- Passenger Injuries
- Your Rights Under the FELA and Important Information Regarding the FELA
- Who is at fault?
- What are the damages you may recover?
- Other Laws May Apply
- Why You Need an Attorney
- What to Do If You Are Injured at Work
- Injury Checklist – DO
- Injury Checklist – DON'T
- Injuries in Company Railroad Vehicles
- Cumulative Trauma Injuries
- Medical Care
- Ask yourself the following questions
- Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Protect Yourself – Know Your Rights
- Your Solution to Your Railroad Injury Case
Railroad Injury & FELA Expertise in the Northeastern U.S.
The Maurer Law Firm has extensive experience representing the victims of railroad accidents. For almost 30 years, Ira M. Maurer has been a nationally recognized leader in the field of railroad law for his notable history of winning tens of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. In 2008, Ira M. Maurer won an $8 million dollar settlement for a contractor employee severely injured as a result of a runaway crane while working in an Amtrak tunnel. Employing the finest accident reconstruction and simulation experts, civil engineer experts and ergonomic experts, we’ve got you covered.
Mr. Maurer has worked throughout his career winning claims against a variety of railroads such as Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad, PATH, New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, the New York City Transit Authority, Delaware and Hudson Railroad, Conrail, CSX Railroad, Penn Central Railroad, the Santa Fe Railroad and the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority.
In total, Ira M. Maurer has won close to one thousand claims -- including several precedent setting lawsuits. He has represented railroad signalmen, engineers, conductors, brakemen, trackmen, electricians, police officers, welders, carmen, coach cleaners, janitors, communications technicians, vending machine technicians, ticket agents, block operators and has worked alongside many local union officers who represent workers in all railroad crafts. Even management employees or their families have sought out Ira Maurer’s legal skills when they have been injured or their loved ones killed on the job.
The Maurer Law Firm has access to railroad unions and railroad safety experts, the most current information and the finest experts in the field of train safety, including an experienced railroad investigator, to help win your case. In addition to being a founding member of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, Maurer’s background includes service as a designated legal counselor for the membership of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen for 17 years.
Important Information Regarding Your Rights Under the FELA
The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit from the date of your injury, also known as the “statute of limitations,” is typically three (3) years. Generally, unless fraud or deception is involved, waiting longer than three (3) years to file a lawsuit bars you from any recovery.
With an injury that occurs over time, such as exposure to diesel exhaust, noise, or wear-and-tear injuries (called cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injuries), the statute of limitations begins when you knew or reasonably should have known your injury is related to your work.
It is critically important to contact The Maurer Law Firm immediately after an injury occurs. By waiting to see what happens, you are risking your rights to file a claim within the statute of limitations, and therefore win a case. In addition, if too much time passes, evidence may be lost, witnesses’ memories fade, and the company gets a jump-start in preparing a case against you.
Making a prediction about whether or not a case will be tried is often difficult, which is why we prepare each case for trial even though it may be settled out of court. If a trial becomes necessary, the judge or jury must make decisions about the following issues:
Who is at fault?
Typically, railroad accidents, derailments and train crashes are caused by negligence, safety and operating rule violations, or other types of careless conduct. Too often, negligent supervision on the part of the railroad supervisor is to blame. Accidents can also be blamed on inadequate manpower and safety procedures for employees.
The railroad must be at least partially at fault, or there is no recovery. You are not barred from recovery even if you are found partially at fault. For instance, if you are 50% responsible for the incident, your damages will be reduced by that amount. The railroad must prove that you are partially to blame for your injury.
What are the damages you may recover?
This is the amount the jury awards you for your claim.
Under the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA), an injured railroad worker is potentially entitled to recover past and future damages, including:
- Lost wages and fringe benefits
- Unpaid medical bills
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
- Vocational retraining costs
- Families of a worker who is killed may be entitled to recover for lost support and services their loved one contributed to the family, as well as any conscious pain and suffering prior to death.
If a pre-existing medical condition made you more susceptible to injury, the railroad remains responsible for all damages caused by its negligence or violation of relevant railroad safety regulations or statutes.
Other Laws May Apply
It is possible that other laws like the federal Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act (defects in engines) or the Safety Appliance Act (defects in cars), or a violation of a federal regulation, apply to your case, thereby affecting the outcome.
