Personal Injury

Collecting Damages from a Railroad Accident

Railroad injuries range from deaths in a collision to minor scrapes in a slip and fall. To collect damages is the legal term for recovering compensation for your injury or loss.

The way you go about collecting damages for a railroad injury depends on whether you're a railroad employee or customer.

Railroad Workers

Railroad workers usually can't collect under state workers' compensation laws. Instead, railway worker injuries are covered by the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).

To collect under the FELA, you must prove your injury was caused by the railroad's negligence. That is, you must show the railroad didn't take reasonable precautions to provide a safe workplace.

You may prove the railroad was negligent by showing it failed to:

  • Provide safe and proper tools and equipment
  • Inspect and maintain tools and equipment
  • Select safe methods to do the work
  • Provide enough workers to safely complete the work
  • Adopt or enforce safety rules
  • Provide adequate worker training and instructions

This is often difficult to prove. The railroad may try to reduce its liability by blaming you for the accident. That's why it's very important to contact your own personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.

Railroad Passengers

If you're a paying passenger injured in a railroad accident, it's easier to collect damages.

Regularly scheduled railroads transporting passengers and freight for hire are considered common carriers. Railroads and other common carriers are held to a higher standard of care than negligence to protect the safety of passengers.

That means railroads are responsible for passenger injuries if they fail to use the highest degree of caution in carrying passengers to their destinations. You may recover damages for injuries caused by a crash, from a slip and fall on a railroad platform, or from any other cause under the railroad's control.

Many railroads are owned or operated by the government. In these cases, laws called tort claims acts may apply. These laws usually require you to give the government notice of your injury within a very short time after the accident. You can lose your right to sue if you don't give notice in time.

If you're hurt in a railroad accident, find a qualified personal injury attorney right away. An attorney can help investigate the accident, document your injuries, preserve evidence and protect your right to collect damages.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • How much could I recover for my injury?
  • Will you provide a free consultation to discuss my accident?
  • Do I have a legal claim even if I'm partly to blame for my accident?

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