Railroad Worker Injury Lawyer (FELA): Chicago, Illinois
Railroad workers have a higher risk of injury than people in most other occupations. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2017 there were thirteen work-related deaths per 100 full-time rail employees.
Considering that the railroad industry is relatively small, employing around 200,000 workers nationwide, the risk of injury is statistically very high. Railroad workers are covered under the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA), which outlines their rights and obligations after a serious injury at work.
Railroad workers in Chicago, Illinois are employed by companies such as Union Pacific Railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and the Metra commuter transit system.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are proud to represent injured railroad workers from across the state of Illinois.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an Illinois railroad mishap, contact our experienced Chicago, IL railroad worker injury attorneys now for a free review of your case.
As with all of our serious injury cases, our law office handles FELA claims on a contingency fee basis where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful in obtaining a financial recovery for you.
Legal Protection for Injured Railroad Workers Under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a law enacted by Congress to compensate and provide recovery for rail workers injured on the job in Illinois and other states.
Passed in 1908, the United States Government created FELA as a way to more fully compensate rail workers for their injuries than did benefits received through regular workers' compensation.
Because of the high incidence of injury and death that occurred in the occupation, the government determined that a separate entity should be created to compensate workers injured in railroad accidents.
Key Differences Between FELA and Workers Compensation Law
It was decided that the burden of bearing this risk should be passed on to the railroad companies through FELA. FELA differs from standard Illinois workers' compensation law in several ways.
Unlike workers' compensation where fault for a workplace injury is irrelevant, an injured railroad employee must prove at least partial fault on the part of their employer to make a successful FELA claim, which is a tort-based system.
For a railroad worker, this provides an advantage over a state law negligence action, in which the defendant must be shown to be more than 50 percent to blame for the plaintiff to recover at all.
Moreover, damages in a FELA case are often higher in value than under workers' compensation and can include damages such as, lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering as determined by a jury. Under the workers compensation laws of the state of Illinois, railroad worker would be limited in their financial recovery based upon the statutory limits on compensation under workers comp.
Because of the unique requirements that apply to railroad injury cases, it is important for an injured worker to have the representation of a skilled railroad accident attorney.
Since negligence must be proven, retaining a FELA lawyer who fully understands the legalities involved in railroad worker injury and damages cases can make a significant difference in the amount of compensation you receive from a jury.
Frequent Causes of Railroad Worker Injuries
Many mishaps that injure railroad employees do not happen in train accidents or derailments, but instead, involve duties that are performed during the average workday. Train crash accidents account for a small percentage of railroad worker injuries, although they may be more severe.
Some of the most common causes of railroad worker injury are:
- Falls: Most injuries happen when a worker is walking and trips, falls, or stumbles over some type of obstacle.
- Hearing damage from experiencing elevated noise levels over long periods of time.
- Collision: Trauma sustained from driving or riding in other motor vehicles, such as trucks or forklifts.
- Overexertion injuries resulting from heavy lifting, lining switches, and applying the hand-brakes.
Common Types of Illinois Railroad Worker AccidentsEvery year, thousands of railroad employees are involved in workplace mishaps. These accidents take a physical, financial, and emotional toll on them. The state of Illinois is one of the most frequent places for railroad injuries.
These incidents take place on the railroad tracks, out in the yards, or even on the train. Here are some of the most common types of railroad negligence cases filed under FELA law:
- Overexertion: Overexertion accidents for injured railroad employees were put in tough situations like when they have to lift too much or lean too far to reach something. The unfortunate circumstances are put on them by the railroad employee and not a sign of employee failure.
- Equipment: Railroad equipment and tools are complex and dangerous. Even with proper training and supervision, an incident can arise, but workers do not always get those advantages. Linking tools, hammers, and other equipment cause numerous mishaps for railroad staff.
- Trains: Trains, cars, and other vehicles trigger many accidents for rail workers. Employees are frequently crushed, sideswiped, run over, or otherwise injured on the job.
- Noise/Fumes: Railroad companies do not do a good job containing dangerous fumes and noises. These failures cause permanent damage to workers' lungs, ears, and other parts of their bodies.
