Railroad / FELA Claims

Congress passed the Federal Employers’ Liability Act,1 otherwise known as FELA, in 1908 in response to the high number of railroad deaths. Under FELA, railroad workers who are not covered by regular workers’ compensation laws are able to sue railroad companies for their on-the-job injuries.

FELA compensation is not awarded automatically. Unlike workers’ compensation provisions in state laws, FELA requires the injured railroader to prove that the railroad was “legally negligent” in causing the injury. After proving negligence, the injured railroader is entitled to full compensation. Such compensation includes payment for lost wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses, and for pain and suffering. As FELA allows a railroad worker to make a claim for damages which are not covered under New York State Workers’ Compensation Laws, the compensation that a railroad worker may receive under FELA may be greater than that provided by State Worker’s Compensation for non-railroaders.

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) only applies to railroads that function as common carriers. Not every railroad is a common carrier. A common carrier is defined as one who operates a railroad as a means of carrying for the public, i.e., a railroad company acting as a common carrier. A common carrier has also been defined as one who engages in the business of transportation of persons or property from place to place for compensation, offering his services to the public generally.

One who seeks to recover damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) must establish four elements. First, they must establish that the railroad is a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce. Second, they must prove that they were employed by the railroad and assigned to perform duties which furthered the railroad’s interest. Third, they must demonstrate that harm was sustained while they were employed by the common carrier. Lastly, they must prove that the harm resulted from the railroad’s negligence – a legal term for failure to take a reasonable amount of care.

The railroad’s negligence includes the negligence of other railroad employees, as long as their bad decisions were made as part of their jobs. Any careless decision could be considered negligent, including failure to provide safety equipment, bad decisions or inattention by other railroad employees, poor maintenance of trains, rails or other equipment, failure to prevent chronic repetitive stress injuries, and exposure to toxic chemicals or other dangerous substances.

Here in Albany, we have the largest railway hub of any upstate city and the country’s tenth largest passenger hub in the Albany-Rensselaer station. Like all workers, the railroad workers are entitled to a safe and hazard-free workplace. If you or a loved one was hurt at work on the railways and you believe the railroad could have prevented it with a little more care, Harding Mazzotti, LLP® can help.

To protect your right to full compensation for all of your injuries, please call the law firm of Harding Mazzotti, LLP®, at 1800LAW1010® (1-800-529-1010).