Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)
Railroad workers are subject to dangerous work environments rife with hazards that can cause serious injuries. Because they are federal employees, these workers are not covered under state Workers’ Compensation laws that prohibit employees from pursuing personal injury claims for injuries suffered on the job. However, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) of 1908 allows railroad workers to recover compensation for occupational injuries caused by negligence on the part of the railroad. The Philadelphia FELA lawyers at Williams Cedar LLC are experienced in proving the causes of railroad accidents and litigating complex FELA lawsuits.
Compensation in these cases is governed by a number of factors, including:
- Ability to return to work with the railroad
- Degree of negligence by the railroad and/or its agents
- Degree of personal responsibility (carelessness on the part of the injured employee) for the accident
- Seriousness of the injury
- Length and extent of medical treatment/rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Permanence of injury / disability
Railroad Companies’ Duties Under FELA
Under FELA, railroad companies have a duty to provide workers with a reasonably safe work environment, tools and equipment. They must ensure that the workplace is free of hazards and that workers are safe from intentionally harmful acts of others. Railroad companies also have a duty to provide adequate training, supervision and assistance to employees and to enforce safety rules and regulations. If they violate these duties, railroad companies may be liable under FELA.
Injured railroad workers must show that their employer’s negligence led to their injury. FELA claims are different than typical no-fault Workers’ Compensation claims, which do not require proof of employer negligence for an injured employee to recover. Engineers, brakemen, switch-men and other railroad employees must show that the railroad, its employees, equipment manufacturers or other defendants failed to provide them with a reasonably safe place to work and they were injured as a result.
The Philadelphia FELA lawyers at Williams Cedar LLC are experienced in handling all aspects of FELA lawsuits, including hiring expert consultants and proving liability for train accidents and other types of malfunctions. Railroad companies that do not comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations or any other federal regulations may be liable for any consequential injuries suffered by an employee, including traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, occupational diseases and aggravation of preexisting injuries.
Injuries Covered by FELA
- Traumatic injuries: This includes disfigurement, loss of limbs, injured muscles, herniated discs, crush injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), burn injuries, electrocution, herniated discs and other back, knee and shoulder injuries.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries: Repetitive tasks can cause injuries such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve running from the forearm to the palm of the hand and can cause numbness or weakness.
- Occupational Diseases: Railroad workers are often exposed to dangerously high levels of noise. If they are not provided with appropriate safety gear, they may suffer hearing loss, a common injury in the industry. They may have also been exposed to carcinogens like benzene, a constituent of diesel fuel strongly associated with leukemia.
- Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions: Employees who had pre-existing injuries may be able to recover under FELA if they can show that their injuries were exacerbated on the job.
Statute of Limitations for FELA Claims
The statute of limitations for bringing a FELA claim is three years from the date of injury. For occupational injuries such as hearing loss or cancer, you have three years from the date when you learned of the injury to file suit. It is important to comply with all statutory deadlines, so that your claim is not barred, and you are not denied compensation.
Philadelphia FELA Lawyers at Williams Cedar LLC Fight for Compensation for Injured Railroad Workers
If you suffered an occupational injury while working for a railroad company, contact an experienced Philadelphia FELA lawyer at Williams Cedar LLC. Our experienced attorneys are skilled in handling FELA lawsuits and will fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. From our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, South Jersey, and nationwide. Contact us online or call us at 215-557-0099 or at 856-470-9777 for a free consultation.
“The potential for serious injury exists in the maritime and the rail industries, and yet most accidents are the result of very mundane, seemingly minor incidents. Even a blown fuse, for instance, could cause a train crash.”