Railroad Worker Injury Law FAQs
In the section that follows, we answer some questions that people commonly ask about railroad employee injuries and mishaps.
We appreciate that you may have additional questions and we welcome you to call one of our experienced FELA lawyers for a free consultation.
How Much Is My Illinois FELA Claim Worth?
The value of a railroad worker injury case is dependent on numerous factors. One of our FELA lawyers working on your behalf can help determine the severity and nature of your injuries and whether they are temporary or permanent.
The circumstances of your medical condition will help determine if you can return to work in your current position, another occupation, or not at all.
However, the value of Illinois FELA claims is composed of economic and non-economic damages you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Examples of recoverable compensation in most FELA claims include:
- Medical expenses for past and future medical care. This includes hospital bills, surgical expenses, physical therapy and prescription costs
- Lost wages for past and future wage loss that you have incurred as a result of your injuries. If your injuries prevent you from returning to your position, you can make a wage loss claim for the remainder of your working life.
- Pain and suffering you have endured as a result of you accident.
- Mental anguish or emotional trauma
In the case of a fatal accident, the family of the deceased railroad worker can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for their loss of emotional and economic support from their loved ones employer.
While many FELA claims are settled outside of court, if the parties cannot come to an agreement, the case will ultimately be decided by a jury in the court where the lawsuit was filed.
How Long Do Illinois Railroad Workers Have to Bring FELA Claims?
Per section fifty-six of the Federal Employers' Liability Act (45 U.S. Code Section 56), you have three years from the date of the accident to bring a case for injuries that arose during the course of employment as a railroad employee.
If you do not reasonably discover your injuries, that time can be extended. Here is the language from the actual law: "No action shall be maintained under this chapter unless commenced within three years from the day the cause of action accrued."
What if a Chicago Railroad Worker is Partially Responsible for an Accident?
An worker injured in a railroad mishap can bring a FELA claim if they were partially responsible for their accident. The Federal Employers' Liability Act (45 U.S.C.A.) applies pure comparative fault to FELA cases where the worker's own percentage of negligence is applied to the value of their claim. (See CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride, 564 U.S. 685)
The doctrine of pure comparative fault used in FELA cases is different from the traditional doctrine of comparative fault used in most Illinois personal injury cases. Under pure comparative fault, a railroad worker who is partially responsible for an accident can still pursue a FELA claim.
For example, if a rail worker has a claim that is worth $1,000,000 and they are deemed to be 20% responsible for the incident, they would be entitled to recover $800,000.
How Do You Prove a Railroad's Negligence is Responsible for a FELA Accident?
Under FELA law, the injured railroad worker has the burden of demonstrating that the railroad's negligence was responsible for your injury. Expert witnesses can be instructive in establishing how an employer's negligence resulted in an unsafe working condition.
Many FELA claims allege employer / company negligence such as the failure to:
- Provide a safe working environment with sufficient equipment, tools and safety measures;
- Enforce rules and regulations related to job safety;
- Provide adequate training for employees to safety perform their jobs;
- Provide assistance for workers to perform their jobs ;
- Keep the work environment free from hazards and other dangers.
An experienced FELA attorney can assist you with establishing negligence on the part of your employer.
What are the Most Common FELA Injuries?
Trust the Illinois FELA Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for Railroad Worker Accident Lawsuits
Each railroad accident lawyer from our law firm is experienced in handling railroad worker injury legal issues throughout the state.
If you or a family member has been injured while working for a railroad and experienced pain and suffering, we invite you to discuss your options for compensation with a qualified personal injury attorney.
Our law office is proud to be recognized by rail workers as a trusted law firm committed to the rights of injured workers.
Call our FELA lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation when you're injured through someone else's negligence. We've recovered millions of dollars in compensation and damages in FELA settlements and look forward to doing the same for you.
Please do not send sensitive information to our law office through voicemail, email, or text message. Let our law firm talk to you about your case through a confidential attorney-client relationship
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Resources for Chicago, IL, Railroad Industry and Worker Injury Victims
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- One Year Accident/Incident Overview
- Railroad Crossing
- Amtrak Employee
- Creosote Exposure
- FELA Accidents FAQs