Railroad workers are essential to maintaining the flow of goods throughout the U.S. In recognition of the value of their service, the country has enacted a federal law, FELA, to provide benefits to injured railroaders and the families of railroad workers who suffer fatal injuries on the job. However, accessing your benefits can be challenging.
Contact an Alice FELA lawyer right away if you were hurt doing your work on the railroads, or if your railroad worker family member died of a work-related illness or injury. An experienced workplace accident attorney could explain your rights and assist you in making your claim.
How FELA Protects Railroad Workers
FELA stands for the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. It is a federal law that has been protecting railroad workers from financial losses due to work-related injuries for over 100 years. The law makes railroads liable when their negligence causes a railroad worker to suffer an injury, illness, or death.
FELA covers workers whose jobs involve keeping the trains engaging in commerce. Railyard carpenters, machinists, trackmen, welders, laborers, conductors, engineers, pipefitters, and carmen are some of the positions that are covered by FELA. Railroad workers whose jobs do not require them to work on the trains or in the yard may not be covered. An Alice attorney could explain whether FELA applies to a specific worker.
The law requires railroads to provide a safe working environment or face a potential lawsuit. A safe working environment means providing adequate training and equipment, establishing and enforcing appropriate safety rules, and keeping the workspace free of hazards. The railroad could be responsible for paying compensation to any worker who is injured or killed due to its failure to provide a safe working environment.
Pursuing a FELA Claim
When a railroad worker seeks compensation for a work-related injury, they must prove the railroad’s negligence contributed to the incident. The standard for proving negligence is easier to meet in a FELA claim than in an injury claim arising in another context, such as a car accident. An injured railroad worker need only show that the railroad’s conduct was a factor in the incident that caused the injury, not the primary cause.
An Alice FELA attorney could gather evidence of the railroad’s failure to provide a safe working environment by:
- Inspecting the scene of the incident
- Reviewing training protocols
- Inspecting safety equipment
- Evaluating safety rules and their enforcement
- Obtaining records of safety violations at the site
Any information indicating that the railroad could have done more to prevent an accident is evidence that could support a worker’s FELA claim.
Railroader Negligence and Its Impact On FELA Claims
The FELA statute says that when a railroader is partially responsible for the incident that injured them, the worker cannot collect all their damages. The injured worker can only collect the percentage of their losses that equals the railroad’s portion of fault. How much fault to allocate to the worker and the railroad is often a subject of tense negotiations.
Railroads will try to diminish their responsibility by claiming an accident was the worker’s fault, but a FELA attorney representing an Alice worker could produce evidence showing the railroad was responsible. For example, the railroad might claim a worker did not use safety equipment properly, causing the accident that led to the injury. A legal professional could present evidence that the equipment was old and poorly maintained or the railroad did not provide adequate training in its use.
In some cases, a railroad cannot claim the worker’s negligence contributed to their injury. The law at 45 United States Code § 53 says that if the railroad was out of compliance with any safety laws or regulations, and the violation contributed to the accident that injured the worker, the worker can collect full damages even if they were negligent.
Contact a FELA Attorney for Help Filing a Claim
FELA offers valuable benefits to railroaders and their families, but obtaining the compensation you deserve can be a struggle. Railroads often try to reduce their liability by blaming a worker for an accident.
Reach out to an Alice FELA lawyer immediately if you were hurt while working on a train or in a railyard. A seasoned legal professional could know how to gather the evidence you need to prove your claim and obtain the maximum compensation available under the circumstances. Call today.