Railroad workers have a difficult and dangerous job, and long before any system of Workers’ Compensation existed, the government took steps to protect railroad workers who are injured while on the job. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was passed by Congress in 1908. This established a federal system of compensation for railroad workers and their families, for those workers who suffer work-related injuries.
FELA covers almost all injuries suffered by railroad employees, including those who do not work exclusively in or around trains. Most injuries fall into one of the following five categories:
Under FELA, railroad workers have a right to a reasonably safe workplace. Railroad companies and employers must provide a safe work environment and inspect it regularly to ensure it is free of hazards; safe equipment, tools and personal protective equipment; and provide suitable training, supervision and assistance to employees in their jobs. Failure to do so can render them responsible for injuries suffered by their employees.
Additionally, employers must ensure that safety rules and regulations are being enforced, keeping workers safe from intentional harmful acts of others, and refraining from using unreasonable work quotas. Essentially, FELA helps to ensure uniform safety and liability standards within the railroad industry.
Unlike Workers’ Compensation, FELA is a fault-based system. To recover compensation for injuries, an injured railroad worker must prove the employer was negligent, and that this negligence caused the injuries. However, the burden of proof in a FELA claim is less than that needed to establish fault in an ordinary negligence claim.
Typically, the plaintiff in a FELA case only needs to show that a law was violated and that they were injured. The degree to which the defendant’s negligence played a part in the injuries is often inconsequential. A successful FELA claim generally brings awards much higher than those available in Workers’ Compensation cases and are more extensive. Damages can include some or all of the following:
If you were partly to blame for the accident that caused your injuries, then the final sum paid to you could reflect that under the legal defense concept known as “comparative negligence”. For example: If the court awards you $20,000 in damages, but also finds you bear 10 percent of the total responsibility for your injuries, then the amount you recover could be $18,000, less ten percent ($2,000).
Railroad companies have very specific responsibilities to provide a safe workplace for their employees as outlined by FELA. If you are a railroad worker who has suffered a work-related accident caused by negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Working with a qualified attorney who regularly handles FELA cases can ensure you recover everything you are entitled to, and that your claim is not disqualified due to missed deadlines and other technicalities.
Injured railroad workers seeking compensation should contact the experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Gross & Kenny LLP. We understand FELA claims and will fight to make sure you receive the maximum compensation available for your case. Call us today at 267-589-0900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. From our offices in Center City, Philadelphia we serve injured workers throughout the state of Pennsylvania.