Why You Need an Attorney
When you are injured on the job, your railroad employer will do everything in its power to dispute and limit the value of your claim by using its attorneys, claim agents, supervisors and medical staff. The railroad’s efforts usually start with a supervisor taking a statement from you before you are permitted to go to the hospital. Then you will be ushered to the emergency room where the supervisor tries to get the E.R. doctor to say you can work full or light duty. Next, you may be told the railroad has light duty work available and that they will pick you up and return you home to avoid your missing work, avoiding the necessity of reporting a time lost injury to the Federal Railroad Administration. The railroad will then require you to make frequent trips to its medical department where your treating doctor’s note stating you are totally or partially disabled may be ignored and you may be found qualified for full or light duty. Failure to comply with this process or to return to work may result in disciplinary action against you. This type of intimidation and harassment may violate federal law. The Maurer Law Firm knows how to respond to this conduct on your behalf and can force the railroad to back off.
The railroad will only aim to protect itself. It is up to you to protect yourself. In fact, If the railroad has attorneys working for it, why shouldn’t you? Keep in mind that the railroad would rather you not hire an attorney. You may be told that you can expect fairness and justice from the company without hiring an attorney. You may also be asked why you would choose to split your money with a lawyer. The reason they don’t want you to hire an attorney experienced in handling railroad employee injury claims is because you are likely to get substantially more for your claim with proper legal representation (even after attorney’s fees) than if you don’t.
Before you consider representing yourself, remember that by hiring The Maurer Law Firm you will have an experienced and skilled FELA attorney working hard to protect your rights and obtain the best possible result for you.
Think of your claim under the FELA as a life insurance policy that will assist you and your family to obtain compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and fringe benefits, and partial or total disability.
What to Do If You Are Injured at Work
To obtain the best protection, you must consult with your Union leadership or The Maurer Law Firm immediately following a work-related injury. Here are guidelines to refer to when an injury occurs:
Injury Checklist – DO
- Contact The Maurer Law Firm as soon as possible following an injury.
- Fill out the injury report noting all unsafe conditions contributing to the injury.
- Tell supervisors, your fellow workers and union representative about the incident.
- Obtain photos (preferably digital) of the scene, if possible.
- See your doctor for treatment and obtain notes that restrict your work activities and travel as necessary, to ensure you aren’t forced back to work prematurely.
- Inform your doctor’s office that your injury on the job working for an interstate railroad is not covered by workers’ compensation and the doctor’s bill should be at full rates as opposed to discounted workers’ compensation rates.
- Keep records of important information, including: lost wages, all expenses relating to the injury, date, time and place of the incident, names and addresses of all witnesses, identification of any defective or improper equipment or conditions, violations of any rules or procedures.
Injury Checklist – DON'T
- Don't give a statement to the railroad’s claims department before seeking legal advice.
- Don't sign a medical authorization, release or any other paper before seeking legal advice.
- Don’t let supervisors speak with the hospital emergency room staff or your treating doctor or interfere in your treatment.
- Don’t let the railroad’s medical department interfere with your medical care.
- Don’t be forced back to work before your treating doctor says you can safely return.
- Don’t try to settle your injury claim directly with the railroad’s claim representative. You are more likely to obtain a better settlement when represented by an experienced FELA attorney who is familiar with the inner-workings of the railroad and knows the true value of your case.
Injuries in Company Railroad Vehicles
You may have a claim under the FELA if you are injured while riding in a vehicle operated by or hired by the railroad, and you were required to do so according to your job description. In most cases, an outside contractor who is hired by your railroad employer to transport you is the railroad’s agent and may be liable under the FELA along with the railroad. Other motorists involved in your injury may also be responsible for your injuries under the law.
If you are concerned about a safety risk presented by the condition of the driver or the vehicle, do not ride in the vehicle. If your concerns develop during the trip, instruct the driver to stop, and call the dispatcher. Finally, always comply with the company’s rules covering your travel in a transport vehicle, including wearing a seatbelt.
Cumulative Trauma Injuries
A railroad career likely involves cumulative trauma due to the routine and repetitive nature of the work. Cumulative trauma/repetitive stress injury is caused by repetitive motion that deteriorates the cartilage, ligaments, bones and tissues of the human body. Members of the Association of American Railroads are aware of these risks. Before you blame the aging process for your aches and pain, consider the repetitive nature of your work and how it may physically impact your body.
