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Many railroad employees fail to understand that they are not covered by worker’s compensation until after they are injured and at a loss for what to do. Injured railroad workers are covered under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, also known as the FELA. Under this special federal legislation, a railroad worker that is injured in the workplace must prove that the railroad was negligent in providing a reasonably safe work place or the proper equipment needed to carry out the job before recovering any damages from the railroad. The FELA can be very confusing for injured workers and their families to understand. If you have suffered a severe injury while on-duty at the railroad, or if you have lost a loved one in a railroad accident, an experienced FELA Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help you get started on the road to recovery.Understanding the FELA
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act was passed by Congress in 1908 to provide railroad employees and their families with the right to seek compensation if injured or killed in a railroad accident. Under this law, railroad employees are guaranteed a safe work environment, and should they become injured while on duty, they have the right to recover compensation for lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering, and partial or permanent disability. If an employee is killed in a railroad-related incident, surviving family members are eligible to receive financial damages for the wrongful death of a loved one.
The FELA obligates railroads to provide employees with a safe work place, which means it must provide workers with safe equipment and tools. Moreover, if a railroad fails to live up to its responsibility and provide adequate safety measures, or if a railroad worker is injured through the carelessness of another employee, the railroad can be held liable for any damages the worker suffers. The FELA compensates workers who are injured because of the following:
- Negligence or Carelessness by the Railroad, other Employees, Officers or Subcontractors
- Unsafe Work Environment
- Inadequate Tools, Equipment or Appliances
- Any and all Violations related to the Safety Appliance Act, the Boiler Inspection Act, the Federal Rail Safety Act, the Federal Locomotive Safety Standards, the Power Brake Law, OSHA regulations and Hours of Service
Under the FELA, injured workers can recover damages when the railroad has violated the Safety Appliance Act and Boiler Inspection Act. Under the Safety Appliance Act, the railroad has strict liability if an incident arises from defective appliances. When this is the case, the injured worker does not have to prove any negligence in order to recover financial compensation from the railroad.
The Boiler Inspection Act requires the railroad to make sure trains and tenders are in proper working condition and safe for use. Any violation of this Act imposes strict liability on the railroad, meaning negligence does not have to be proved in order for the railroad to be held responsible for all damages.HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR RIGHTS WHEN INJURED ON THE JOB:
- Get prompt medical attention.
- Tell your doctor how you were injured and makes sure to document all of your injuries.
- Fill out an accident report. Make sure you identify the unsafe condition or equipment that caused your injury.
- Tell your co-workers and any witnesses how and where you were injured. If possible, write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone who may have witnessed your accident, and show everyone that worked with you at the time of the accident the unsafe condition that caused your injury.
- Contact a FELA Attorney at Whittel & Melton.
- Know your rights, and do NOT accept any attempt by the railroad to settle or delay your case without speaking with an attorney first.
FELA cases have a three-year statute of limitations, which means that your case must be brought within three years of the date of the injury, or your rights to compensation will be lost permanently. Occasionally, certain situations warrant exceptions to this three-year deadline. An attorney experienced in handling FELA cases can help you determine the best course of action.
A Railroad Accident & Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can make sure railroad companies are held accountable and that your rights are protected under the law. We work with investigators familiar with the railroad industry and other support staff who know railroad operations and practices inside and out. If you or a loved one is a railroad employee who has been injured on the job, contact a FELA Attorney at Whittel & Melton for a free and confidential consultation today online or call us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.
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