Filing a FELA claim in Texas is not an easy task. But if you have been injured on the job, it’s worth your time to learn everything about how the process works and what you can expect along the way.
Our Houston railroad injury attorneys at Roven Camp have decades of experience helping injured clients make this process as easy as possible.
In this article, we’ll outline how FELA claims work – from filing to settlement. We’ll also cover some of the common misconceptions and legal traps that people fall into when they’re trying to file a claim, which will help make sure that your case goes smoothly from start to finish.
What is a FELA claim and who is eligible to file one?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a law that provides injured railroad workers with compensation for their injuries.
The Act was passed by Congress in 1908 as a way to ensure railroad workers are guaranteed a safe workplace.
In order to be eligible to file a FELA claim, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be an employee of a company engaged in interstate commerce
- Your injury must have occurred while you were performing your job duties
- Your injury must have been caused by your employer’s negligence (this includes actions by other employees, coworkers, agents and contractors of the employer)
If you meet all of these criteria, you can file a claim for benefits under FELA. This determination is usually fact specific and an experienced FELA lawyer can help you determine whether the facts of your case will allow you to pursue a claim.
Filing a FELA claim for a railroad injury in Texas
In Texas, or any other state, in order to file a claim under the FELA, you will need to follow a few simple steps.
- First, you will need to gather some basic information about the accident, including the date, time, and location of the incident.
- You will also need to provide the names and contact information for any witnesses.
- If possible, you should also take pictures of the scene of the accident and any injuries you sustained. A fellow employee or your local union representative may be able to help you obtain and preserve this evidence.
- Next, you will want to consider contacting an attorney with experience in FELA cases. Your lawyer will help you gather the necessary documentation and submit your claim.
What you can expect during the FELA claims process in Texas
It has been our experience that most railroads are no longer interested in making fair and reasonable offers to injured employees without the filing of a lawsuit. However, with respect to the pre-suit claims process, once you and your railroad injury attorney work together to file your FELA claim, you can expect the following things to happen:
- Your employer will be notified of the claim and the legal obligation to preserve evidence.
- You may be asked to provide documentation of your injury.
- In most cases, the railroad will have performed an investigation into the nature and cause of your injury, including taking statements from witnesses and performing a reenactment of the incident.
- You may be given a copy of the investigative report or a copy of your report of personal injury.If you are not provided a copy of these items, your local union representative can help obtain a copy for you.
- A representative from the claims department will likely contact you to request a recorded statement (if you are not represented by counsel). You are not required to provide this recorded statement and in almost every case you should not provide one, especially if you have not discussed your incident with a knowledgeable FELA attorney.
What to do if your Texas FELA claim is denied
If your FELA pre-suit claim is denied, your railroad injury attorney can work with you to
file a lawsuit in either state or federal court. A lawsuit for an FELA claim must be filed within three years of the date of your injury (or within three years from the time that you knew or should have known that your injury was caused by your FELA employer).
Once a suit is filed, the litigation process will begin. The first several months will involve the discovery process, where your attorney and the attorneys hired by the defendant exchange written discovery questions. You will most likely be required to give a deposition to the defendant’s attorneys and your attorney will take the deposition(s) of coworkers, witnesses, corporate representatives and treating doctors. The parties will be required to disclose, and in most cases depose, experts that are retained by the parties. You also may be required to submit to a medical examination by a doctor chosen by the railroad company or other defendant(s). In most states, it will take several months (generally 18 months at a minimum) and in some cases several years to get your case to trial, if it is unable to be settled for a fair value.
No matter what happens in your FELA claim process, your Texas railroad injury attorney will be there to help you make the best decisions for your case.
Contact a Houston railroad injury attorney today
Although the railroad industry in Texas has made some progressions over the years, the railroad industry remains a dangerous place to work. If you have been hurt working on the railroad, you may want experienced legal counsel to guide you through the process and help you get full and fair compensation for your injury.
Our team of attorneys at Roven Camp are trusted, respected, and experienced attorneys when it comes to FELA claims. Contact us today to get the compensation you deserve.