Repetitive Stress Injuries and the Federal Employers Liability Act

Railroad workers are exposed to work conditions that may result in long-term health conditions or injuries. While some of the risk associated with working on the railroad is to be expected, the railroad is responsible to take steps to reduce these risks. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) has been protecting railroad workers for over 100 years. A railroad worker injury lawyer is able to help workers better understand their rights in relation to FELA. What Are Repetitive Stress Injuries? Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) occur when a person engages in the same task repeatedly. Some workers are required to engage in repetitive physical tasks as part of their job. For example, office workers who spend a large percentage of their time typing may develop an RSI known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Failure to have RSIs treated can result in an inability to complete even the most basic daily tasks. Some people who suffer from an untreated RSI find that they cannot drive, type, prepare food or do laundry. Causes of Repetitive Stress Injuries in Railroad Workers Railroad workers are susceptible to RSI because of repetitive motions including the pulling of railroad switches, getting on and off of moving railroad equipment and walking in piles of ballast material. While some of these practices are discontinued due to safety concerns, workers who were injured in the past are still eligible to collect benefits. How Railroads Can Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries Railroads have taken steps to prevent RSIs in many cases. For example, workers are no longer allowed to get on and off of a train car while it is in motion. However, some repetitive tasks are still involved in the normal workday of a railroad worker. It is the responsibility of the railroad to take all possible steps to prevent injuries in the workplace. If repetitive tasks must be completed, railroads are responsible to provide breaks and allow workers to rotate tasks to avoid injury. It is important to understand that a FELA claim lawyer can help with the filing of a claim related to a recent or past injury. Railroad workers who failed to file a claim in the past still have the opportunity to do so, but proving that the railroad is at fault in relation to the injury can be difficult when the injury took place decades ago. FELA attorneys are skilled at gathering information related to these claims and need to be consulted if you plan to file a claim. FELA Attorneys A railroad injury attorney may face challenges when the railroad is unwilling to pay benefits to workers. Railroads may attempt to accuse a worker of filing a false claim, and it is the job of an attorney to prove that a valid injury occurred. RSIs could also develop because of repetitive tasks that are completed in the personal life of a railroad worker. Proving that the injury is related to work is a matter of seeking medical attention to have the condition diagnosed for claims purposes. Assistance from a medical professional is also an essential part of the treatment process. Attorneys are tasked with proving that the railroad did not act diligently in an attempt to prevent injuries from occurring. The unique nature of RSIs in the railroad industry often require lawyers to seek the assistance of a medical expert who can testify that a specific RSI was caused by work related activity performed for the railroad. The long-term nature of an RSI can make it difficult for an attorney to gather information about the injury because it did not occur at one time. A FELA injury lawyer will need to ask questions about length of employment with the railroad, common work tasks performed by the worker and the types of equipment used to complete these tasks.