WE CAN HELP. We are prepared to handle cumulative trauma/repetitive stress claims and if necessary, will hire a nationally recognized ergonomic expert and work with your orthopedist to prove that your injuries were caused by negligent exposure to unreasonably dangerous conditions during your railroad employment.
If you have suffered a cumulative trauma/repetitive stress injury, call The Maurer Law Firm at (845) 440-1172 for a free confidential consultation.
Despite what you may think, your supervisor or other company representatives have no right to either communicate with your doctor or be present for your medical exams. Railroad claim agents may try to influence your treating doctors into returning you to work prematurely by holding back payment for your treatment until the doctor approves your return to work.
If you are injured, you are entitled to choose your own doctor and keep your medical records private (your right to privacy is waived when you start a personal injury lawsuit). We advise you to work closely with your doctor during evaluations, diagnosis and treatment. Provide your doctor with accurate and complete information about your current injury as well as pre-existing injuries and medical conditions. At trial, defense counsel won’t hesitate to use your failure to provide an accurate medical history against you if possible. Together you and your doctor can determine whether or not you can safely return to work.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my symptoms?
- How did I feel at the time of injury?
- Have my symptoms gotten progressively worse?
Your doctor should also be informed about the details of your job and the daily physical demands involved.
We are in contact with some of the best physicians in your area and can assist in selecting the right doctor for you. We will provide your doctor with a full job description so a proper decision can be made as to whether or not you can safely return to work.
Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law granting you the right to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid time off from work for the following reasons:
- Serious health conditions that prohibit you from working (i.e. illness, injury, physical or mental impairment)
- To care for your spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
- The birth and care for a newborn baby
Days off for FMLA leave can be taken for sequential periods of time or on specific days as needed. Under the protection of FMLA, days off cannot be held against you or viewed as negative if you are being considered for promotions or job transfers.
Sometimes, companies attempt to frustrate or deny their employees' right to exercise their rights under the Family Medical Leave Act. If this is your complaint, you can sue to enforce your rights, including the recovery of money damages and lost promotions. For instance, railroads, in particular, are commonly attempting to deny their employees’ rights.
Under the FMLA, a civil complaint can be filed against any railroad that:
- interferes with, restrains, or denies the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right under the FMLA, or
- discharges, retaliates against, or in any way discriminates against an individual who files a charge, gives information about any charge or proceeding, or who testifies in any inquiry or proceeding.
The Maurer Law Firm can recover damages for denied or lost wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation denied by an employer, as well as liquidated damages and attorney's fees. The court can also force the company to hire, reinstate or promote you.
Complaints must be filed within two years from the date of the last FMLA violation. Contact us today!
You have the federal statutory right to take unpaid leaves of absence under the FMLA. Call us today if you working for a railroad that is attempting to deny your FMLA rights, by one or more of the following:
- Completely discouraging your use of FMLA time;
- Delaying your freedom to take FMLA time as needed (perhaps by improperly filling out forms, or using that as an excuse for delay)
- Denying your FMLA application for federally protected leaves of absence, with the hope that you will become frustrated and give up trying to obtain FMLA time.
Call us at 866-534-7013 to learn more about the FMLA, for assistance in enforcing your rights, or litigating against employers who unfairly delay or deny your rights.
Protect Yourself – Know Your Rights
As a railroad employee, you have certain rights under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act (LBIA), Safety Appliance Act (SAA), Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) and other relevant laws and regulations. Get educated about the laws and how they can work for you. Interstate railroad employees have legal rights that are not available in other industries because of the extremely dangerous work environment railroad workers are exposed to. Make sure you and your spouse know your legal rights before you have a serious injury or meet an untimely death.
Your Solution to Your Railroad Injury Case
If you are looking for experience second to none, reputation, and professionalism, and a law firm where personal attention to all client needs is our highest priority, contact The Maurer Law Firm. You have one chance to recover fair compensation for a work-related injury. If you consider yourself wise, get wiser with the assistance of an experienced and skilled attorney at The Maurer Law Firm, as soon as possible after an injury. The right lawyer can make a difference. Call the Maurer Law Firm for a free consultation now. Call (845) 440-1172.
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