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The Federal Employers Liability Act and railroad workers

Over a century ago, in 1908, Congress passed a law called the Federal Employers Liability Act. It was enacted to help railroad employees take legal action for injuries resulting from their work. While railroad work has gotten safer over the years, FELA still helps these employees and their families seek compensation and hold responsible parties accountable for on-the-job injuries. This applies even for railroad employees who don't work on or around trains.

These claims can be made in state or federal court or directly with the railroad company or other employer. Under FELA, plaintiffs have only what is called a "featherweight" burden of proof, which is less than in many other negligence claims. They must show that the defendant was in some way negligent, even if that negligence played only a small role in the injury suffered. However, defendants in FELA cases may attempt to limit their liability by showing that the worker's negligence or actions at least in part contributed to the injury.

Like other employers, railroad companies have an obligation to provide their employees with the safest possible working environment. FELA outlines specific responsibilities, including:

-- Providing adequate training and supervision-- Providing necessary tools, equipment and safety devices-- Preventing unreasonable work quotas-- Conducting regular inspections to prevent hazards-- Enforcing safety regulations

If you believe that you have a FELA claim, an Illinois attorney can help you navigate the system. You may be able to obtain compensation for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages. Surviving family members of railroad workers killed on the job may also be entitled to compensation.

Source: FindLaw, "Railroad Worker Injuries / FELA - Overview," accessed April 08, 2016

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