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Railroad Worker Injuries and the Protection Provided by FELA

Trains once served as a major means of transportation to thousands of Americans; these also caused a major impact on the country’s economic growth by carrying tons of cargo and goods from one state to another in a fast and efficient manner.

The use of trains, to transport cargo and people, saw a remarkable increase between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The positive effect of this occurrence to economic growth, though, was slowed down by the unexpected increase in the number of job-related accidents involving railroad workers.

Today, federal and state laws exist to ensure the safety and health of railroad workers. These same laws mandate and make it imperative for employers to makes sure that all railroad employees are safe whenever in the workplace by:

  • Giving them proper training about their job
  • Making sure that all equipment and tools needed to perform job are properly maintained and in good working condition
  • Providing sufficient lighting in work areas
  • Putting in enough man-power to accomplish necessary work
  • Ensuring that working areas are always maintained and cleaned
  • Providing proper supervision in the workplace
  • Making sure that all walkways are safe from hazards
  • Ensuring that all of the train’s brakes (whether manual or hand brakes) are without defect and in good working condition (including air reservoirs, connecting pipes, and air hoses)
  • Keeping all parts of the locomotive always safe for use and working properly

In cases of injuries, though, workers should know that they are protected by the Federal Employer’s Liability Act or FELA, which gives them the right to file a claims lawsuit against his/her employer for financial damages, lost wages, medical expenses, and/or disability (partial or permanent). But for a FELA claim to be valid, the injured employee has to prove that he/she was: injured during the performance of work; the work area was not safe, and that the equipment and/or tools available for use were faulty or defective; and, that accident was clearly a result of an unsafe working area or working condition.

Through FELA, an injured worker can be awarded the compensation that he/she deserves. But he/she has to have a strong and competent representation from a highly-qualified lawyer who practices personal injury in San Diego for a greater chance of netting the compensation that he/she deserves and needs. Lawyers are taught how to file these claims and see them through to their completion.

What are the Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Iowa?

When a worker is injured or dies in the workplace in the commission of his or her job, the employer must provide workers’ compensation benefits either through a private insurer or as a self-insurer. There are many benefits mandated by law in Iowa, the applicability of which will depend on the circumstances of the injury or death. These benefits include:

Medical – medical care and transportation that may reasonably be required to treat an injury; also includes a provision for lost wages when an employee is required to go on leave for medical treatment

Disability – this includes Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), Healing Period (HP), Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) and Permanent Total Disability (PTD). In general, the weekly compensation for an injured employee cannot exceed 80% of a worker’s spendable earnings (weekly pay net of payroll taxes). The maximum weekly benefit for PPD is $1,378, while the maximum benefit for TTD, HP, PTD and death is $1,498 (effective until June 30, 2013). For TPD, the computation is based on the difference between the weekly earnings at the time of the injury and the subsequent lower paying job. TPD benefit amount is 66 2/3% of that difference.
In Iowa, if a second injury to the eye, hand, arm, foot or leg is sustained after a worker qualifies for PPD benefits for injury to a similar body part, that worker will be entitled to benefits under the Second Injury Fund.

Vocational Rehabilitation – when a worker becomes disabled, he or she may be eligible for participation in training to prepare for, qualify for, and maintain employment provided by the Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and will be paid $100 a week for up to 13 weeks while rehabilitation is ongoing. This may be extended a further 13 weeks upon approval by the workers’ compensation commissioner.

Death – Benefits are paid to the surviving spouse for life or until remarriage if there are no dependent children, whereupon a two-year lump sum settlement is given. In the absence of a spouse, dependent children get the benefits until they reach the age of 18 or 25, depending on the degree of actual dependence. Burial expenses are also included.
If you believe that you have not received the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve, contact a lawyer in Iowa who has extensive experience in dealing with workers’ compensation cases. They will know precisely how to get the maximum benefits that should accrue to you.

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