Railroad workers are confronted with various potential safety hazards in their work environment. Unlike most injured workers, rail employees are not able to file for workers' compensation. Instead, rail employees are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Injured rail employees have a lot of questions about this law and their options for recovering damages. The following provides answers to those questions.
Railroad company standards
While FELA provides injured rail employees the opportunity to file legal claims, it also provides employers with a strict liability standard regarding employee safety and working conditions. The responsibilities of employers include:
- Inspecting work environments to ensure no hazards are present.
- Provide safe tools and equipment.
- Ensure employees are protected from intentional harm from others.
- Provide necessary training, assistance and supervision for employees.
- Prevent unreasonable work quotas.
Violation of these duties can result in liability under FELA.
Damages awarded vary on a case by case basis. A successful FELA claim usually results in compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages.
- Past and future suffering, pain and mental stress.
Unfortunately, railroad injuries sometimes have fatal consequences. In this case, the spouse and children of the worker will be able to seek compensation. If no spouse or child are present, close family members or surviving parents are usually compensated.
Some injured rail employees assume that attempting to settle a claim will be quicker and more affordable if they do so directly. This strategy often results in professional claim agents trying to settle for as little as possible. Hiring a personal injury attorney with understanding of FELA regulations and statutes will help avoid an unjust compensation.
Injured rail employees have three years to begin a claim. If an injury was less than three years ago, a victim still has time to seek compensation. No one should wait until the end of the statute of limitations, however. The sooner the claim is begun, the easier it is to gather evidence and witnesses to support the claim.
FELA was enacted because there was widespread recognition of the dangers and risks associated with the railroad industry. The fact that this act exists and has a reduced burden of proof should give any injured worker hope that there is a chance of adequate compensation for injuries. Railroad companies are held to a high standard for a reason. Any negligence on the part of an employer should result in consequences. It is important to seek legal representation when beginning the claim.