Godwin Hurley Donoghue, LLP

Railroad injuries and the FELA process

If you are injured on the job, chances are you have a lot of frustration and struggle ahead. Not only will you be dealing with your own recovery from your injuries, but you will likely be facing the complex process involved in a Federal Employers Liability Act claim.

In most industries, a workplace accident results in claims to a workers' compensation insurer. However, to hold the railroad industry to stricter standards of safety, the law allows injured employees to file lawsuits against their employers following an accident that resulted from safety violations or negligence. If you are in that situation now, you may have many questions about the FELA process and the outcome you can expect.

The FELA process

Obviously, your first step after a workplace accident is to seek medical attention. If your accident was serious, you may have had no choice, and your employer may have called emergency responders to the scene. No matter the situation, you will then have to make a report to your employer detailing the accident, but it is also wise for your own benefit to write down every detail you can remember. The subsequent FELA claim process will generally follow these steps:

  • The railroad and your attorney will each conduct individual investigations into the accident.
  • You will have to prove that your injuries resulted from safety violations or negligence on the part of your employer or the railroad company.
  • You and your attorney will attempt to reach a fair settlement with the railroad company or your employer.
  • If the other party does not offer an amount that truly compensates for your injuries, you have the option of pursuing the matter in civil court by filing a complaint.
  • You and the other party will enter the discovery phase by exchanging all the information you have about the accident and your injuries.
  • The case will go through pretrial motions, during which, you will decide which facts you can both agree to.
  • At this point, if your case continues to trial, each side will present its arguments to a judge or jury who will render a decision.
  • If you disagree with the decision, you may have grounds to appeal.

Sometimes, the discovery phase reveals information to one side that will prompt a second try at a settlement. You may also decide to take the matter to mediation or arbitration rather than going to court. No matter which path your case takes, you will want a skilled New York attorney who has extensive experience in FELA cases and who will zealously fight for your cause whether through negotiations or in a court room.

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