Accident and Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Many accident victims are overwhelmed by their injuries, and the thought of a legal case can seem daunting. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team understands these feelings, and we’ve compiled our thoughts on many common worries here to help you get started finding the answers you need to protect yourself and your family. If you’ve been hurt in a construction, maritime, or railroad accident, browse our FAQs today.

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  • Are FELA and Workers Compensation the Same Thing

    No, while FELA and state workers compensation have similar purposes, in that they both compensate workers who are hurt on the job, they are separate laws and they are not the same thing. FELA is an acronym for the Federal Employers Liability Act. Since it was passed in 1908, FELA has helped injured railroad workers recover damages for injuries sustained in the course of their employment. FELA only applies to railroad workers and not to workers in other types of industries.

    Generally, FELA allows for greater compensation to injured railroad workers than state workers compensation laws would provide. For example, a successful FELA claim could allow an injured New York or New Jersey train worker to recover damages for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. FELA does not use the same formula set by workers compensation laws.

    For more information about your potential FELA recovery, please contact an experienced New York City FELA lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer. We can be reached at 1-800-362-9329 for a free consultation.

  • Are railroad accidents always caused by human error?

    No. While the mistake of a conductor or crew member is certainly a potential cause of a railroad accident, it is not the only reason trains derail or crash. In late 2014 and early 2015, for example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released reports about recent train accidents in the New York City area and around the country. According to the preliminary reports, some of the accidents were caused by human error such as operator fatigue and excessive speed. However, other causes were also found, including failure of safety technologies and compromised equipment.

    Non-Human Error

    The NTSB found, for example, that a 2014 collision between two Union Pacific trains in Arkansas may have been caused by a faulty alert. In other words, the technology that was supposed to correct for human error may have failed and instead resulted in actual harm. Similarly, the NTSB found that a 2013 Metro North accident was probably caused by undetected problems with the rail tracks. In these cases, while there may not be a person to blame, the railroad is still at fault and should be held accountable.

    How Will You Know the Cause of Your Train Accident?

    You can’t go out and investigate the accident yourself, but you also don’t want to rely on the word of the railroad. Instead, you want to know the truth from an independent agency and from someone who is representing your interests. If you’ve been injured, we encourage you to follow news of your train accident investigation from the NTSB and to contact an experienced railroad lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected.

    You can contact us online or call our office directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule a free consultation.

  • Can Railroad Switching Accidents Be Serious?

    While the majority of train and engine workers are not hurt or killed in railroad switching accidents, switching accidents are not uncommon and can be serious. Thus, while we encourage you not to worry, our New York railroad lawyers do have several safety suggestions for your family.


    First, we recommend that your husband ask questions of his employer. He should make sure that all applicable safety regulations and recommendations are being followed including, but not limited to, appropriate training for all employees and mentoring for less experienced employees.

    Second, your husband should understand how to report a potential safety hazard before he, or someone else, is injured or killed in a New York railroad switching accident.

    Finally, we encourage both you and your husband to know how to contact an experienced New York railroad attorney if your husband is injured or killed. The railroad may not be forthcoming about your family’s rights after an accident and may offer a settlement that is too low for the damages suffered. A New York train lawyer can help your family understand what happened and zealously advocate for a full and complete recovery.

    To reach a New York railroad accident lawyer after a switching injury or fatality, please call 1-800-362-9329 or complete our online contact form for more information.

  • What Damages Can I Collect if I Am Injured in a New York City Subway Accident?

    If you are injured in a New York City subway accident then the likely defendant in your case is the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). In order to collect damages against the MTA, you must follow specific procedures. A New York railroad accident lawyer can make sure that you follow all applicable procedures in order to safeguard your rights of recovery.

    Potential damages in a subway accident include compensation for all your injuries. For example, your compensation may include the costs of your medical and rehabilitation expenses, reimbursement for your lost wages if you were unable to work because of your injury, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses such as household help or childcare that were made necessary by your injury, and compensation for your pain and suffering. Damage awards typically include compensation for expenses and suffering that you have already endured and expenses and suffering that you are expected to endure. Your New York subway-accident attorney can help you collect the damages to which you may be entitled as a result of your New York subway accident injuries.

    Contact us online or call our office directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.

  • My New York Railroad Employer Wants to Classify My Injury as Non-Occupational. Is this important?

    The classification of your injury as an occupational or non-occupational injury may be very important to your recovery and to your rights. A railroad employer may want the injury to be classified as non-occupational, so as to avoid reporting it and to avoid having to provide appropriate protections to you. However, it may violate the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) to purposefully misclassify the injury or to pressure the injured worker or the injured worker's doctor to make the misclassification.

    If you suffer an occupational injury while working for the railroad, then you have certain protections afforded to you by the FRSA. Some of those protections do not apply if you suffer a non-occupational injury. Thus, the classification of your injury may be critically important both to your financial recovery from your injury and to the protections the FRSA affords you in your job.

