Railroads were once the prevailing way to get from one destination to another in the United States. With that came a lot of work for people who were building, operating and maintaining these railroads. The industry might not be as prominent in today’s world, but it still exists and there are many people who serve as a railroad employee. Like any job, it has its dangers. A workplace accident can be extremely dangerous for a railroad worker due to the size and speed of the equipment that is used. Minnesotans who are injured while working on a railroad should be aware of the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and how it protects them.
Passed in 1908, FELA protects railroad workers across the country. There is a system of legal rights that railroad workers and families receive through FELA if they are injured. The claim can be made to the employer or the railroad company or it can be brought in a lawsuit either at a state level or federal level. With FELA, there is a foundational standard of liability for working conditions and employee safety.
FELA is unique in contrast to workers’ compensation cases in that there is no need to show that the railroad, other employees, or the makers of equipment exhibited negligence that led to the injuries. FELA is meant to show that the defendant in the case allowed unsafe working conditions and the injury came about because of it.
Railroads are required to do the following under FELA: give workers a safe environment and accompanying equipment; ensure that there are no hazards with inspections; train employees properly; make certain that workers are protected from dangerous intentional behaviors from others; make certain safety rules and regulations are adhered to; and stop work quotas that are unrealistic.
In a FELA claim, the burden of proof is different from other personal injury cases as all that needs to be proven is that there was some form of negligence. Those who work on the railroad and suffer an injury might not know about FELA and all the protections it provides. This can lead to a mistake in not pursuing compensation when the injured party has a legal right to it. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in helping clients who have suffered railroad worker injuries can help with a case based on FELA.
Source: injury.findlaw.com, “Railroad Worker Injuries — FELA –Overview,” accessed on July 25, 2017