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The Hart Law Firm

Understanding How the Federal Employer’s Liability Act Affects You

As you walk onto the rail yard, about to begin your shift, are you confident that your employer is looking out for you? Will he take care of you in the event of an accident? If you suffer a debilitating injury while performing your work duties, will your employer take care of your medical bills?

Do you think you know your compensation rights and options when injured on the job? You may want to take another look, because workers’ compensation benefits may not be the option you thought you knew.

Before 1908, railroad workers had no protective rights when injured on the job. If they were hurt on the job, even if the employer was at fault, they had to deal with it on their own. However, in April of 1908, as a result of numerous railway accidents and the expansion of the railroads, a new law was enacted to help protect railway workers’ rights when injured on the job.

This law was called the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA).

Benefits of FELA

FELA is a form of workers’ comp specifically for railroad workers. It states that if a worker is injured as a result of railway negligence, his employer is liable for damages. However, injury must be proven to have been caused by direct negligence of the railroad, railroad employee, its agents or contractors, or from a faulty piece of equipment. Unlike normal workers’ comp, FELA laws are not automatic, nor guaranteed. Employees must produce evidence and argue fault in order to make a case and assign specific blame. However, the overall benefits of FELA over normal workers’ comp make it worth the extra work.

Benefits include:

  • Option to file claims in both federal and state courts. If the injured worker is not at fault, he has the option to claim damages in both a State and Federal court (workers’ comp laws do not allow such measures).
  • Higher compensation rates. FELA uses “comparative negligence” adjustments to award damages. This means that the jury determines the percentage of negligence for which each party is liable, and uses these percentages to establish the award to be allocated to the worker.
  • Broader coverage of injuries. FELA covers direct railroad injures as well as emotional distress, long-term asbestos exposure, repetitive stress and cumulative trauma injuries.
  • FELA claims improve tort law. Due to the fact that FELA cases can be taken to higher courts, they play a significant role in establishing precedent for many tort law issues. They have brought federal attention to the importance of railroad emotional distress, distribution of damages, working condition standards, and employee safety.

Making Sure You’re on the Right Track for Damage Recovery

Fighting an employer for injury compensation can be extremely stressful, especially when you’re trying to heal. Don’t allow stress and frustration to derail you from getting the damages you deserve. If you’ve recently been injured on the job as a result of negligence, equipment malfunction, or employee carelessness, contact us for the representation you need. Our knowledge, support, and guidance will help you get your finances, recovery, and future back on track. The consultation is free, but the outcome may be worth so much more. Call today!

Make sure your family and friends are aware of their railroad work injury rights. Use your social media to share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. Remember, they may not know their risks until it’s too late. By clicking the above media icons, you can help prevent a tragic accident.

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