If you work in a railyard, the chances are good that you sometimes perform your duties in an open, above-grade workspace such as stairs, platforms, scaffolding, or elevated tracks. These areas, plus locations near pits or steep drop-offs, put you at risk of falling from a height. When that occurs, you should speak with a trustworthy railroad injury attorney. Falls can produce severe injuries that might prevent you from working for a substantial period or even end your career entirely. If you experienced such a misfortune, a Pennsylvania railroad worker fall from heights lawyer could help you pursue your employer for appropriate compensation.
FELA Claims vs. Workers’ Comp
Railroad workers injured on the job rely on the Federal Employee Liability Act (FELA), 45 United States Code § 51, for compensation. FELA offers railroad workers several important benefits compared to employees in other industries, who must use the workers’ compensation system. To take full advantage of those differences, an injured railroad employee who fell from a height should work with a Pennsylvania attorney experienced in FELA cases.
The workers’ compensation program pays for an employee’s injury-related medical care and a partial wage while they are out of work. In return for those benefits, the employee must give up their right to sue an employer for negligence. In contrast, a railroad worker must prove their employer’s negligence had a role in their injury and are entitled to reimbursement of all their injury-related losses.
Railroad workers must file a lawsuit under FELA within three years of their injury. FELA claims are heard in state or federal courts, and all of the usual rules of evidence apply. In contrast, injured employees in other industries must file their claims within a year of their injury, and any hearings take place before a board or an administrative law judge. The rules in these administrative proceedings might not protect the interests of the workers as thoroughly as the courts do.
Common Injuries in Falls from a Height
The greater the height from which an individual falls, the more severe the injuries will be. However, the individual’s overall health, the way they land, and other factors also contribute to the severity of the injuries a fall might cause.
Many of the injuries that railroad workers might sustain in a fall require emergency medical care like hospitalization, surgical intervention, and extensive rehabilitation to regain functioning. Severe injuries associated with falls include:
- Bone fractures in the extremities
- Broken pelvis or hip
- Rib fractures, trauma to the lungs and diaphragm, and other abdominal injuries
- Head injuries, including concussion and traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Of these, damage to the spinal cord and pelvis are most strongly associated with falling from a height of more than six feet. Such significant damage to the body could prevent an individual from returning to work for a substantial period. A Pennsylvania railroad fall from heights attorney could help an injured worker assess their losses and prepare a demand for damages.
Damages After a Railroad Fall
When a railroad worker proves that their employer’s negligence had a role in their injury, they could claim all of their losses. These include their lost wages and any future reduction in income they are likely to suffer. Damages could cover all costs of medical treatment for the injury and related conditions, as well as the cost of treatment in the future.
Railroad workers are also entitled to seek damages for their physical pain, emotional anguish, disfigurement, disability, and other related factors that diminish their quality of life. A fall from heights railroad injury lawyer in Pennsylvania could present medical records, direct testimony, and video evidence demonstrating how an injury affects an individual’s day-to-day existence.
42 Pennsylvania Statutes § 7102, prevents individuals from collecting damages if they are more than 50 percent responsible for the incident. However, FELA allows a railroad worker to collect damages if their employer’s negligence contributed to the accident to any degree.
Rely on a Pennsylvania Railroad Worker Fall from Heights Attorney for Guidance
Injuries from a high fall could require months or years, of recovery. Some severe injuries might never heal. The financial burden of such an extended recovery time could be enormous. Take advantage of the benefits FELA offers by contacting a Pennsylvania railroad worker fall from heights lawyer to secure the compensation you have earned.