Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by admin
Many people work in the railroad industry, and in turn, some receive on-the-job injuries. If you’re not familiar with FELA, there are some things you need to know. In 2020, over 3,000 railroad workers got injured on the job.
There are some direct reasons the Federal Employers’ Liability Act got enacted. It applies to any railroad employee. Keep on reading to find out more about this and if it could affect you.
What Is FELA?
FELA got created to protect railroad workers who got injured on the job. What is the Federal Employers’ Liability Act? For one, it exempts the employees from workers’ compensation issues.
Workers’ compensation laws would keep them from suing the railroad company. FELA protects them from that. Employees have the right to sue for negligence.
The act will give an employee the right to sue the employers in state or federal court. The railroad industry can be a dangerous field. FELA got enacted to give employees a legal right to recover money from injuries they got on the job.
All the employee has to do is prove that injuries got sustained due to railroad negligence. If a safety regulation got violated, Congress allows total liability. In that case, the employee doesn’t have to prove negligence.
History of FELA
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act came about in 1908. It was an attempt by Congress to reduce the number of railroad accidents.
The act also meant to instill some unity in railroad practices. The railroads didn’t have safety regulations for employees, so Congress decided to intervene. It made any railroad liable for employee damages.
It covered anything caused by negligence or safety issues. The act also covered defects to train equipment.
Who Gets Covered?
FELA covers most railroad workers, not only manual labor employees. Clerical personnel gets covered, too.
It covers more than accidents that happen on a train. Employees can get covered if they sustain injuries at a hotel that got paid for by the employer. It can even happen in a parking lot while on duty.
If you still aren’t sure if you would get covered under FELA, there are some things to consider. Sometimes it depends on the situation in which the injury occurred.
In most cases, you will get asked to show the railroad employer was negligent in some way. Some accidents happen because of operator errors. You need to prove there was negligence on the railroad’s part.
If you know you’re working in unsafe conditions that should get taken care of, that’s a good sign you’d get covered. An employer should never have you put your safety at risk to get a job done. There is no exception to that.
Training is a part of every job. Did you get the training you needed to do the job right? FELA protects people when there wasn’t appropriate education to do the work.
Did you feel rushed by the employer to get the job done? You should not get pressured to do something fast if it could become a danger to you. Sometimes a railroad can get used to the way things have always happened that they lose sight of safety.
Many laws and statutes can get confusing. If you have questions or doubts, you should seek professional counsel. You can go to felaattorney.com to get more information on FELA and how it applies to you.
Protecting Yourself With FELA
If you need the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, we have some guidelines that can help. The first thing to remember is that you need to act fast. As soon as the accident happens, you should start the FELA process.
Your direct supervisor needs to make an official report. In that documentation, it will have everything about the accident. Make sure you read over it before your sign anything.
You need to agree to anything in the report. If not, do not sign it until you speak to an attorney.
See a doctor as soon as you can. Some injuries get worse over time. You also want to show that you’re doing everything you can to help yourself.
If you have a union rep, seek some immediate advice. Most railroad employees belong to a union, and it can benefit you because they know how FELA works. It’s a good idea to talk to your attorney who has experience with FELA.
If your employer tries to make you see their doctor, you should know you don’t have to do that. You can see your doctor if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Get a doctor’s note to show you went there for that specific injury. If your physician tells you that you cannot work, don’t force yourself to go back. Stay out as long as your doctor requires.
If you can gain some evidence to support your FELA claim, that will help. Pictures go a long way, and if anyone saw the accident, that should go on record. Keep records of bills you get and lost wages due to the injury.
What Is FELA Worth?
Most people worry about how much they can get from their FELA claim. That depends on how severe the injury was and if your damages end up being permanent. Some accidents cause employees to become disabled and not able to ever return to work.
It also depends on how negligent the railroad employer had been. Small things do get missed at times. The railroad’s degree of negligence will contribute to how much you get from your FELA claim.
Settling the FELA Claim
There are different ways you can settle your FELA claim. Some employees think it’s easy to go through the railroad’s claim agent. That could be a mistake because it leaves you vulnerable to the employer.
You need an attorney to help you through the claims process. Getting a lawyer who knows about FELA will give you the best chance at getting what you deserve.
Having to file a claim is never fun, but having an experienced attorney will ease you through the process. Check out our other articles for more legal tips like these!