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Suing a Community Railway Company for Injuries

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who was hurt while working for a commuter railway company employee.  Since he was injured on the job, he called thinking he had a worker’s compensation case.  But that is likely not the case.  In this episode, we explain why.

In an earlier episode, we discussed a FELA claim.  The letters FELA stand for Federal Employees’ Liability Act.  You can listen to Episode 109 for more information on FELA claims.

As strange as it sounds, the Federal Employees’ Liability Act extends to cover employees that don’t work for the federal government.

Unfortunately, more times than not, the name given to a statute doesn’t always describe the purpose of the law or the people covered by the statute’s scope.

In fact, many people would argue that the names assigned to statutes in many cases have little to do with the actual application of the law.

The FELA applies to any railway worker, even if the railway worker works for a subdivision of state government.

Those of you who follow this podcast probably already see where we are headed with this episode.

100 points if you guessed that because the commuter railway is operating as a subdivision of state government, the Indiana Tort Claim Act, requiring notice, comes into play.

What does this mean in practical terms?  Well, the caller who was hurt on the job needs to give notice of an intent to sue within the 180 days required by the Tort Claim Act.

The notice to sue has to be given even though the nature of the claim the caller will be making is a FELA claim.

This is why we always suggest contacting an attorney soon after a crash.

In a recent Indiana Supreme Court case, the court held that to sue a commuter railway, a political subdivision of the state, even an employee must give pre-suit notice within 180 days of an injury.  The court held the notice requirement applied to an injured employee who was hurt at work while hammering spikes into frozen track ties.

In this case, the employee failed to give timely notice of his intent to sue and could not proceed with a claim.

Indiana has long held that a passenger hurt on an Indiana commuter train has to give timely notice of an intent to sue before proceeding with their lawsuit.

However, the notice requirement had not until 2022 been extended to cover employees hurt on the job.

Every day you learn something new.

I hope you found this information helpful.  If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions.  You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”