Railroad And Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
- If I’m injured on the job, what should I do?
- Do I have a case?
- Who can bring a claim for compensation?
- What limitations are there to filing a claim?
- How prominent a cause of personal injuries are car accidents?
- Does it matter what state I live in?
- Why can’t railroad workers file claims under workers’ comp?
- Why does the claims agent keep calling me?
- Do railroads hire surveillance teams to videotape injured workers?
- Can the railroad fire me for hiring a lawyer?
- What’s different about the FELA?
- What happens when the injury results in death?
- Is there a statute of limitations?
- What is medical malpractice exactly?
- Is every death under a doctor’s care a case of malpractice?
- I lost my father because a cardiac device malfunctioned. What are our options?
- Do product liability laws vary from state to state?
Who can bring a claim for compensation?
If a person has suffered an injury or death due to the negligence of another person or corporation, that person or that person’s survivors may have a claim for compensation. The most common types of personal injury and wrongful death claims include motor vehicle collisions, workplace injuries, medical negligence and product liability.
If death results, then the decedent’s survivors may have wrongful death claims.
In all of these situations, the law allows the injured person or his or her survivors to bring a legal claim to recover for the losses that were caused by the negligence of another person or corporation. Generally, the law typically allows for recovery for economic losses such as lost wages as well as medical expenses and general damages for pain and suffering. In appropriate circumstances, there may be claims for punitive damages.
What limitations are there to filing a claim?
Each type of case has specific legal requirements that must be met to recover, and all injury and wrongful death claims have time limitations – known as “statutes of limitations” – that require a lawsuit to be started within a specific time period or the lawsuit will be dismissed without any recovery. If you or a family member has been injured or if you have lost a family member due to the negligence of another person or corporation, an experienced personal injury attorney should be consulted without delay. Knowing your rights is the key to protecting your rights.
How prominent a cause of personal injuries are car accidents?
National statistics show that a motor vehicle collision occurs every few seconds. Each year millions of people are injured on our nation’s highways. If a person is injured because of another driver’s negligence, the injured person may have a claim. Negligence in this setting usually involves failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to obey traffic lights, stop signs, or other traffic signals, failing to keep a vehicle under control, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, and other negligent conduct. If a person is injured or killed due to the negligence of another driver, that person or his or her survivors have the right to bring a claim for damages.
Does it matter what state I live in?
Generally, automobile collision injuries and deaths are governed by the laws of the state in which the collision occurs. But determining which state’s laws govern can become complicated when the collision involves drivers and passengers who reside in one or more other states. In some instances, the law governing an automobile collision may even be controlled by “choice of law” provisions in insurance policies.
Determining which state’s law governs a particular motor vehicle collision is critically important, because the law regarding the type and amount of damages varies from state to state. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit arising out of a motor vehicle collision causing injuries and deaths also varies from state to state; some states require that a lawsuit arising out of a motor vehicle collision must be filed within a year of the collision. Other states allow longer periods of time, some up to as long as six years. Failure to start a lawsuit within the appropriate limitations period that applies to the collision will result in dismissal of the lawsuit without recovery of any compensation.
Why can’t railroad workers file claims under workers’ comp?
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is the sole method for an injured railroad employee to recover compensation for all injuries, losses and damages caused by any negligence of the railroad corporation; railroad employees are not covered under state workers’ compensation laws, which provide compensation to injured workers in other industries.
If you have been injured on the job during your employment with an interstate railroad or if you have a railroad-related illness or condition, you may have rights under FELA.
Why does the claims agent keep calling me?
Claims agents are not on your side. Their objective is to settle your case quickly and cheaply. If they can get you to divulge information that makes that easier, they will do it. The claims agent has these ulterior motives:
- To act friendly and win your trust
- To make tempting offers of wage continuations or advances, which will make litigation less likely
- To direct you to railroad-approved doctors or facilities that will strengthen the railroad’s case, not yours
Do railroads hire surveillance teams to videotape injured workers?
They often do, even in cases where the injured worker is cooperating in every way with the company. Private investigators have been known to stake out workers at their homes, taking footage to prove they are not really injured. If you have been hurt, only do those chores that your doctor has approved for you. If you think someone is spying on you, file a report with the police.
Can the railroad fire me for hiring a lawyer?
No. It is unlawful, and the railroads have learned not to do this. In fact, you are more likely to be abused if you do not have a union-approved lawyer fighting for you. There are protections in FELA against companies retaliating against whistleblowers, but retaliation usually occurs in situations where the person complaining is not represented.
What’s different about the FELA?
FELA is a unique federal law, and all interstate railroad employees across the country are covered under it. The FELA is a negligence-based law, which requires the railroad to provide safe equipment, tools, work practices and sufficient manpower for its employees to perform their work safely.
This means that if the railroad was negligent – in other words, the railroad failed to provide a safe workplace, provide properly maintained tools or equipment, provide safe work practices, and/or failed to provide a safe number of workers – and you are injured, you may have a case for compensation under the FELA.
But to recover compensation, an employee must show that the railroad’s negligence was a cause, at least in part, of the injury.
