Unlike the majority of workers in the United States, railroad employees are not protected under State or Federal worker’s compensation statutes. When a railroad employee is injured or killed during the scope of his or her employment with the railroad, the injured employee or their survivor must seek their remedy under the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA). Under the FELA, an injured railroad worker must prove negligence on the part of the employer in order to recover damages. A railroad employee who is injured will not recover damages unless negligence is established. Therefore, the question to ask following any railroad accident is, “Did the railroad do anything wrong?”
The FELA places a duty upon the railroad employer to use reasonable care to furnish its employees with a safe place to work. As part of this duty, an employer must maintain, inspect and test to discover dangers in places where employees work. Although the Courts have held that a railroad employer is not an insurer of an employee’s safety, they are responsible for an employee’s injuries if the railroad was negligent and that negligence played any part, even in the slightest, in producing employees’ injuries. If an injured employee was at fault for causing his or her own injury, the negligence of the employee may be used by the railroad to reduce the total amount of damages by an amount equal to the percentage of fault attributed to the injured worker.
The FELA is a specialized employee safety statute that provides the railroad worker with safeguards and remedies to protect their rights. However, it must be remembered that it is not a worker compensation statute and that the railroad employer must be shown to be negligent in order for the injured worker to recover.
The Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) is a statute enacted to protect workers who report injuries or unsafe conditions. This law provides certain protections from company harassment and retaliation for reporting claims.
If you are injured on the railroad, you should contact our office immediately. We are familiar with the policies and practices of the nation’s railroads and can provide you with valuable advice. Please click here or dial 1-877-SKANTOR