What is FELA law?

Unlike many other industries, a railroad worker faces a dangerous work environment on a day-to-day basis that is full of potential hazards. This danger is so high that in 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) as part of its effort to protect thousands of railroad workers across the nation. In addition to providing a legal basis for a railroad worker to claim injuries suffered, FELA also creates a uniform liability standard regarding acceptable working conditions for employers and railroad companies. Prior to FELA’s enactment, there was no legal remedy for railroad workers who were injured on the job.

FELA Explained

FELA continues to provide a way for railroad workers and their families to recover for injuries suffered while on the job, through the federal legal system. Virtually any injury suffered by a railroad employee in the course of his or her work is protected under FELA. This includes injuries sustained while performing primary duties that were not executed in or around actual trains. A claim under FELA may be filed directly with the employer or railroad company. The claim may also be filed as a lawsuit in state or federal court.

FELA does not just cover bodily injury suffered while working for the nation’s railroads. FELA also covers injuries suffered due to exposure to asbestos in addition to injuries resulting from repetitive stress and cumulative trauma.

FELA, Not Workers’ Compensation

While FELA’s protections for railroad workers are similar to those offered by Nevada’s workers’ compensation insurance, unlike the workers’ compensation system, FELA is a fault-based system. This means that in order for an injured railroad worker to receive FELA benefits, the harmed worker must prove that the injury was caused in whole or in part by the negligence of a railroad employee, an agent or contractor of the railroad company, or a defective piece of equipment. Also, unlike workers’ compensation claims, if railroad worker was not found to be 100% to blame for the injury, he or she may file for monetary compensation in state or federal court.

Moreover, a court-award of FELA tends to be higher than those paid out by workers’ compensation claims. This is because FELA uses the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, which allows jurors to decide the percentage of fault for which each party is liable. This percentage is used to establish how much the injured railroad worker should be awarded in monetary compensation.

Railroad Worker Injury Help

If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury while employed as a railroad worker, it is vital that you understand your right to seek monetary compensation for your injuries under FELA. The skilled attorneys at Parry & Pfau have fought to recover compensation for those injured across the state of Nevada and they can help you, too. Click here today to schedule your initial case evaluation.

(image courtesy of Jake Sloop)