FELA / Railroad Workers

RR WheelsUnlike workers in most other industries, railroad workers are generally not covered by state workers compensation laws. Instead, their exclusive remedy for an on the job injury or accident is the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).  As its name suggests, the FELA is a claim based on federal, not state law.

Enacted by Congress in 1908, the FELA was "designed to put on the railroad some of the cost for the legs, eyes, arms, and lives which it consumed in its operations." The FELA specifically allows current and former railroad workers to file a claim or lawsuit against their employer to recover damages for injuries sustained while working for the railroad.  However, unlike workers compensation which is a no fault system, under the FELA the injured worker must actually prove that his injury resulted "in whole or in part" from the negligence of the railroad.  In addition, there are also several other legal requirements that make these claims different from regular personal injury claims filed under state law.

One important distinction is the "statute of limitations" or time period in which a claim must be filed or it may be barred.  While many states impose a one or two period from the date of injury by which time the suiPicture1t must be filed, under the FELA an injured railroad worker must file his claim or lawsuit within three years from the date he knew that the was injured and the that his injury is related to his work.  Another difference is that the FELA removes from the railroad many defenses allowed under state laws such as assumption of the risk of employment and contributory negligence as a bar to recovery.  Under the FELA, an injured railroad worker is entitled to recover damages from the railroad even his own negligence contributed to the accident, provided of course that the railroad was negligent as well.  The FELA also allows for strict liability in certain cases if the railroad violated a statute enacted for worker safety.

original (10)While many attorneys claim to handle FELA cases, few attorneys have actually represented an injured railroad worker--even fewer have actually tried a FELA case.  While railroad workers may suffer injuries similar to those suffered by other workers (e.g., back injuries, amputations, etc.) the law and damages recoverable can be completely different from state law personal injury claims.  As a result, the FELA can be a minefield of legal issues and traps for lawyers and their clients who are not intricately familiar with the FELA.  Railroads employ claims agents and defense attorneys who are experienced in handling FELA cases--shouldn't you?  Our firm has years of experience in this area and our attorneys have tried numerous FELA cases to verdict and through appeal.

For more information regarding specific claims under the FELA, click on the links below:

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SAMMONS & BERRY, P.C., represents injured railroad workers and their families in cases ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  Our lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals are experienced in evaluating, investigating, negotiating and trying these difficult cases.  If you believe you or family member were injured or killed while working for a railroad – call or email us for a FREE case evaluation.  Our team of experienced attorneys will review the facts in your case and answer any questions you may have.