What Railroaders Need to Know Before Filing a FELA Lawsuit?

Jul 08, 2022
By Peter Friedmann

For railroad workers that have suffered an injury on the job, the FELA claim process might seem overwhelming at first – especially if you and your attorney file a lawsuit related to your claim.

Under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), railroad workers are exempt from state workers’ compensation program, which typically prohibits an employee from filing a lawsuit against the company they work for if they suffer a workplace injury. In contrast, railroaders are afforded the right to bring a federal FELA lawsuit in Ohio against their employer if they choose to.

Below, we explore some key facts about what every railroad worker must know about FELA and the basic steps of a FELA lawsuit.

Note: The following is not legal advice. It is meant as a general educational information. Reach out to The Friedmann Firm, LLC to speak with an attorney for further assistance.

What Every Railroad Worker Must Know About FELA

FELA is a federal law that went into effect in 1908 in response to the increased expansion of the railroad industry that was occurring in the United States in the late 1800s. With railroad work being a dangerous industry, FELA was enacted to offer protection and compensation to railroad workers who were facing increased danger like loss of limbs and life, as the railroad industry can be inherently risky.

If an injury is suffered on the job, the worker will need to be able to prove that their employer was negligent, and that said negligence caused the injury as part of their claim.  Comparative negligence applies to FELA claims so even if you were partially negligent in causing the injury, you may still be able to recover damages from your employer.

For example, if an object falls and hits a railroad worker or if employer-provided equipment is faulty and malfunctions causing an injury, you may have grounds for a FELA claim.

Typically to prove negligence, evidence will be especially helpful like medical records, the severity of your injuries, and eyewitnesses. You need to be able to prove negligence on behalf of the employer, which can take many forms.  Failure to maintain equipment can constitute negligence.  Additionally, ignoring safety protocols can constitute negligence if ignoring safety protocols causes an injury.  Evidence can be provided to one of our attorneys, which will allow us to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your potential claim.

One other key factor to be aware of in relation to FELA is the different kind of damages you might receive. Damages for a FELA lawsuit in Ohio include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Full, partial, or permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income
  • Lost future income

If you have questions about FELA and filing a claim, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our Columbus FELA attorneys.

Basic Steps of a FELA Injury Lawsuit

The very first step of a FELA injury lawsuit will be the first initial report that you make to your employer following the incident that causes your injury. From there, the claims process will begin.

You will want to seek medical attention and begin looking for an experienced FELA attorney to work with, such as those here at The Friedmann Firm, as soon as possible. We can help you to gather evidence and take you through the claims process.

From there, if no settlement can be reached, we can move onto filing a FELA lawsuit.

The basic steps of a FELA injury lawsuit will include:

  1. You and your attorney will take the necessary steps to file a federal FELA lawsuit in Ohio.
  2. The discovery process will begin where both sides will have the chance to learn about all of the information available from both parties. This process will include looking at documents, medical records, witness accounts, and any related expert reports that are tied to the case and accident.
  3. Mediation may occur, where both parties get together to try to resolve the case with the assistance of a neutral, objective mediator.
  4. If settlement does not occur, a judge might render a ruling in your case and/or it could proceed to a jury trial.

The outcome of the lawsuit will be determined by a few different factors including:

  • The level of negligence from your employer
  • The severity and type of injury or injuries you suffered
  • Evidence presented like medical records, eyewitness statements, and other important documentation

FELA lawsuits in Ohio can be complex and a lengthy process, depending on the factors at play. Speaking with an attorney as soon as you are able can help get the process started in an efficient manner.

Still Have Questions? Schedule a Consultation with a Columbus FELA Attorney

If you are a railroad worker who is seeking help in filing a FELA lawsuit in Ohio, reach out to The Friedmann Firm today. Our team of attorneys is solely focused on employment law, including handling FELA claims and lawsuits for railroad workers throughout Ohio.

We are here to answer any questions you may have about the basic steps of a FELA injury lawsuit, the FELA claim process, and more.

Schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Columbus FELA attorneys today over the phone at 614-610-9755 or online.