Helping Railroad Workers Recover Compensation Through FELA

Railroad workers have a dangerous job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), their fatality rate is approximately twice as high as that of the average American worker. Brake, signal and switch operators are at particularly high risk of sustaining catastrophic injuries and even death.

Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) of 1908, railroads must provide employees with a safe place to work, meaning that:

  • The work environment should be free from hazards
  • Tools, equipment, and vehicles should be in proper working condition
  • Workers should be adequately trained
  • Safety rules and regulations should be implemented and enforced

Railroads that fail to uphold these duties under FELA may be subject to liability for their employees’ injuries in the event of a railroad accident. If you were injured while working for a railroad company, the skilled work injury lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. can help you with your FELA claim.

Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)

At a time when railroad use in the U.S. was increasing exponentially, Congress passed FELA to protect vulnerable railroad workers. During that time, it was considered extremely dangerous to be a railroad worker due to the lack of safety controls in the work environment. FELA was designed to encourage railroads to improve workplace safety in order to avoid paying out large awards to injured employees.

Employer Liability

Under FELA, railroad companies must ensure that their workers have reasonably safe work environments, free from hazards. They are also required to train, supervise and assist employees and to enforce safety rules and regulations such as those imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers who fail to uphold these duties may be liable under FELA for injuries their workers sustained while on the job.

Proving Railroad Negligence

Individuals who bring general workers’ compensation claims do not have to show negligence on the part of their employer in order to qualify for benefits. Conversely, those bringing FELA claims must show that the railroad’s negligence caused their injury. However, this is a fairly lenient standard (known as a “featherweight” burden of proof), only requiring the worker to show that the railroad negligently contributed in even the slightest way to his or her injuries. Railroad workers can meet this burden of proof in several ways including showing that the railroad:

  • Failed to create and enforce workplace safety rules
  • Required workers to work long hours, under demanding time constraints, or without adequate manpower
  • Failed to provide adequate training, safety equipment, or supervision

Comparative Negligence

Railroad workers who were partly at fault for their injuries are not barred from recovery under FELA, but they will be partly liable for their damages. Under the comparative negligence theory, injured workers may be held liable for their percentage of fault for the accident. Therefore, if a worker is entitled to $100,000 for their injuries but the court finds that they were 25 percent at fault, the worker will only be able to recover $75,000.

Damage Awards Under FELA

Workers’ compensation benefits are somewhat limited in scope. The Act only provides medical, wage lossvocational rehabilitationspecific loss, and death benefits. FELA also provides those forms of compensation in addition to pain and suffering and mental distress. There are no limits on the amount railroad workers can recover under FELA, however, claims must be filed within three years of either the date of injury or the date the worker became aware of their occupational illness.

Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Railroad Workers in FELA Claims

As a railroad worker, you face many occupational dangers. If you were injured in a work-related accident or contracted an occupational illness, contact a Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We have been representing Pennsylvania employees for more than 40 years and are experienced in handling FELA claims. We represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.

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Coronavirus Update

At Larry Pitt and Associates the safety and well-being of our clients ranks as our highest priority. Our caring and compassionate staff is always here to assist you.  

As we all battle to contain the Coronavirus, the State Government has mandated that all non-essential businesses operate remotely.  We want to assure you that we will continue to fight for you!  If you currently have an appointment or were considering scheduling one, we are happy to arrange a telephonic consultation to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please call us at 1-888 -Pitt -Law or 215-546-0011 to schedule a virtual meeting.  

We take pride in what we do and for over 40 years we have weathered many storms and have been committed to our clients. Today is no different and we will continue to provide you with exceptional business practices!

We ask that you stay safe and do not delay in contacting us if you or a loved one is suffering from a work-related illness or injury.

Larry Pitt