The Federal Employers' Liability Act – better known as the FELA – is the federal law that deals with the rights to compensation for a railroad worker injured on the job. The FELA was enacted in 1908 to protect railroad workers injured in the course of their work. Because injured railroad workers are not eligible for Workers’ Compensation, the FELA gives them the right, under certain circumstances, to recover compensation from their railroad employer if they are injured on the job.
Some Circumstances where FELA provides protection:The FELA requires railroad companies to provide their employees a reasonably safe place to work, no matter where the employee is working. This means that the railroad has a duty to provide its employees things like:
The above is not an exclusive list, there may be many other ways the railroad, or it's agents, (such as limo/ jitney companies or hotels where employees are provided for required rest between runs) may be negligent. If you have any questions whether your injury is covered, please talk to a knowledgeable attorney. We provide free initial consultations. If you hire us, we do not get paid unless we win.
The railroad is obligated to inspect its equipment and work areas for unsafe conditions, and remedy those conditions as soon as reasonably possible. Unlike state Workers’ Compensation statutes, the FELA is negligence based, meaning that, in most cases, an injured worker has to prove that the railroad was negligent to recover damages. A railroad is liable to pay monetary damages to an injured worker if the railroad’s negligence was a cause, in whole or in part, of the worker’s injury. In other words, even if the railroad’s negligence was only one of several causes of an injury, the railroad is liable for damages to the injured worker or the deceased worker’s dependents. The railroad is statutorily prohibited from arguing that an injured worker assumed the risk of his employment in FELA cases.
There are two other federal safety statutes known as the Locomotive Inspection Act and the Safety Appliance Act which operate in conjunction with the FELA. The Locomotive Inspection Act requires a railroad to keep its locomotives in proper condition and safe to operate without unnecessary danger of personal injury. The Safety Appliance Act requires a railroad to have and maintain safety devices on its rail vehicles. Unlike the FELA, the Locomotive Inspection Act and the Safety Appliance Act are strict liability statutes, meaning that an injured railroad worker need not prove that the railroad was negligent, only that the railroad violated one of the statutes. If a railroad violates either the Locomotive Inspection Act or the Safety Appliance Act and a railroad worker is injured, that worker cannot be found to have been contributorily negligent in causing his injury. Like the FELA, assumption of the risk is not a defense for the railroad in Locomotive Inspection Act and Safety Appliance Act cases.
When deciding to bring an FELA lawsuit, it is important to have experienced FELA attorneys fighting for you. The FELA is unique, and an FELA lawsuit often differs significantly from a traditional personal injury lawsuit. Because the law has been around for 100 years, the railroad industry has developed highly sophisticated risk management departments. These departments employ claim agents who begin protecting the railroad’s financial interest and looking for ways to blame an injury on the worker as soon as an injury is reported and often times before medical treatment is even administered to the injured worker.
In order to protect your rights and your family’s security, it is important that you understand your rights and obligations when you suffer an on-duty injury. Brian Reddy has over 20 years experience litigating and trying cases against railroads on behalf of injured workers. Call us at (419) 482-1467 anytime for a no fee, and no pressure, initial consultation with Brian Reddy. If you would like us to represent you and we can take your case, we are committed to offering you advice, assistance and support in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere throughout the process.
If you are worried about your situation and would like to discuss it with attorney Brian Reddy, call him today at (419) 482-1467. He'll be happy to talk to you.
Steps taken by the risk management department and the claim agents include, but are not limited to, the following: