Train Accidents and the Federal Employer Liability Act
RAILWAYS ARE VITAL LINKS ACROSS OUR COUNTRY, WHETHER TRANSPORTING MACHINERY AND OTHER GOODS OR FAMILIES ON SCENIC VACATIONS.
However, jobs in the railroad industry can be dangerous, as there is potential for serious injury. Due to the large size and speed of trains, accidents often result in massive destruction, injuries and loss of life for both passengers and employees. For example, eight people were killed and dozens more were critically injured when Amtrak Train 188 derailed in Philadelphia in 2015.
If you are a railroad employee who has been injured on the job or exposed to dangerous solvents, there is a specific federal law providing you with protection: the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Enacted in 1906 due to the high number of railroad deaths in the late 19th century and early 20th century, FELA’s protections are as important today as they were a century ago.
FELA provides for compensation for railroad workers injured on the job, but its coverage is different from traditional workers’ compensation plans. If you or a loved one has suffered harm from railroad job injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.
What the Federal Employer Liability Act Says
The Federal Employers Liability Act protects the rights of railroad workers injured on the job when those injuries resulted from the negligence of the railroad or any of its agents.
Whether you will receive compensation and the amount of it depends on the factors involved in the incident. These include:
- Whether you will be able to return to work with the railroad
- Whether there was negligence by the railroad and/or its agents
- Whether your actions contributed to the accident
- The seriousness of the injury
- The length and extent of needed medical treatment and rehabilitation
- Your lost wages
- Whether the injury results in permanent disability.
Differences From Regular Workers’ Compensation
Under traditional workers’ compensation policies, a worker only has to be injured on the job to receive compensation.
Under FELA, workers do not have to be injured while working on or near a train or railroad. Workers in any job that is related to the railroad industry can make a claim if they can show that they were injured as part of the job. However, the worker has to be able to prove that the employer was liable for the injury because it failed to follow through with required responsibilities.
Examples of employer failure include:
- Failure to inspect workplaces to ensure they are free of unnecessary hazards
- Failure to provide sufficient training and safety equipment
- Failure to inspect equipment regularly and rectify situations such as malfunctioning or absent lights, signals, or gates at crossings
- Failure to ensure safety regulations are followed
- Improper maintenance of train tracks.
If accidents that result in injuries occur and employers are found to have not met their responsibilities, injured employees should be entitled to compensation. Depending on the circumstances, injured workers may be able to recover not only lost wages under FELA, but may also receive compensation for past, present and future pain and suffering and loss of life’s pleasures.
If you are a railroad industry employee and have been injured due to employer fault, you should seek the help of an experienced attorney to examine the possibilities of a claim and ensure that your rights are protected. A qualified attorney can assist you in securing the compensation to which you are entitled, including wage loss, future wage loss, medical expenses and treatments, pain and suffering, and for partial or permanent disability.
Contact an Attorney at Our Firm
If you or your loved one has suffered harm from your employer’s negligence or irresponsibility in a work-related railroad incident, your next step should be to consult our attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters.
Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.