Louisiana FELA Lawyer
Railroads are a key part of the supply chain in Louisiana. Commuter and passenger railroads are almost as important. Frequently, especially with regard to cargo trains, the vehicles and other infrastructure dates back to the 1970s, or even earlier. Therefore, serious occupational diseases, like asbestos poisoning and lead poisoning, are common. A single asbestos fiber could cause mesothelioma, an aggressive and rare form of lung cancer, or asbestosis, an equally-rare and serious lung disease. Lead poisoning effects vary wildly. However, all of them, from liver failure and cognitive delays to leukemia and brain injuries, are very serious. Generally, state workers’ compensation laws do not apply to interstate railroads. Furthermore, negligence, or a lack of care, is very difficult to prove in many cases.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) protects injured victims in these situations. FELA, a law that railroad magnates have repeatedly tried to overrule or water down, is a hybrid between civil injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. So, only the experienced Lousiana FELA lawyer at Lunsford, Banskin & Priebe should handle these complex claims. A well-meaning but less-experienced lawyer may be unable to obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Breaking Down a FELA Claim
Claimants do not need to prove employer fault, negligence, recklessness, or anything else to receive the no-fault benefits available through workers’ compensation. Civil injury claimants must normally prove employer negligence caused their injuries, at least for the most part.
As mentioned, FELA claims are somewhere in between. Injured railroad workers must prove that employer negligence contributed to their injuries, instead of proving causation.
Assume Sarah spends long hours working around railroad ballast (the tiny pebbles around most railroad tracks). As a result, she inhales silica dust and develops a serious lung disease. Even if Sarah’s boss provided masks or other protective breathing equipment, a Louisiana FELA lawyer could still prove negligence for FELA purposes. Sarah’s boss also has a duty to provide the most effective, as opposed to the cheapest, protective breathing equipment. Moreover, the boss must tell Sarah why the equipment is important and ensure that she uses it.
Most negligence defenses, such as comparative fault, only shift part of the blame from the tortfeasor (negligent party) to the victim. So, these defenses are usually ineffective in FELA claims. Even if the boss was only 1 percent responsible for Sarah’s injuries, she’s entitled to maximum compensation in these claims.
Evidence in FELA Claims
Basic proof, like medical bills and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, may be the only evidence required in these cases.
Medical bills not only include treatment, prognosis, cost, and other “just the facts, ma’am” information. These bills usually include notes which indicate the victim’s pain level at different times. These notes go a long way toward setting the amount of noneconomic damages in a FELA claim.
Human memory is not a video camera or a tape recorder. We recall things selectively. For that reason, the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony usually requires some corroboration. But in FELA claims, since the standard of proof is so low, one side of the story is usually enough to obtain maximum compensation.
Contact a Diligent Lafayette Parish Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Louisiana FELA lawyer, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, LLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.