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FELA and Your Rights

Federal Employer's Liability Act

While the Federal Employer’s Liability Act can be very favorable to railroad employees, it is not an absolute liability law.  Even though FELA was passed to protect the rights of injured railroad employees, the fact that you were injured does not guarantee recovery.  You must prove a claim of negligence against the railroad or that defective or bad ordered equipment played a part in your accident in order to be compensated.

Proving a Claim

Before you or your family is entitled to collect any money for compensation, you must prove the following:

  1. That at the time of your injury, you were engaged in an activity that furthered the railroad’s interstate business.  Basically, this includes any activity by a railroad employee during the course of his duties.  An employee deadheading or traveling on behalf of the railroad is also covered by the FELA.
  2. That the injury is the direct result of an accident that took place while you were working for the railroad.
  3. That your injury is due to some negligence or fault on the part of the railroad in failing to provide you with a safe place to work, safe equipment, or proper tools or appliances.
  4. That you have made reasonable efforts to mitigate or lessen your damages by returning to some form of employment if physically able to do so.

 

Negligence Defined

 

Negligence is defined as the railroad’s failure to exercise reasonable care in its obligation to the employee.  It could be as a result of not providing a safe place to work, proper tools and equipment to do the job, bad job briefing, or adequate help or training.  The courts have held that the employer’s negligence does not have to be the sole cause of the accident.  So long as the carrier was at fault in the slightest degree, it is enough to establish the right to bring a claim.

 

Comparative Negligence

 

To counter your claim, the railroad will try to blame you.  This is known as comparative negligence.  If the railroad is able to show that you were at fault, a jury may reduce an award to you by the percent of your own negligence.  For example, if an injured railroad employee is entitled to collect $500,000 as a result of the injuries he sustained, but the jury found that railroader was 50 percent negligent or at fault, the award would be reduced to $250,000.

Please contact the attorneys at Wallace & Graham to discuss your rights. The firm is very experienced in helping railroaders and their families and you can come into the office for a free no obligation consultation. All our conversations are protected and privileged conversations so you know you can trust us to help in a discreet positive way. You can call us at any time even if you haven’t been hurt as we want you to know your rights. Attorney Dan Francis, with over 25 years of experience helping Railroaders know their rights. This includes such issues as railroad retirement benefits, sickness benefits, retaliation or whistleblower cases and labor and discipline matters. Please call for a no obligation consultation at the office or by telephone.


Special Circumstances – Railroad Safety Laws

The Locomotive Inspection Act and Safety Appliance Act – The Locomotive Inspection Act and Safety Appliance Act deals specifically with the safety and maintenance of locomotives and railroad cars.

If an injured worker can show that the railroad’s faulty equipment was in violation of the Act, the railroader has established absolute 100% liability against the railroad.  The worker cannot be blamed for any comparative fault.

An example of a Safety Appliance Act Violation is a defective handbrake, coupler or drawbar on a railcar.  The Locomotive Inspection Act prohibits unsafe or slippery walkways, defective seats, and/or other unsafe or defective equipment on locomotives.

Usually the damages under the FELA can be significantly greater than that which would normally be collected if under workmen’s compensation.  They include lost wages, pain and suffering, permanency of injury and effect on life style, future pain and suffering, future lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses, including medical costs.  Because FELA involves bringing a claim directly against the employer, the railroads make every effort to keep the amount they pay out as low as possible.

Please call our office and we can discuss your rights to medical evaluations and examinations to determine the connection between work and your painful injuries.

Asbestos injuries, chemical injuries, diesel exhaust and other respiratory injuries  

 

The railroad industry, like many corporations, relied upon asbestos and asbestos products in its operations. The industry routinely, and without adequate warning, training, or safety measures, used it for insulation, brake shoes, pumps, valves, headliners, and a long list of other railroad applications. It is a leading cause of long term respiratory injuries, cancer. lung cancer and the only known cause of Mesothelioma, a fatal cancer. Claims against the railroad require a unique skill set and working understanding of how railroad incorporated asbestos in its operations. Additionally the railroad routinely exposes its employees to diesel exhaust, pesticides, Cleaning chemicals, silica, sand dust, and other harmful respirable agents.

Federal law is very unique and you must be prepared to litigate against the railroad to obtain fair and reasonable compensation you or your family deserve. The railroad knew of this relationship between asbestos and other harmful fumes, chemicals and cancer causing agents and the potential for injuries to its employees and their families yet did nothing. The railroad is well aware of the harm these agents can cause yet routinely ignores the situation because they know it is a long term issue and hope the employee will simply never connect the dots. We are here to help connect the dots and hold the railroad accountable for your injuries and the damages caused to you and your family as a result of the railroad’s negligence.

For example in just talking about asbestos the industry knew of the dangers. Its medical directors had long held knowledge and experience of this problem and yet, importantly, made an active and knowingly decision to keep this knowledge of the harm a secret from the employees. This scenario repeats itself for just about every harmful chemical or agent out on the system and is just an example for you to understand the type of work we do to uncover the railroads silence to its employees and what we do to hold them responsible. The railroad does not want to advise the employees of the potential harms because of one reason, the fear of FELA claims.

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with any type of occupational cancer, respiratory illness or mesothelioma call us as soon as possible as you have limited time to file a claim once you have become aware the railroad is responsible. It is very important that you call.

Please contact the attorneys at Wallace & Graham to discuss your rights. The firm is very experienced in helping railroaders and their families and you can come into the office for a free no obligation consultation. All our conversations are protected and privileged conversations so you know you can trust us to help in a discreet positive way.