Railroad Accidents and the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)
Almost all private Pennsylvania employees who are hurt in an accident at work are covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”). If private employees are injured on the job or contract an occupational illness, they are generally eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover various expenses associated with their injuries. Railroad workers, however, are not covered under the Act. They are instead covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) of 1908.
FELA vs. Workers’ Compensation
FELA differs from state workers’ compensation in that it makes compensation contingent upon the railroad worker being able to show that their employer’s negligence caused their injuries, at least in part. In other words, whereas the state workers’ compensation system is no-fault, FELA claims are based on negligence. This generally makes it more challenging to prevail on FELA claims than on state workers’ compensation claims. The experienced work injury lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. are skilled in handling FELA lawsuits and fighting to get workers who were injured in railroad accidents the compensation they deserve.
Employer Duties Under FELA
Under FELA, employers are required to provide railroad workers with a safe work environment, properly working tools and equipment, and adequate training. Employers must also adhere to and enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) safety rules and regulations. Failure to uphold these duties or abide by other federal regulations may subject railroad employers to liability for any accidents that occur as a result of their negligence.
Common Railroad Injuries
FELA covers many types of railroad injuries and illnesses. Some common events that have resulted in FELA claims include:
Traumatic injuries: Railroad workers, especially brake, signal, and switch operators, are at risk of sustaining catastrophic injuries. Coupling accidents, train car collisions, and other malfunctions can result in serious, even fatal traumatic injuries.
Cumulative trauma injuries: Certain injuries develop over time. Railroad workers perform hard physical labor for many hours a day and may suffer from repetitive stress injuries such as back pain, knee injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Aggravation of pre-existing condition: Just because a railroad worker had a pre-existing condition does not mean they are excluded from recovery. Under FELA, employees with pre-existing conditions can still recover compensation if they can show that their pre-existing condition was aggravated by the job.
Occupational diseases: Railroad workers are constantly exposed to high levels of noise and are therefore susceptible to hearing loss. They are also often exposed to carcinogens such as benzene, which is associated with leukemia.
Statute of Limitations
Under FELA, railroad workers must bring their claim within three years from the date of the injury. Those who contracted an occupational illness such as hearing loss or leukemia must bring suit within three years from the date they learned of their illness. It is important for railroad workers to meet all the deadlines when filing FELA claims or they may lose their right to recovery. The experienced work injury lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. can help ensure that you meet all deadlines and requirements for your FELA claim.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Injured in Railroad Accidents
If you were injured in a railroad accident, contact a Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys have been helping injured workers for over three decades. Under FELA, you may be entitled to medical and wage loss compensation in addition to pain and suffering and other damages. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form. We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania.