FELA Railroad Accident Lawyers
Inherent dangers of the railroad industry place the workers in this field at great risk for personal injury or wrongful death. Similar to the dangers posed by the construction field, railroad workers endure some of the most hazardous conditions in the country. Due to the increasingly large number of workers sustaining injury in this line of work, Congress introduced the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) of 1907 in order to protect these workers. This piece of legislation holds the employers of railroad workers liable for any injuries that their working conditions may cause due to negligence.
Not all law offices are equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to handle these high profile cases; this is precisely why you will need the help of our expert FELA railroad accident lawyers. The top injury lawyers here at the law office of Wettermark Keith have over three decades of litigation experience fighting for the rights of injured railroad workers. We won’t back down until justice is found for those injured or killed in these tragic accidents.
YOUR RIGHTS AS A VICTIM
Under the Federal Employers Liability Act, railroad workers who sustain an injury on the job may be eligible for compensation beyond what a typical Workers’ Compensation claim may payout. The specific nature of the incident in question needs to be properly evaluated in order to determine if a victim has rights under FELA to have a claim. Our professional FELA railroad injury lawyers can help you with this aspect of your case. If your employer is found to be responsible for your injury, you or your family may be entitled to compensation for:
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Benefits
- Disability Pay
- Emotional Pain and Suffering
- Medical Expenses
- Funeral Costs
- Loss of Quality of Life
The compensation provided to injured workers by Workers’ Compensation is all too often not enough to meet the needs of a victim and their families. Contact our law office today to discuss the specifics of your case.
YOU HAVE RIGHTS – KEEP YOUR JOB AND GET WELL BY USING THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
Using the FMLA to Protect Your Job: The FMLA was passed by Congress to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.
Eligible employees are entitled to take unpaid leave for any of the following reasons:
- The birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
- Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- To take care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) with a serious health condition;
- To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
Many medical conditions qualify as “serious” under the FMLA. Some of these conditions are obvious, such as cancer, stroke, or diabetes. As a general rule, everyday illnesses such as the flu are not considered serious medical conditions under the FMLA. However, there is one important exception. That exception can be a railroad worker’s best friend.
Important exception: Under the FMLA, a condition, like the flu, that incapacitates you or your family member for more than three consecutive days and requires ongoing medical treatment(either multiple appointments with the health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication) is considered a “serious medical condition.” If you meet these criteria, you are eligible for FMLA leave.
For example: Let’s take a look at how this provision applies to a real-life scenario. Because of events beyond his control, a railroad conductor is on the verge of violating the railroad’s attendance policy. One more absence will put him over the top. And then, disaster strikes. He wakes up one morning sick as a dog. He is throwing up. He has a fever. There is no way he can work. Yet, if he simply calls and marks off sick, he is going to be in violation of the attendance policy. At the same time, however, if he plays his cards right, he can be eligible for FMLA leave.
When You Get Sick, Consider Following these Steps to Use the Exception
- Go see a doctor If a family doctor is unavailable, go to an Urgent Care Center.
- Make sure that the doctor prescribes a prescription medication.
- Make sure the doctor requires you to be off work for at least four consecutive days.
Finally, call the railroad and explained that you have a serious illness and that your doctor has ordered you to be off work for at least four consecutive days. Request FMLA leave. BOOM! You are protected. The railroad cannot assess discipline as a result of this absence from work. If it does, it will be in violation of the FMLA.
Ironically, the steps you need to take in this circumstance are counter-intuitive. Typically, in circumstances such as this, an employee would think the best thing to do would be to get back to work as soon as possible. This, of course, is not the right step. In order to make the flu a “serious medical condition,” you have to be off at least four consecutive days, see a doctor, and receive medical treatment (prescription medication does the trick).
One important warning: As with all things legal, oftentimes little things make a big difference. So, if you find yourself in a position where you think you need to take advantage of the provisions of the FMLA, call your legal counsel. We can provide you advice upfront that may save you a lot of headaches on the back end. Please consult the United States Department of Labor’s “Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act” handbook.
FEDERAL RAIL SAFETY ACT (FRSA) AND WHAT IT CAN DO FOR YOU
Railroad workers need to also know about the “whistleblower” provisions of the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) provide important protections for railroad workers against improper retaliation and discipline by their employer. Unfortunately, there is considerable confusion over when and how this law applies. We want to make an attempt to explain this law in simple terms.
The FRSA has designated certain actions of railroad workers as “protected activities.” If a railroad worker engages in these activities and is subjected to subsequent discipline, the FRSAcan protect him.
- If an employee provides information or assists in the investigation of any violation of federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, he is engaging in a protected activity. For example, if an employee talks with an FRA inspector about a hazardous track condition, that would fall within this category.
- If an employee refuses to violate or assist in the violation of any federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, he is engaging in a protected activity. For example, if an employee refuses to work in violation of the Hours of Service law he is protected.
- If an employee makes a good faith report of a hazardous safety or security condition or refuses to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition, then he is within the protected category. For example, if an employee reports a defective switch or refuses to operate a defective switch, the law applies.
- A report by an employee of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness is protected. For example, if you fill out a personal injury report you immediately fall within the law’s protection.
- If an employee is following the medical orders or treatment plan of his doctor for a work-related illness or injury, then he is engaging in activity protected under the FRSA. Importantly, this includes being off work under your doctor’s orders. It is unclear whether the same protection applies if you are following the treatment plan of a doctor for an off-duty injury or illness. There have been several conflicting rulings in this regard.
If you have engaged in one of these protected activities, and the railroad takes any adverse employment action against you, you are protected by the FRSA. The law makes it illegal for a railroad to “discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way discriminate against an employee” as a result of that employee engaging in a protected activity.
One of the most powerful features of the FRSA is that it places the burden on the railroad to prove that any adverse action was not related to the protected activity. At the risk of oversimplifying things, if a railroad worker can prove that he engaged in the protected activity and that the railroad subsequently took some adverse action against him, he has proved his case. The burden then shifts to the railroad to prove that they didn’t take the adverse job action because of the employee engaging in the protected activity, but for some completely different and independent reason. Another powerful feature of the FRSA is that the railroad is deemed to have violated the act if the adverse action was related “in whole or in part” to the protected activity.
There are small details that can make a huge difference between winning and losing an FRSA claim. I would advise anyone who thinks they may have an FRSA claim to contact our office as soon as possible.
SERVING JUSTICE – ONE CASE AT A TIME
Here at Wettermark Keith, our veteran FELA railroad accident lawyers have the skills needed to take on these large entities. Our top attorneys represent each and every client with the utmost respect, compassion, and employ the thorough legal expertise needed to make their case a success. We realize that this is likely a difficult situation for you and possibly your family and are here for you.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person in a railroad accident, contact our seasoned injury lawyers today. Together we can seek a financial compensation figure that meets your needs as a victim and can continue to provide for you, long after this ordeal is over.
NO RECOVERY, NO FEE GUARANTEE
When selecting clients to represent in court, our firm operates on a contingency fee basis. What this means to our clients is simple: if we don’t win your case, you won’t pay anything. We choose to operate this way for the sole benefit of our clients, we want to see you obtain a successful recovery so that you can continue to carry on with your life.
Contact us today if you have been the victim of a personal injury or lost a loved one to a wrongful death after a railroad accident. Fill out the free case evaluation form on our web site and we will get back to you promptly. Contact the location closest to you. We serve Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Dothan, and the rest of Alabama. We also have law offices in downtown Chattanooga, and the Florida Panhandle area.