FELA Railroad Lawsuit Injury

A railroad lawsuit injury is an injury that an employee suffers during the course of his/her railroad employment which was caused- in whole or part- by the railroad company. A person who suffers a railroad lawsuit injury may be able to seek relief for his losses through a personal injury lawsuit under the FELA. The FELA is the Federal Employer’s Liability Act that was passed by Congress in 1908 to protect the rights and health of railroad workers.

FELA Lawsuits

FELA lawsuits are initiated to seek fair compensation for the injuries and fatalities that occur on the job among railroad workers. Ever since the late 1800s – when the U.S. railroad industry exploded in terms of size and employment – thousands of railroad employees have been killed or gravely injured during the course of their work. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or FELA, allows lawsuits by the injured or the surviving family members.

Lawsuits against Railroad Employers

The more than 500 railroad companies now operating in the U.S. are the potential defendants in FELA lawsuits. Under FELA, railroad companies have the legal duty to try to prevent injuries and deaths on the job among their employees – by providing training, supervision, and a safe work environment that complies with all stated safety regulations. If a railroad employer fails to do so and an injury or fatality occurs, the railroad company may be the target of a FELA lawsuit.

Railroad Injury Victim Can Seek Compensation Under FELA Law

A railroad lawsuit injury victim can seek relief from his losses under the FELA provided that they can prove that their injuries were due to their employer’s intentional or negligent action. The FELA liability act was enacted to protect workers in a dangerous field from railroad lawsuit injury risks. Because the FELA places liability on employers, its framers thought that railroad companies would be impelled to increase safety standards and better protect workers.

Under the FELA, railroad companies have a duty to prevent railroad lawsuit injury cases by providing a reasonably safe work environment and provide necessary training, supervision, and safety regulations to protect employees. When a company fails to do so and an employee suffers a railroad lawsuit injury, they can seek relief under the FELA. The plaintiff in a FELA railroad injury lawsuit may be eligible to seek compensation for their related medical expenses, loss of income or earning potential, disability, and psychological suffering.

Goal of a FELA Lawsuit

The goal of a FELA lawsuit is to have the railroad company cover the costs of the losses incurred by the injured or his survivors, such as:

  • medical care expenses
  • long-term care
  • rehabilitation
  • loss of income and/or earning potential
  • emotional pain and suffering
  • loss of a family member (including his or her companionship, guidance, and financial support)
  • funeral and burial costs

FELA Complaint

A FELA complaint is the initial step in a FELA lawsuit. It can be brought by the injured railroad worker or by the surviving dependents (family) of a worker who was killed on the job. It’s best to take a FELA complaint to an attorney or law firm that is experienced in FELA cases because this is an area of law that demands in-depth knowledge of some rather specialized and complex statutes and case law.

Risks and Benefits of a FELA Injury Lawsuit

There are risks and benefits to the option of filing a railroad lawsuit injury case. If an injured railroad worker is unable to prove that his company was, at least in part, liable for the railroad lawsuit injury they may receive no compensation for their losses. On the other hand, an injured railroad employee has much more to gain in compensation through a railroad lawsuit injury case than is possible in the worker’s compensation system. Congress designed the laws so that railroad workers and their families would be adequately protected in the event of a railroad lawsuit injury and to deter railroad companies from negligent practices.

FELA Lawsuit Settlements

There have been many FELA lawsuit settlements (that is, agreements between the plaintiff/injured party and the defendant railroad company). An alternative outcome to a FELA lawsuit is a court verdict, arrived at after both parties make their arguments and present their cases in court. A settlement obtained without going to trial is usually the preferable option because it can be obtained sooner and at less cost compared to a court award. In other cases, a settlement is arrived at between the parties after a trial has progressed to some point and the defendant wants to settle the matter.

Settlement Examples

Examples of FELA lawsuit settlements abound. CSX Corp., a very large railroad company, settled over 450 FELA lawsuits brought by workers who alleged severe injuries due to solvent exposure on the job. Many multi-million dollar FELA settlements have been agreed to in scenarios such as the following:

  • a fire in the engine cab trapped the railroad worker, causing severe inhalation injuries
  • an equipment malfunction resulted in the railroad engineer’s leg being amputated
  • collision with another train due to the switch being left open
  • engine brake malfunction caused a permanent disabling back injury
  • poisonous gas spill due to inadequate and substandard rail cars’ derailment

These are just a tiny fraction of the many types of incidents and injuries that have resulted in successful FELA lawsuits.

What Compensation Can Be Obtained in a FELA Lawsuit?

The compensation that can be sought in a FELA lawsuit injury case is remarkably different from the compensation that is received in other work industries when an employee suffers a work-related injury. When most people are injured on the job their employer’s compulsory worker’s compensation insurance will cover the cost of your medical expenses, some of your time off work, and some related expenses. The injured party does not have the right to file a lawsuit against his/her employer, as a railroad employee would.

Contact a FELA Lawyer Who Can Help You File a FELA Lawsuit

If you have been injured in a railroad accident as an employee, you may wish to explore your legal rights and options in a railroad lawsuit injury case. Under the FELA you may be able to seek relief from your railroad lawsuit injury-related losses.

If you would like to learn more about railroad lawsuit injury cases, you may wish to speak with a FELA lawyer who is trained and experienced at handling FELA railroad lawsuit injury cases.