The Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) of 1908 expanded the protections railroad workers enjoyed under the law and gave them the right to claim compensation from their employers for any injuries caused by the employer's negligence. Although FELA was undoubtedly beneficial to railroad workers, the protections it guaranteed them were not absolute. For example, a worker filing a FELA lawsuit must be able to prove negligence on the part of his or her employer - a simple task on paper, but far more difficult in a court of law. Another restriction imposed on FELA lawsuits is the statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is a law which requires any and all legal action stemming from a specific event to be initiated before a certain amount of time has passed. In other words, if a railroad employee slips and falls on the job, the statute of limitations tells him how much time he has to file any legal action. After the time period mandated by the statute of limitations has expired, the employee no longer has the option of taking legal action. The Time Limit for FELA For FELA lawsuits, the statute of limitations allows legal actions to be filed for a period of three years following an incident. This poses both simple and complex questions for an injured worker. A simple situation may be something like this: On January 1st, 2008, an employee catches his hand in a faulty mechanism and fractures his finger.
Because the statute of limitations for FELA is three years, the employee has until January 1st, 2011, to file his lawsuit. The issue becomes more complicated when an injury results from factors which cannot be pinned down to once specific moment. For example, if an employee is exposed to harmful substances while working on the railroad, he or she may not feel the effects until years later. If the statute of limitations were calculated the same way as in the previous example, the employee would be out of luck if he or she did not discover symptoms within three years. Fortunately, the statute of limitations makes provisions for situations like these: 1)When the injured worker knows or should have known about his injury, and 2)When the injured worker knows or should have known that his injury was work-related, Then the statute of limitations begins counting down its three year time limit.
In other words, if an employee exposed to harmful substances on the job does not develop symptoms until 10 years later, the statute of limitations allows him 3 years from when he is diagnosed to file any legal action he may decide on.
Joe Devine For more information visit http://www.felalawsuitattorney.com .