Federal Employers’ Liability Act
Recognizing the inherent dangers in railroading and the risk of bodily harm or death faced by railroad workers, Congress enacted the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60 in 1908. As a result of the enactment of FELA, railroads are charged with a non-delegable duty to provide their employees with a reasonably safe place in which to work. Despite numerous attempts to reduce, replace or eliminate FELA; Congress has refused in each and every attempt to modify or change FELA.
Railroad workers are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws. FELA affords railroad workers the ability to sue their employer for damages such as medical expenses and wage loss, as well as damages not regularly provided under state workers’ compensation laws, such as pain and suffering. FELA, again in contrast to workers’ compensation, requires the employee prove the railroad was negligent. The burden of proof necessary to present a case to a jury, however, is significantly lighter under FELA than it would be in an ordinary negligence case. The test of a FELA jury case is whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought.
Damages and remedies available under FELA are not guaranteed and are not awarded or provided automatically. In fact, railroads routinely deny FELA claims. It is extremely important that railroad employees or their family contact an experienced FELA attorney and firm, such as BEEDEM LAW, in order to gather the evidence necessary to prove the railroad’s negligence and recover what you deserve.