What happens when the injury results in death?
The survivors of a railroad employee who is killed on the job or dies as the result of railroad work-related injuries or diseases may also have a wrongful death claim under the FELA. Just as in FELA injury cases, survivors must show that the railroad’s negligence was a cause, at least in part, to recover compensation.
The FELA allows an injured employee to recover all losses caused by the negligence of the railroad, including all lost wages and loss of future earning capacity, all past and future medical expenses, and money damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. In the case of death, the FELA allows the railroad employee’s estate to recover these damages. On-the-job injuries may be caused by a specific event or be the result of cumulative trauma, exposure over time or other occupational illnesses. The FELA allows for a jury trial, and the jury determines the amount of the award for full and fair damages.
Is there a statute of limitations?
The FELA has a three-year statute of limitations. This means that an injured employee or the estate of a railroad employee killed on the job must start a lawsuit within three years of the injury or death, or else the lawsuit will be dismissed without any recovery of compensation. In some cases, it is fairly easy to determine when the three-year period begins. For example, if the employee suffers a one-time trauma on a specific date, this will usually start the three-year period.
In other situations, however, such as gradual hearing loss, cumulative trauma injuries, whole body vibration injuries or slowly developing illnesses such as cancer, brain damage, lung disease or asbestos-related illnesses that can be caused by long-term on-the-job exposure to harmful chemicals or substances, determining when the three-year period begins is much more complicated. In these types of cases, the three-year statute of limitations begins from the time the symptoms of the injury or illness first became known to the employee and when the employee knew or should have known the injury or illness was caused by the employee’s railroad job.
If you or a family member has suffered a railroad-related injury or illness, or if you have lost a family member while he or she was working for a railroad or who died as the result of a railroad-related exposure, you may have a right to recover damages under the FELA. The FELA is a highly specialized area of the law, and you should consult an attorney experienced in FELA law without delay. Knowing your rights is the key to protecting them.
Bremseth Law Firm has successfully represented many individuals in a wide variety of railroad injury and wrongful death cases under the FELA.
What is medical malpractice exactly?
National statistics show that some 72,000 people die every year from medical mistakes in hospitals and clinics. Even more are injured every year from medical mistakes in hospitals and clinics. Most of these deaths and injuries would not occur if professional medical standards and procedures had been followed.
Like other types of the law governing personal injury and death cases, the law requires hospitals, clinics, doctors and other health care providers to meet certain standards of professional medical care. If a person is injured or dies because a hospital, clinic, doctor or other health care provider failed to follow the appropriate professional medical standard and/or procedure, such a person, or that person’s survivors, may have claims for medical malpractice based on negligence.
Medical malpractice (negligence) claims are governed by the state in which the injury or death occurred. While all states generally allow recovery of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, some states have caps that limit the amount of some types of damages. Some states allow punitive damages without limit; other states regulate the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded.
Is every death under a doctor’s care a case of malpractice?
Not every injury or death that occurs in a medical setting is caused by negligence. In recognition of that fact, most states require expert medical testimony to prove that the failure to follow professional medical standards or procedures caused an injury or death.
Because medical negligence lawsuits are governed by the state in which the injury or death occurred, the statute of limitations that applies to a particular case varies from state to state. Some states have a statute of limitations that ranges from as short as one year to as long as four years. You must start a medical malpractice lawsuit within the applicable limitations period or it will be dismissed without any recovery of compensation.
Medical negligence cases are often very technical and can be very challenging to prove. If you or a family member has been injured or a member of your family has died because a hospital, clinic, doctor or other health care provider negligently failed to follow the appropriate professional medical standards or procedures, you should consult with an experienced attorney in medical negligence law without delay. Knowing your rights is the key to protecting them.
I lost my father because a cardiac device malfunctioned. What are our options?
Corporations that manufacture drugs, medical devices, motor vehicles and even household appliances are expected to design and manufacture products that are not defective or unreasonably dangerous. If a person is injured or killed by a product, and such an injury or death was caused by a corporation’s failure to adhere to the appropriate design or production for a particular product, that corporation may be held responsible for the resulting injury or death. This is known as product liability law.
These types of cases can be brought on the basis of one or more legal theories: negligence, breach of warranty or strict liability. Defective products can be caused by a design defect, a manufacturing defect or other causes. These cases often involve consumer protection issues. Users and consumers of products generally expect those products to be free from hidden dangers and safe to use. When injuries occur due to product defects, manufacturers can be held accountable for the consequences and injuries.
Do product liability laws vary from state to state?
Generally, claims for product liability injuries or deaths are governed by the law of the state in which the injury or death occurred, but there are exceptions. Some state laws look to the law of the state where the product was designed and/or produced. Still other products may be governed by federal law. All states have statutes of limitations that require that a product liability lawsuit start within a certain period of time, or the lawsuit will be dismissed without any compensation. The length of these limitation periods varies greatly from state to state.
If you or a family member has been injured by an unsafe product or if you have lost a family member due to an unsafe product, you should consult an attorney who is experienced in product liability law without delay. Knowing your rights is the key to protecting them.