The Federal Employers Liability Act protects railroad workers injured on the job. It does not, though, guarantee swift justice for you and your loved ones.

First you suffer an injury that puts you out of work for weeks, months or even the rest of your life. Then you may wait months or even years to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.

Beginning the FELA process

One of the first steps is reporting your injury to the company, which then stages its own inquiry. The investigation looks into who was at fault and the extent of your injuries. It is not difficult to guess whose side the railroad is on.

If you do not agree with the company report, you can file a grievance. The company usually has three weeks to respond, which can lead to a deposition process. This is where frustrating delays can begin. The procedure includes interviews, document production and sworn statements to a court officer. The time and cost add up while you are still out of work.

Continuing the FELA process

If you cannot reach an agreement, you head to court for litigation. Either a judge or jury will decide your case. Or a judge can instead order mediation between you and your employer. This is another chance for delay if it turns out to be a waste of time.

Your employer also can fight you at trial through motions to dismiss your claim and appeals. The company will present its own evidence and witnesses, further drawing out the case. The company may be hoping you will give up or accept a lesser settlement.

FELA gives injured workers the support they need to seek fair compensation. In practice, though, it is complex legislation that requires expertise to understand.

Taking advantage of the FELA process

The railroad industry has an unfortunate history of denying responsibility for injuries. In fact, this is why FELA exists.

As you battle your injuries, you also are fighting forces beyond your control. FELA can help even the odds.