Enacted in 1908, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protects the rights of railroad employees and entitles them to compensation if they are injured on-the-job and can prove that their injuries resulted from an employer’s, co-worker’s or equipment manufacturer’s negligence or recklessness.
In most cases, FELA settlements are significantly greater than awards offered through a state’s traditional workers’ compensation laws.
FELA attorneys work to protect the rights of the injured. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was enacted over 100 years ago to provide railroad employees with a means of obtaining compensation when they are injured in the course of their work (and it provides benefits for the dependent survivors of railroad workers who are killed on the job).
Representing the Injured
Railroad work can be dangerous, but employer railroad companies have the legal duty to provide the safest possible work environment for employees. Sometimes such safety measures are expensive, and railroad companies skimp on them or eliminate them. Thousands of railroad employees are hurt every year in the U.S. due wholly or in part to safety violations or other dangerous conditions that result in, for example:
- brain and spinal cord injuries
- back and shoulder injuries, and head and neck injuries
- permanent disability
- broken bones
- foot or leg injuries from working on ballast
A Complex Field of Law
FELA attorneys are, in effect, personal injury attorneys whose goal is to obtain fair compensation for their injured clients and families. However, FELA is specific to railroad workers, and it is not simply a “railroad version” of personal injury law. The case of a railroad worker who has been hurt or killed on the job is best handled not by an attorney who handles solely personal injury cases (or workers’ compensation cases) but rather by a FELA attorney who knows this field of law in-depth.
Different from Workers’ Compensation
For example, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act is unlike workers’ compensation in several ways:
- Workers’ comp laws are state statutes; FELA is federal
- The requirements for receiving workers’ comp benefits are much easier to meet than the requirements for FELA benefits. In fact, an injured railroad worker (via his or her attorney) must prove that the railroad was negligent – at least in part – for the injury or fatality
- When an injured railroad worker or his family is awarded FELA benefits, the compensation is often much greater than the benefits that would be provided by workers’ compensation
Talk to a FELA Attorney in Your State
Whatever the circumstances of your injury (or your loved one’s death), if it happened on the job at a railroad, a FELA attorney can help. For more information about how to pursue a FELA lawsuit, contact us today. You can get answers to all of your questions and learn about your legal rights under FELA.
FELA Origins & History
FELA was originally passed after President Harrison highlighted the dangers associated with working in the railroad industry. In a famous speech to Congress, President Harrison likened the railroad workers to soldiers enduring the tribulations of war.
Since then, many modern technologies and safety measures have been enacted and have since significantly reduced such risks. However, railroad workers still have an elevated potential of being seriously injured or killed while working due to factors such as:
- exposure to toxins
- frequent use of heavy machinery
- heavy cargo loads
- highway-rail accidents (which occur when railroads interact with highway traffic at train crossings)
- human error
- the time needed to stop speeding, heavy trains
- track and equipment defects
In fact, the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis reports that, from January to March of 2009, there were:
- nearly 2,500 railroad accidents
- 1,600 injuries
- 150 deaths
Types of Railroad Injuries
Some of the most serious types of injuries railroad employees sustain while working include (but aren’t limited to):
- back and neck injuries
- broken bones
- crushing injuries
- permanent disabilities
- traumatic brain injury
FELA Rights & Injury Settlements
Following a serious railroad injury, it’s vital that injured railroad workers:
- Receive emergency medical care to prevent further damage to their health (and, in the worst cases, death)
- Follow through with all long-term prescribed care for the best chances of recovery
- Consult with an experienced FELA railroad attorney to learn more about their legal rights and entitlements
Experienced FELA lawyers will have the experience needed to evaluate an injured employee’s claims, and help them pursue the compensation they are entitled to. For more information about your individual FELA claim, contact us today.