Baltimore FELA Claim Attorney
The attorneys of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy draw on their rich experience litigating cases and recovering damages to help railroad employees recover under FELA. Our lawyers work to present the strongest possible case in court – and to secure the highest possible compensation for victims covered by FELA.
If you think you have a claim under FELA in Baltimore or another city in Maryland, please give us a call. We would be happy to discuss it with you.
Compensation Available for Your Injuries
The compensation available from FELA claims is more extensive than workers’ compensation claims. Workers’ compensation usually only covers medical expenses, lost income, and compensation from any sustained disability. FELA claims cover past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, and permanent partial or full disability.
Compensation from FELA claims also covers any demotion in earning ability that your personal injury caused. If the injury that the employee sustained was fatal, the employee’s family can also recover damages from the death.
In an effort to fight the claim, the defendant is likely to argue comparative negligence. Comparative negligence occurs when the court minimizes the damages according to how much each party was at fault for the injury. Railroad companies will often try to prove that the employee was more at fault than the company.
After all of the arguments and statements are heard, the jury will assign a certain percentage of blame to each party. That assignment will directly affect the compensation amount. For example, if the jury finds you 25% responsible for your injury, the total amount of your damages would be reduced by 25%.
Maryland Railroads and Railroad Companies
The state of Maryland has many different railroads. Research conducted in 2015 showed that there was approximately 937 freight railroad miles throughout Maryland. Some of the most common freight railroads operating in Maryland are as follows:
- Bay Coast Railroad
- Canadian Pacific Railway
- Canton Railroad
- CSX Transportation
- Delmarva Central Railroad
- Georges Creek Railway
- Maryland and Delaware Railroad
- Maryland Midland Railway
- Norfolk Southern Railway
- Tradepoint Rail
- Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway
- Winchester and Western Railroad
Maryland freight trains receive and send a variety of goods, including intermodal, waste and scrap, glass and stone, coal, nonmetallic materials, and many more. Along with freight trains, Maryland is also home to multiple passenger trains. Some of these passenger carriers are:
- Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
- Walkersville Southern Railroad
- Washington Metro
Common Railroad Worker Injuries
Railroad workers can suffer a wide variety of injuries on the railroad. It is a dangerous and risky environment that can cause both fatal and non-fatal accidents.
- Disfigurement – Though it will not cause death, disfigurement injuries can leave a lasting imprint. Disfigurement injuries commonly cause scars, discoloration, amputation, and bone breaks and fractures that do not completely heal. Compensation from disfigurement injuries can include plastic surgery and extensive recovery time.
- Burn Injuries – Some of the most painful injuries that a railroad worker can suffer are second- and third-degree burns. They can require skin grafts or amputation in the most severe cases. Explosions, hose ruptures, engine fires, and electrical burns commonly cause railroad burns.
- Fractures/Broken Bones – Fractures and bone breaks are usually caused by a worker slipping and falling or walking on a ballast. Heavy lifting and repetitive motion can also be the cause of eventual fractures and bone breaks.
- Head Injuries – Head injuries can be extremely severe. On a railroad, a worker can suffer skull damage or brain injury whether he is wearing the correct protective headgear or not. Frequent causes of head injuries are falling tools or freight and slips and falls. Head injuries can leave facial scars, broken teeth, and other types of disfigurement. Concussions can also occur from head injuries. Compensation for head injuries often covers expensive surgeries and long-term medical treatment.
- Traumatic Brain Injury – Head injuries can sometimes be severe enough to cause traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries often lead to the victim having serious cognitive difficulties and can have effects that last for a lifetime, dramatically changing and degrading their quality of life.
- Cancer – Some railroad workers have been diagnosed with cancer due to many dangerous substances they handle like creosote and benzene.
- Back and Neck Injuries – Back and neck injuries can lead to chronic pain or debility that may keep you from working on the railroad again. They can require expensive treatments and therapy for long periods of time.
- Loss of Limbs – Losing a limb working on the railroad can change your life in many ways. It can seriously debilitate your daily life and force you out of your job on the railroad.
Proving Liability in a FELA Case
FELA claims require you to prove to the court that the railroad company’s negligence caused your injury. Railroad companies are required to make the environment a reasonably safe place for someone to work, so showing that they did not fulfill that requirement is important in a FELA case. Railroad companies also have a duty to provide adequate training, protect workers from others, ensure that safety rules are being followed, and prevent the use of unreasonable work quotas.
The requirement for proving liability in a FELA case, however, is less extensive than some other personal injury cases. A victim only needs to show that the company’s negligence played some part in his or her injury, as opposed to needing to show that the company was the sole cause of the injury.
FELA Claims Process
There are many steps that you must take to file a FELA claim. Contact an experienced FELA attorney so he or she can ensure that your claim will be processed correctly in the initial stages. Both the railroad company and your personal attorney will investigate the accident and then discuss a settlement.
If your attorney and the railroad company are unable to settle the claim, your attorney will file a civil action for you. The company has a few weeks to respond to the claim, stating how much they believe they were at fault and if they agree with the claims you and your attorney are making. Both parties exchange relevant documentation and begin building a case.
Before heading to trial, most FELA cases will go through mediation to see if the parties can solve the issue without going to court. If your attorney and the railroad company are unable to settle in mediation, your case will go to trial. Each side will present an argument and a judge or jury will make the final decision. You have the option to appeal if you disagree with the verdict.
What Is the Federal Rail Safety Act?
The Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) prevents railroad companies from firing, demoting, or suspending an employee who was injured because of the railroad company’s breach of duty or wrongdoing. Many situations could be deemed the employer’s fault. A few examples are situations where:
- An employee suffers an injury investigating a law that the company is breaking
- An employee refuses to help break a law
- An employee files a complaint against the company
The employee protection also extends to dangerous conditions that the company has failed to fix. The railroad company cannot punish an employee if they report a hazard, refuse to work in a hazardous situation, or refuse to authorize someone to use a tool or vehicle if they believe that it is dangerous.
The only instances when a railroad company would not need to adhere to FRSA are as follows:
- The refusal to work is not made in good faith
- There is an alternative to refusing to work
- Another person reasonably concludes that the situation is not hazardous
- The railroad employee did not report their intention to refuse working
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury as a railroad worker in Baltimore or throughout Maryland and you believe you are entitled to pursue a FELA claim, contact Murphy, Falcon & Murphy and we will give you experienced guidance and representation in pursuing your FELA case.