FELA Injuries: Issues of Negligence, Statute of Limitations, and Damages

FELA Injuries: Issues of Negligence, Statute of Limitations, and DamagesSilverman, McDonald & Friedman has served injured clients throughout Delaware for several decades. We are dedicated to helping you secure your rightful workers’ compensation benefits if you have sustained an injury at on the job. Contact us at one of our offices in Newcastle, Wilmington, or Seaford for a free consultation.

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was enacted in 1908 to protect railroad workers who are injured on the job. At the time, railroads implemented few measures to ensure the safety of their workers. Severe and catastrophic injuries sometimes resulting in death or amputations were a common occurrence. Railroad employees placed themselves at risk every day on the job due to the lack of safety protocols and the abundance of other hazards related to car shops, roundhouses, railcar components, and other associated equipment and tools.

Proving negligence

FELA was implemented to address the issue of the multitude of accidents and injuries occurring in the railroad industry and provide important safety measures for railroad employees. The basic benefit provided by the Act is that an employee is entitled to collect on a claim if the injury suffered on-the-job was due to negligence on the part of the railroad – even to the slightest degree.

Under the law, employers are required to provide a reasonably safe environment for their employees to work. An injured railroad worker must prove the railroad is liable for the injury he or she has sustained on the job. The employee must provide sufficient evidence that the employer failed to provide a sufficiently safe work environment.

FELA statute of limitations

The standard statute of limitations for FELA injuries is three years, starting with the date of the accident. However, injuries suffered by today’s railroad employees can occur due to long-term exposures rather than because of one particular incident. For instance, diseases such as leukemia and cancer are sometimes discovered a number of years after an employee was exposed to particular toxins in the railroad work environment, including welding fumes, silica sand, solvents, creosote, asbestosis, and diesel exhaust.

With these types of injuries which have no definite origination date, the statute of limitations generally begins when the disease, illness or injury is diagnosed. In some cases, the three-year statute of limitations may be delayed or “tolled” if the worker was unaware that his or her illness was linked to particular workplace exposures.

Available damages in FELA cases

Workers who sustain railroad injuries on the job may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. When juries issue an award for damages, they take into account various arguments and factors, including how much fault should be assigned to the railroad, the employee or potentially other causes of the injury or disease.

Each FELA claim is unique, making it vital to use the services of an experienced FELA trial attorney and not simply a local personal injury attorney without the proper depth of experience in railroad injury matters.

If you are a railroad employee who has suffered an injury at work, The Delaware FELA attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman are here to help you secure all of the compensation to which you may be entitled. Call us today at 302-888-2900 or use our contact form to request a free consultation. If you are unable to meet us at one of our offices in Newcastle, Seaford, or Wilmington, we can arrange a meeting at your home.