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Understanding the Federal Employers Liability Act

On Behalf of | May 21, 2020 | Firm News |

Railroad workers often deal with a dangerous work environment that is full of potential hazards. While the railroads have made dramatic improvements to increase worker safety over the last century, working around trains is still a potentially fatal occupation. Fortunately, Congress recognized the need for employee protection in 1908 and passed the Federal Employers Liability Act into law.

We understand how the FELA applies to railroad workers who sustain injuries while on the job and have helped many of our clients with their claims.

FELA basics

According to FindLaw, FELA provides a means for railroad workers and their families to recover damages resulting from an injury to a railroad employee. Generally speaking, just about any injury qualifies for coverage, as long as the employee works for the railroad. This includes people whose primary duties are not directly related to the trains, such as a customer service representative. In addition to providing compensation for injuries, the FELA is also responsible for establishing liability standards in regards to employee safety and safe working conditions.

FELA versus worker’s compensation

Unlike workers’ compensation, which is generally “no-fault” insurance, FELA requires that you prove negligence on the part of the railroad company, its workers or even the equipment manufacturers. This negligence must be the cause of your injury. Additionally, you must establish the degree to which a party is at fault, similar to a personal injury lawsuit. Common complaints brought under the FELA include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Failure to provide a safe work environment
  • Failure to establish reasonable work quotas
  • Failure to enforce safety rules
  • Failure to properly train staff

More information about this topic is available on our webpage.