Railroad Work Injuries (Federal Employers’ Liability Act claims)
Railroad yards, rail lines and trains create special hazards that expose workers to a high risk of serious and permanent injuries and even death.
For more than 100 years, railroad workers have been able to rely on the special protections given to them under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (also known as “FELA”).
FELA claims and lawsuits are not limited to persons who work on or around trains. Almost any worker, even those employed by private and independent contractors, who are hurt while working on railroad property can bring a FELA claim.
Unlike other occupations, railroad workers can bring FELA claims directly against their own employer. Contact attorney Tim Higgins at Lemire, Johnson & Higgins, LLC at 899-5700 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The call and consultation are free. There is no attorney’s fee unless LJ&H recovers money for you.
FELA claims can usually be brought in either state (New York) or federal court.
FELA requires railroad companies and employers to provide workers certain protections mandated under the law; including a reasonably safe place to work, equipment and safety devices that are in good working order, and the training, instruction and assistance needed to perform the assigned work.
FELA claims are different from worker’s compensation claims. Worker’s compensation is a “no fault” system; the payment of benefits does not require the worker to show that the employer was negligent.
Under FELA, there must be evidence that the defendant (such as the railroad or a co-worker) was negligent in a way that contributed to cause the worker’s injuries and damages.
But unlike most other personal injury claims, even a minimal showing of negligence by the defendant can establish a successful FELA claim. This so-called “burden of proof” is much less than what would be needed to win a personal injury claim after a car accident or slip-and-fall.
In some FELA cases, a defendant’s failure to comply with an OSHA standard (which then led to the worker’s injury) can be enough to establish negligence and entitles the plaintiff to recover his or her damages.
Defenses to FELA claims usually focus on what the injured worker may have done wrong. But this claim of “comparative negligence”, even if supported by the evidence, does not mean the plaintiff cannot make any recovery. At worst, the damages for which the injured worker should be compensated will be reduced by the worker’s percentage of fault.
Many FELA claims and lawsuits never go to trial. Settlements are encouraged by the court through mediation and settlement conferences.
An immediate and complete investigation of a possible FELA claim is often the difference between winning and losing your case. Witness statements, photographs, and other evidence must be collected as soon as possible.
If you’ve been hurt, don’t waste precious time. Contact attorney Tim Higgins at Lemire, Johnson & Higgins, LLC at 899-5700 or email@example.com. The call and consultation are free. There is no attorney’s fee unless LJ&H recovers money for you.