Working for a railroad is a dangerous job. Besides being a dangerous job, most railroad workers are not entitled to receive workers compensation when they get hurt on the job. That is why the United States Congress, in 1908, created a law to protect all railroad workers when they get injured on the job and protect their families if the worker gets killed. This law is called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
The FELA requires railroads to provide their employees with a “safe place to work.” Providing a safe place to work means safe cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track and roadbed to work on. It also means providing safe equipment, tools, and ergonomically safe working conditions. If the railroad fails to take any of these safety precautions for its workers, or if the worker is injured or killed through the carelessness of any officer, agent or employee of the railroad, the railroad is held responsible under the FELA. Even if the injured railroad worker is partially or primarily at fault for causing his own injuries, he is still entitled to recover damages under the FELA.
A railroad is in violation of the FELA and must pay damages for injury or death at work if the railroad’s negligence played any part, no matter how small, in causing the injury or death. The damages allowed under the FELA include compensation for future medical expenses (the railroad also pays for all past medical expenses), past and future wage and benefit losses (in some cases, up until retirement age), past and future pain and suffering, and past and future disability, or “loss of a normal life.”
If a railroad worker is killed on the job, the worker’s family can recover compensation for the loss of past and future earnings, benefits, goods and services that the worker was likely to have contributed to the household had the death not occurred, as well as the care, attention, instruction, training, advice and guidance which the worker was likely to have given his children. Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Higgins explains more specifics on FELA in our video:
If You Are A Railroad Worker Injured on The Job
1. Notify your supervisor immediately.
2. Fill out a detailed accident report. The report should state all possible causes of your injury, all injured body parts affected, and should name any witnesses to your railroad accident. Keep a copy of the report and/or a list of the witnesses.
3. Seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Tell the doctor or nurse how the railroad accident happened and provide details about all of your injuries.
4. Contact your railroad accident attorney or a Union Representative and/or your attorney to protect your legal rights.