Fighting for Railroad Workers: The Role of FELA Attorneys

FELA is a federal law enacted in 1908 to protect railroad workers injured on the job. Unlike typical workers’ compensation claims, FELA allows workers to sue their employers for negligence, potentially leading to higher compensation.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Railroad workers face unique hazards on the job, and when accidents happen, they rely on the protections afforded by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). FELA attorneys play a crucial role in helping injured railroad workers seek justice and compensation. This blog post explores the work of these legal professionals in detail.

2. How FELA Differs from Workers’ Compensation

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and workers’ compensation are both designed to protect workers who are injured on the job. However, they differ significantly in their approach and application.

FELA specifically covers railroad workers across the United States. It allows these workers to sue their employers for negligence that leads to an injury. To make a successful claim under FELA, the injured worker must prove that the railroad company was at least partially negligent in causing the injury. This could include failing to provide a safe work environment, adequate safety equipment or training, or to enforce safety rules.

On the other hand, workers’ compensation is a state-mandated program that covers most employees, providing them with benefits if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Unlike FELA, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury. They don’t need to prove employer negligence, only that the injury occurred while they were working.

3. Common Types of Railroad Worker Injuries

Railroad workers are exposed to a variety of hazards that can lead to serious injuries.

  • Physical Trauma: Due to the nature of the work, physical trauma such as broken bones, sprains, and strains are common. These can occur due to falls, being struck by equipment, or accidents during loading and unloading operations.
  • Hearing Loss: Constant exposure to loud noises from trains and machinery can lead to significant hearing loss over time.
  • Respiratory Diseases: Inhalation of dust, diesel fumes, and other harmful substances can lead to respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
  • Repetitive Stress Injuries: Performing the same tasks repeatedly can cause injuries over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back problems.
  • Burns and Electrocutions: Working with high-voltage equipment or around combustible materials can lead to burns or electrocution.

In the event of an injury, workers are protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and should seek legal advice to understand their rights.

4. The Role of a FELA Attorney

A FELA attorney guides injured railroad workers through the process of filing a claim under FELA. Their responsibilities include gathering evidence, proving negligence, calculating damages, negotiating settlements, and representing the worker in court if necessary.

5. What to Expect in a FELA Claim

A Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claim involves several steps. Initially, the injured railroad worker must report the injury to their employer and seek immediate medical attention. Then, with the help of a FELA attorney, the worker must gather evidence to prove the railroad company’s negligence caused the injury.

This can include photos, witness statements, and medical records. The claim process often involves negotiations with the railroad company’s insurance provider. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial. The process can be lengthy, often taking months or even years to resolve.

6. The Importance of Legal Representation

Securing legal representation is crucial in a Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claim. A FELA attorney can guide injured railroad workers through the complex legal process, which includes gathering evidence, proving employer negligence, and calculating accurate damages. They can also negotiate effectively with insurance companies and, if necessary, represent the worker in court. Without an attorney, workers may find it challenging to navigate the legal system and could potentially miss out on the full compensation they are entitled to.

7. Conclusion

FELA attorneys play a vital role in fighting for the rights of injured railroad workers. Their expertise and dedication can make the difference in securing fair compensation and holding negligent employers accountable.

Please Note: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you or a loved one has been injured while working on the railroad, please consult with our professional attorney to discuss your specific situation.