Petro Law Firm
For Railroad Employees
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The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S. Code Section 51-60, is a law enacted by Congress for the protection of railroad employees injured while in the course and scope of their work. The text of the law is as follows:
“Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories, or between any of the States and Territories, or between the District of Columbia and any of the States or Territories, or between the District of Columbia or any of the States or Territories and any foreign nations, shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce, or, in the case of the death of such employee, to his or her personal representative, for the benefit of the surviving widow or husband and children of such employee; and, if none, then of such employee’s parents; and, if none, then of the next of kin dependent upon such employee, for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment.
Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be in furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this chapter, be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this chapter.”
In summary, the railroad employer is liable in damages to any employee injured as a result of its negligence.
“Negligence means the failure to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the doing of something which a reasonably careful person would not, under similar circumstances.”
The railroad has a duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work and to provide reasonably safe and suitable tools and equipment to perform the work. If it does not, then it is negligent.
Additionally, railroad employers are negligent as a matter of law for Federal Safety Appliance violations.
Damages may include past and future: pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, lost wages, and lost benefits. Punitive damages are not applicable.
The employee’s damages may be reduced by his contributory negligence. This may not apply, however, in cases involving safety appliance violations.
The FELA requires that an employee settle his work related injury claim or file a lawsuit against his employer for said claim within three years of the date he knew or should have known he sustained an injury. If the employee fails to do so, then he is barred from doing so under the law. Also known as the Statute of limitations. In some circumstances, an employee may have a claim against his employer and a third party. Please note that third party claims most likely have a different statute of limitations.
Generally, State Worker’s Compensation laws do not apply to railroad employees.
The FELA is over a 100 years old. There are thousands of court citations on the FELA. Ask your Dan how the law may apply to your case.