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FELA is the Railroad Worker’s Friend

FELA stands for the Federal Employers Liability Act, which was specifically designed to regulate the occupational safety of people who work on railroads. These include any employee of a railroad company that transports goods or people from state to state. It also includes contractors who are injured while doing work for an eligible railroad company.

Few people are aware of the safety and health issues railroad workers have to face, but in 1906, when the boom in the railroad industry also meant sharp increases in the incidence of injuries and workplace accidents among workers, the federal government took notice. This was when FELA was conceived, and in 1908 the proposal was enacted into law.

Common Injuries for Railroad Workers

FELA is not workers’ compensation, but may augment it or make up for its deficiencies. FELA covers injuries that may not be covered under workers’ compensation plans, such as cumulative injuries due to repetitive movement and whole body vibration. However, FELA is based on the notion of negligence; a claimant will have to prove negligence on the part of an employer, manufacturer or co-worker in order to file for and claim compensation for work-related injuries. Under workers’ compensation, a worker need only prove that the injury is work-related.

Common injuries that fall under FELA include (but are not limited to):

  • Back injuries
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Neck and spinal cord injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Joint damage

In order for a claimant (whether the victim or a family member of a worker who died on the job) to file a personal injury claim under FELA, he or she may use the following as a basis for the claim:

  • Collision, derailment or other impact accidents
  • Exposure to toxic fumes (i.e. diesel)
  • Use of heavy machinery
  • Carrying of heavy loads
  • Defective or faulty equipment

To be sure that a case has merit, it is a good idea to consult with a Louisville personal injury attorney who has extensive experience and knowledge of FELA cases. Proving negligence will not be easy without legal counsel. Lawyers are trained to help people through these exact situations, while the average person has very little idea what the best course of action might be.

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