Some work industries present more significant dangers for workers than others. The railroad industry can be one of the more dangerous sectors in which to work. If you or a loved one has experienced on-the-job injuries or illnesses while working for a railroad, you may need the advice of a railroad engineer injury lawyer. Fortunately, federal law provides compensation to injured railroad workers in some circumstances. Railroad injury and illness claims differ markedly from other types of injury claims. As a result, getting competent legal advice may be crucial to your ability to recover compensation. A seasoned railroad injury attorney may be able to investigate the circumstances that led to your injuries and determine the validity of any legal claims that you may have.
What Is The Federal Employers’ Liability Act?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act or FELA, 45 U.S.C. § 51, offers some level of protection for railroad workers who are injured on the job. While FELA does not provide compensation for all injured railroad workers, it can provide coverage in specific instances of negligence by railroad companies. Only workers who can prove that their employer was negligent in failing to maintain a safe work environment can recover under FELA.
FELA can cover various instances of employer negligence, such as the failure of the employer to:
- Properly train and supervise employees concerning safety procedures
- Maintain a reasonably safe working environment
- Observe required safety standards
When railroad companies fail to make their operations safe for their workers, they may be liable for any injuries that result. These claims are separate from any sick time benefits or disability claims that injury victims may have.
Other grounds for liability in railroad injury cases may exist in the Safety Appliance Act, 49 U.S.C. § 20301, and the Locomotive Inspection Act, 49 U.S.C. § 20701. An injury lawyer for railroad engineers may be able to assess individual situations and determine whether FELA or any other federal statute applies to a specific situation.
Common Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses Affecting Railroad Engineers
Railroad engineers may suffer injuries and develop illnesses related to their work in the railroad industry. FELA may provide compensation when railroad engineers develop these problems.
Some of the most common medical conditions that railroad engineers may develop from their work are from exposure to asbestos and diesel exhaust. Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, and other cancers in the lungs and larynx. Exposure to diesel exhaust also may lead to various cancers. Engineers may suffer exposure to asbestos from:
- Resting their feet on an asbestos-wrapped pipe leading into the heater inside the cab of the locomotive, causing the asbestos to become airborne
- Exposure to deteriorating asbestos insulation in railroad buildings in which they reported for their shifts, used the bathroom or stayed overnight when away from home
- Exposure to asbestos from the lines running through the engine compartment
How Dangerous is Diesel Exhaust to Railroad Employees?
Exposure to diesel exhaust is another common cause of medical conditions that railroad engineers may experience after working in the railroad industry. Leaks in the exhaust system may have allowed diesel exhaust to leak into the cab of the locomotive. Railroad engineers also might suffer exposure to diesel exhaust through non-airtight seals around doors and windows and from being around idling locomotives in the rail yard.
The FELA Process
Filing a claim for compensation under FELA is different than filing regular personal injury claims. First, an injury attorney for railroad engineers will need to gather evidence in support of the claim, which may include medical documentation of injuries and witness testimony. Legal counsel also may enlist the services of expert witnesses to fully explain why specific injuries fall under the purview of FELA.
Mediation may be a prerequisite to going to trial on a FELA claim. During mediation, the parties attempt to reach a settlement of the matter with the help of a neutral third-party mediator. If mediation is unsuccessful, however, then the case may proceed to trial.
Ask a Railroad Engineer Injury Attorney for Advice
Whether railroad engineers sustain injuries in a collision or develop medical problems over time from unsafe conditions, they may be able to seek compensation. A railroad engineer injury lawyer may be able to help facilitate the claims process and represent your interests if you have been injured.
Working in the railroad industry can be a dangerous endeavor, and the establishment of FELA recognizes the risks that railroad workers take every day. When tragedy strikes and workers are injured, legal counsel may be able to help. Call today to schedule a consultation.