Key Points for New Railroad Employees

If you are a new employee of a railroad, you know that you have entered a world of work that is different from most others. As a railroader, you are subject to call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You are a member of a union movement that led the way for modern unionism. And you work with mammoth, sometimes very dangerous, moving equipment.

Another way your life is different from that of other workers in this country is in the handling of on-the-job injuries. Most workers are covered by State and Federal Worker’s Compensation laws. Limited benefits, set by statute, are all that are generally available to people working in stores, factories, and offices.

But as a railroad employee, you have a much stronger law in your favor – the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. This law, passed by Congress in 1908, allows you to make a claim directly with your company and to file suit in State or Federal Court to get a jury trial to determine liability and damages for any injuries you might suffer. Your award is based on your past and future damages – lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability – not simply a schedule of low weekly, often short-term payments.

Because the FELA is so dramatically different in many respects, there are several things you should be aware of if you do get hurt on the job:

1. Report the accident to your supervisor immediately and fill out a Personal Injury Report. Because the FELA requires a finding of fault on the part of the railroad, it is especially important to list anything that contributed in any way to the accident such as unsafe working conditions or unsafe cars and equipment. Remember, what you fill out may very well be used in court in connection with your claim.

2. Be sure to tell your co-workers that you have been hurt and how the incident occurred.

3. As soon as you can, see your own doctor, do not rely solely on the company physician. Be sure to let the doctor know of every injury and symptom you have, no matter how minor it might seem. Tell your doctor if you have recovered from any prior injuries, especially those that affect the same part of your body as the current problem.

4. Keep track of any lost wages and out of pocket expenses due to your injury. It is a good idea to keep copies of all documents, including the Personal Injury Report and medical records, together in a file folder or large envelope.

5. As soon as you can, contact your local union representative and a knowledgeable FELA attorney for additional advice. By contacting us at Yaeger & Jungbauer Barristers, PLC, you not only get skilled FELA advice, but we will provide initial free legal advice on how to handle your claim.

The FELA lawyers of Yaeger & Jungbauer Barristers, PLC invite you to contact their office for further discussion of this topic. This article is designed for general information only and should be considered neither formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer client relationship.