Experienced Railroad Accident Attorneys Explain Important Things You Need To Know About the Federal Employers Liability Act or FELA, If You Were Injured Working For A Railroad
Railroad work is especially dangerous. Workers take serious risks every day in this type of work, including the risk of: becoming struck by a moving train; electrocution; becoming injured by falling cargo or defective equipment, as well as other serious and potentially life threatening hazards. Due to these hazards, a powerful statute now encourages railroad employer vigilance about the safety of railroad workers. This law is called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Here are some important things you need to know if you were injured while working for a railroad.
What Is The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)?
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protects railroad employees from the constant dangers and high fatality rate of their work. The history of FELA spans over a century. It adds an important measure of safety and security to a hazardous job. FELA provides financial compensation to injured workers, while simultaneously incentivizing railroads to provide safe workplaces.
It is unique in that it permits employees to file a lawsuit directly against their employer. Normally, an employee cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against his or her employer. Instead, the law usually only permits a worker to file a Workers Compensation claim, if the employee is injured on the job. Under FELA, however, an employee can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against his or her employer.
What Do I Need To Prove a Claim Under FELA?
Enacted in 1908, FELA protects the safety of railroad workers because of the the special safety needs and dangers associated with this type of work. This law requires that a railroad provide workers with both a safe place to work as well as reasonably safe tools with which to work. Pursuant to FELA, railroads also have a duty to inspect the property and equipment used by workers to insure reasonable safety. When a railroad fails in these legal obligations, it can held liable for damages.
To establish a claim under FELA, an injured railroad worker need only show that the negligence of the railroad played any part, even the slightest, in causing the injury. This standard of “even the slightest” negligence is far lower than the proof required in any other type of personal injury case. This lower standard motivates railroads to use extreme care to protect workers given the dangerous nature of this type of work. There are four elements to proving a FELA case. You must prove that:
- you sustained an injury;
- while working for a railroad engaged in business that crosses state lines;
- as a result of the railroad’s negligence; and
- that the railroad’s negligence “played a role” in your injury.
What Are Some Common Types of FELA Cases?
Some of the most common types of claims under FELA include defective or malfunctioning equipment; falling machinery; lack of appropriate supervision; collisions between railcars; broken tools and the failure to provide appropriate equipment. If you experienced an accident while working on a railroad, it is important to report the incident to your supervisor as soon as possible. It is also important to take pictures, if possible, of the condition or issue that caused the accident. This type of evidence will help when filing the lawsuit.
A railroad worker with a FELA claim has a right to seek damages for past and future pain and suffering; lost earnings; past and future medical expenses, as well as any other damages that are available to any personal injury claim litigant. A claim seeking damages for wrongful death, is also permissible under FELA.
What is a Whistleblower Claim?
The Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) protects railroad employees who attempt to notify the railroad of safety issues or violations. The FRSA protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employer. For example, if a railroad employee notifies the railroad of a work related injury, safety violation, or fraud, and the company responds by punishing that employee, the employee may file a FRSA claim. An FRSA claim is a “make whole remedy” law, which means if the claim is successful, the railroad must:
- Reinstate the employee;
- Clear all disciplinary actions;
- Pay back lost wages with interest; and
- Pay all legal fees and other damages.
However, the statute of limitations, or time period for filing an FRSA complaint is only 180 days after the railroad employee knows that the company has taken retaliatory action against them.
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If you were injured while working for a railroad, contact our experienced FELA personal injury attorneys for more information by calling (800) 762-9300 or by email . You can also fill out a case intake form, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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