Railroad workers often take risks every day to ensure passengers and cargo get to their destinations quickly and efficiently. A serious injury sustained while working on the railroad can have life-changing consequences. You may be unable to work or care for loved ones even as the medical bills are piling up. Or you may have lost a loved one in a fatal railroad accident.
Chad Jones Law, P.C. is proud to be a Union Designated law firm representing injured railroad workers in their claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Our Texas FELA lawyers firmly believe that injured railroad workers deserve justice, and we fight tirelessly for their legal rights. We also represent individuals hurt in other types of transportation injuries, such as railroad crossing accidents.
What is FELA?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law giving railroad employees and their families the right to sue the railroad employers for damages (financial compensation) when the worker is injured or killed on the job. In most industries, workers who are hurt on the job cannot sue their employers; rather, their injuries are covered under workers’ compensation. However, FELA provides a cause of action for damages for injuries or death caused by the negligence of railroad carriers engaging in interstate or foreign commerce.
FELA supersedes common law and state laws that cover the liability of railroads for injuries to employees who work in interstate commerce. If a railroad employee becomes injured on the job or if a family member died while working for a common carrier by railroad, they may have a claim for damages under FELA. The FELA provisions often make it easier to prove liability than in ordinary accident cases such as car accidents. If the railroad violated a safety statute or regulation, FELA reduces the burden of proof for ordinary negligence. Individuals may file a FELA case with the help of a Texas attorney in either state or federal court, and the defense cannot move the case to federal court if they choose to file in state court.
How Do FELA Cases work?
FELA applies to reasonably foreseeable injuries due to a railroad’s negligence. To establish a claim under FELA, the plaintiff must show that:
- An injury occurred while he or she was working within the scope of his or her employment with a railroad;
- The plaintiff’s employment furthered the railroad’s interstate transportation business;
- The railroad was negligent; and
- The railroad’s negligence played some role – no matter how small – in causing the plaintiff’s injury.
Employees who are injured while performing activities outside the scope of their duties cannot hold a railroad liable under FELA. Under FELA, the railroad has a duty to provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace. This is considered a non-delegable duty, which means the railroad cannot shift responsibility. However, proving that a railroad has breached this duty of care can be difficult. Some of the responsibilities that railroads must meet are:
- Provide a reasonably safe workplace that is free from unsafe conditions;
- Warn of unsafe conditions and hazards;
- Exercise reasonable care for the safety of employees;
- Provide reasonably safe tools and equipment, as well as safety devices;
- Select proper and safe methods to do work;
- Furnish enough help to get work done safely;
- Inspect the workplace for safety hazards;
- Adopt and enforce safety rules and practices;
- Provide adequate training and education;
- Provide adequate supervision;
- Fix unsafe conditions; and
- Assign workers tasks that are within their capabilities.
Negligence can be found when a rule or law has been broken, or when the railroad failed to meet a reasonable standard of care. Breaking a rule or law might include violating the Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act, or an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation. A lawyer in Texas could help a claimant prove negligence in a FELA claim.
Damages Under FELA
Injured workers in most industries are only entitled to lost wages and medical bills – the benefits they can collect through workers’ compensation. FELA gives railroad workers the right to additional compensation. This may include:
- Loss of earnings, past and future.
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses.
- Pain & suffering.
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment.
- Loss of companionship and society
The stakes are high in FELA cases, and the railroad companies often do everything they can to fight back. They have extensive resources and well-paid attorneys on their side. That’s why injured workers deserve their own legal advocates in Texas to even the odds in FELA claims.
Speak with a Texas FELA Attorney
A Texas FELA lawyer from our firm could address any questions or concerns you may have if you were injured in a railroad accident. Our team is dedicated to helping you receive fair compensation for your losses. For more information about how our team could help you, call today.