    If you have been hurt in a New York or New Jersey railroad accident, then it is important to learn about your rights and how to protect them. Please call a New York FELA lawyer today. The New York FELA attorneys of Hofmann & Schweitzer can be reached at 1-800-362-9329 and would be pleased to provide you with a free consultation.

  • Years of cumulative work and repeated motions at the railroad caused my injury. Do I still have a case?

    My railroad injury has occurred because of years of cumulative work and repeated motions. It was not the result of a single accident. Could I still recover damages, and should I still contact a New York FELA lawyer?

    The answer to both of your question is yes. You may still recover damages for your railroad accident injuries, and you should contact a New York FELA lawyer if you’ve been injured in a New York or New Jersey railroad accident.
    Railroad workers are at particular risk of suffering from cumulative injuries because of the nature of their work. Cumulative injuries can be as serious as acute injuries that happen in a single accident.

    The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) gives injured railroad workers the right to sue their employers if they are injured on-the-job. FELA damages may include compensation for cumulative injuries are not limited to acute injuries.

    If you have suffered a cumulative injury because of your repeated work on the railroad, then you may be entitled to damages. However, your employer may not readily provide you with the compensation that you deserve. For that reason, it is important to contact an experienced New York FELA attorney to learn more about your rights and so that your New York City FELA lawyer can advocate for your fair and just recovery.

    Contact us online or call us directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.

  • As a New York FELA attorney, do you have any suggestions about railroad safety that I should share with my child?

    My teenager wants to take the New York subway alone. We've talked about general safety issues and I believe he is ready to do this. As a New York FELA attorney, do you have any suggestions about railroad safety that I should share with my child?

    Yes, you are right to be concerned both about general safety issues such as theft and violence and about specific railroad safety issues. Our experienced New York FELA lawyers recommend that you advise your teenager about safety issues that are specific to train travel.

    For example, you should warn your child not to stand too close to the platform edge while waiting for the train. All it takes is one slip of a foot and one distracted person to bump into a teenager for the teenager to end up on the tracks were the dangers of moving trains and third rails are very real. Additionally, you should warn your child to sit down or hang on tightly while standing on a subway. A sudden stop could result in a serious injury. Finally, tell your child to watch the gap so that your child doesn't trip and fall getting off the train.

    If you, or your child, have been hurt in a New York subway accident, then please call an experienced New York railroad attorney today for more information about how to protect yourself and your potential legal right to a recovery after an accident injury.

    You can contact us online or call our office directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.

  • Who Investigates Subway Accidents

    In order to recover damages from a subway accident, the injured party must know what caused the accident. Whether you are an MTA subway worker or passenger, the investigation into what caused your accident is important to both your personal recovery and to making sure that future accidents are prevented.

    Generally, the MTA will conduct its own investigation into what caused the New York City subway accident. However, as an injured party, it is important not to rely on that investigation alone.

    We encourage you to contact a New York subway accident lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible after your accident so that we can also investigate what caused your accident. We will review the facts of your case with you and explain how we plan to conduct the investigation. For example, we may talk to the conductor, subpoena records from the MTA, talk to eyewitnesses, and ensure that important evidence is preserved.

    Call our office directly at 1-800-362-9329 or via our online contact form for more information.

  • Should I Push for the Federal Railroad Administration FRA to Investigate My New York Railroad Accident

    The FRA has very specific guidelines that it uses when it decides whether or not to investigate a New York train accident. Not all New York railroad employee injuries will quality for an FRA investigation. However, that does not mean that New York railroad employees are without remedies.

    Generally, an FRA investigation may be of interest to an injured railroad worker and may impose sanctions or corrective action on a railroad employer. However, in many cases an injured railroad worker will need to pursue damages independently. This can be done regardless of whether an FRA investigation was completed and regardless of the results of an FRA investigation if one was done.

    Your efforts to push for an FRA investigation may or may not be important. Before you can assess whether you should push the agency to investigate your accident, it is important to contact an experienced New York FELA attorney. The New York FELA lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer will make sure that your case is thoroughly investigated, and we will fight hard for your fair and just recovery.

    Please call us today at 1-800-362-9329 or contact us online for more information.

  • Who Will Pay My Damages if I Am Hurt in a New York or New Jersey Railroad Crossing Accident?

    That depends on who is injured and who caused the accident. Assuming that the railroad is liable for the accident, the railroad is legally obligated to pay damages resulting from the accident. If the injured party is a railroad worker, the Federal Employee Liability Act ( FELA) would hold the railroad responsible for damages. Even if the injured party is a train passenger or motorist, the railroad may still be liable for personal injury damages.

    Damages may include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost income, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.

    For more information about who may be responsible for paying your damages after a New Jersey or New York railroad crossing accident, please contact a New York FELA attorney or a New Jersey railroad lawyer for a free consultation. The railroad injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can be reached at 1-800-362-9329 or via our online contact form.