Railroad worker injuries and the Federal Employers Liability Act

October 29, 2016
Railroad worker injuries and the Federal Employers Liability Act

Since 1908, when Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act, railroad workers have enjoyed protection in the form of legal recovery if they are injured on the job.

Almost all types of railroad jobs are covered, even those jobs that are not directly around trains.  Claims by a railroad accident lawyer can be brought against any railroad employer or as a suit in state or federal courts.

Under FELA, a worker who brings a claim against an employer must establish fault, proving negligence, in order to win a suit.  That’s why it is important to understand the legal rights and responsibilities in attempting to receive compensation.

Railroad companies have a number of responsibilities to employees under FELA.  They must:

  • Provide a safe working environment, tools and safety devices.
  • Ensure adequate training takes place.
  • Make sure that there is enough supervision and assistance for workers to do their jobs.
  • Enforce safety rules and regulations.
  • Make sure working conditions are free of hazards and free from intentional, harmful acts of other people.

In other instances where negligence needs to be established to win a claim, the burden of proof can be much higher than in a suit covered by FELA.  FELA claimants only need to show that negligence, no matter how small, played a part in the worker’s accident.  This is sometimes known as a “featherweight” burden of proof.

If a worker wins a FELA suit, they can expect to be compensated for past and future wage losses, past and future medical treatments, and past and future pain, suffering and mental anguish.  In the event of a railroad employee death, a spouse and children can collect damages instead.

In most cases, FELA suits rarely go to trial.  They usually end in mediation and settlement conferences that are ordered by the court.

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