fail to yield positive results. Attorneys from The Workers Compensation Attorney Group can help you pursue your FELA claim. If you are planning to file for a workers' compensation claim in Long Beach, CA, you will need us in your corner. Contact one of our Long Beach workers compensation attorney today at 714-716-5933 and let us take control of your case to help you receive fair compensation benefits for your injuries.