Your FEDERAL EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY ACT
The Best law in the country protecting men and women injured on the job
What is the FELA?
Railroad workers who are injured on the job are protected under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) 45 U.S.C. § 51. The FELA is a federal law that was enacted by Congress over 100 years ago in response to the dangers associated with working in the railroad industry. The FELA gives railroad employees the right to recover damages from their employers for on the job injuries caused by the railroad’s negligence.
The FELA provides that the railroad shall be liable to an employee for an injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of the railroad, its agents or its employees. The FELA allows you to bring your case in either state or federal court.
As a railroad worker if I am injured on the job am I also covered by worker’s compensation laws?
No. Railroad workers injured on the job are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws. FELA is your exclusive remedy to recover for your injuries. Unlike worker’s compensation laws, the FELA requires you to prove the railroad was negligent in causing your injuries.
What is negligence and how do I prove it?
Under the FELA, the railroad has a duty to provide you with a reasonably safe place to work and exercise reasonable care for your safety. The failure to do so is negligence. For example, the railroad’s duties include furnishing reasonably safe tools and equipment, selecting proper methods of work, furnishing sufficient help, and adopting and enforcing proper work procedures. If the railroad fails to do so and its failure is “a” cause of your injuries, you have negligence under the FELA.
The railroad can also be negligent where it allows unsafe practices and customs to exist. The fact that such practices and customs have been “done that way for years” is not a viable railroad defense.
What if I am also negligent or at fault?
The law requires you to use due care for your own safety. Failure to do so may result in a finding that you were “contributorily” negligent. If a jury determines that both the railroad and the injured railroader were negligent, the damages awarded will be reduced in accordance with the percentage of your negligence or fault. For example, if the jury were to find the railroad’s negligence to be 90% and yours 10%, the amount of your jury verdict will be reduced by 10%.
What happens if the railroad violates a safety law or regulation?
Where a judge or jury finds that the railroad has violated a special railroad safety law or regulation that causes in whole or in part your accident and injuries, the railroad’s liability is absolute, and your negligence if any, does not reduce your recovery.
Who Do I Contact If I am injured at the railroad?
FELA cases require specialized knowledge, experience, and expertise. Should you have the unfortunate circumstance of getting injured on the job at the railroad, always promptly contact your local chairman and SMART-TD Designated Legal Counsel. We are here to guide you through this often difficult process.
• This is first in a series of pieces on the FELA