train at a train crossing

The Importance of Choosing Designated Legal Counsel in FELA Cases

Every year, hundreds of railroad employees are injured or killed on the job. All injured railroad workers have powerful rights under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). But unlike workers compensation claims, the injured railroader must prove that the railroad did something wrong in order to be compensated for medical care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Because of this, the railroads retain skilled claim agents and attorneys to protect their interests. Within minutes, the railroad’s claims team puts its legal knowledge to work by taking photographs, obtaining statements from witnesses, and collecting measurements. But remember, these agents and attorneys work for the railroad, not for you. Often, such as with the recent Kowalewski case, the agents seek to gain an advantage by selectively preserving evidence.

That is why the United Transportation Union (UTU) has chosen experienced and successful trial lawyers as its Designated Legal Counsel. A division of SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation), the UTU is the largest railroad operating union in North America, representing employees on every Class I railroad in the United States. The UTU considers its chosen lawyers to be specialists in handling FELA cases and fully trained in dealing with both railroad lawyers and claim agents.

Consulting with a Designated Legal Counsel about the process as soon as possible often means the difference in hard-fought FELA cases. As your agent, the Designated Legal Counsel’s purpose is to represent YOU. In addition to being considered by the UTU to be the authority on FELA cases, the Designated Legal Counsel has set fees, is accountable to the Union, and offers protections that non-designated attorneys cannot.

Michael Tello of Bolt Law Firm is a former railroader and local chairman who has more than 50 years of railroad industry experience. He is the longest-standing, uninterrupted member of the UTU-SMART Designated Legal Counsel list in the Twin Cities.

Contact the railroad attorneys of Bolt Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation.