Railroad laborers traditionally were responsible for essential maintenance in and around railroad yards, including cleaning, carrying ties, digging and spraying weeds. In completing their duties, these laborers often suffer exposure to toxins that eventually result in chronic illnesses, some of which are fatal. When this situation occurs, consulting a railroad laborer injury lawyer may be highly beneficial. If you have developed injuries or illnesses as a result of working as railroad laborers, you may have a valid claim for relief under federal law. As these claims can be complicated and require a substantial amount of evidence to support them, getting legal advice can be instrumental to a positive outcome for your claim. As a result, contacting an experienced railroad injury lawyer may be advantageous.
What is a FELA Claim?
Injuries and illnesses that railroad laborers suffer on the job fall outside the state worker’s compensation system. Instead, workers must file these injury claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act or FELA, 45 U.S.C. § 51. The requirements for obtaining compensation under FELA, however, are far more stringent than under the state worker’s compensation program.
To claim benefits under FELA, injured railroad laborers must show that the railroad owner or operator was negligent in some way. They also must prove that the employer’s negligence led to the injuries or illnesses at issue. An injury lawyer for railroad laborers may be able to help injury victims build a strong claim for compensation against their employers.
Railroad Laborers and Chemical Exposure
By working in and around locomotives and railroad yards, railroad laborers may suffer exposure to various chemicals. Many of these chemicals can be toxic and cause long-term injuries to these workers. Some of the most common chemicals that they may encounter while working include the following:
- Silica dust from dumping granite and limestone ballast to build up the railbed, from digging and moving ballast, and from nearby machine operators working with ballast
- Roundup, a standard herbicide spray used to treat unwanted weeds
- Diesel exhaust from passing locomotives, diesel-operated machines, the process of fixing pull-aparts, and heating fixtures in railroad camp cars
- Asbestos from insulation in railroad camp cars, fire shields behind stoves in camp cars, and asbestos rope
Additionally, railroad laborers often carry railroad ties, which are treated with creosote, another toxic substance. Exposure to any of these chemicals, especially over lengthy periods, can result in various cancers and other severe medical conditions.
For example, exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, as well as other cancers. Another potential consequence of asbestos exposure is asbestosis, a chronic lung disease. Workers who are suffering from any of these diseases may want to speak with an injury attorney for railroad laborers about their options for legal recourse.
What Type of Damages Could Railroad Laborers in FELA Claims Recover?
Railroad laborers who qualify for compensation under FELA may be entitled to various forms of damages. These damages include all reasonable and necessary expenses related to medical care and treatment, such as diagnostic tests, medications, surgery, and rehabilitation. Other potentially compensable items may include loss of income and earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional and physical scarring.
Damages under FELA also may include temporary or permanent limitations on activities and potential shortening of life span. In the worst cases, punitive damages may be available. A railroad laborer injury lawyer may be able to help ensure that injury victims receive the full amount of compensation for which they are eligible.
Talk to a Railroad Laborer Injury Attorney for Advice
The injuries and illnesses that can result from service as railroad laborers can be devastating. You may be struggling to live with a chronic disease and experiencing financial stress due to an inability to work. In this situation, a railroad laborer injury lawyer might be able to file a claim for damages under FELA.
By allowing legal counsel to take on some of your burdens, you may be able to focus your attention on your physical and emotional health. You also may put yourself in a stronger position to obtain the compensation for your injuries that you need. Call today to get started on your claim.