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FELA and Railroad Workers' Rights Explained

Have you been injured while working on a railroad? Railroading is a demanding and often dangerous profession. If you have been hurt on the job, you may be wondering what options you have for compensation. The good news is that railroad workers have specific rights protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

Here at Connor Marr and Pinksi, we want you to be as informed as possible. We have put together this comprehensive guide that will help you understand what FELA is, how it applies to railroad workers, and what your rights are if you have been injured. 

If you have any questions or need legal representation after a railroad injury, do not hesitate to contact our experienced team at (406) 727-3550.

What is FELA?

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law enacted in 1908 to protect railroad workers from injuries sustained due to their employer's negligence. Unlike most workers' compensation laws, FELA allows injured railroad workers to sue their employers directly in court to recover damages.

When Does FELA Apply?

FELA applies to most railroad employees, including:

  • Train conductors and engineers
  • Yard workers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Track workers
  • Signalers

For an injury to be covered under FELA, it must have occurred while the worker was performing their job duties and negligence on the part of the railroad must have contributed to the injury.

Worker Rights Under FELA

Under FELA, railroad workers have the right to pursue compensation for damages if they can prove their employer's negligence played a role in their injury. This can include accidents from slips and falls to train derailment. This compensation can include:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity

Do Your Injuries Qualify?

Determining whether your specific injury qualifies under FELA can be complex. Railroad workers consistently rank as one of the most dangerous professions, producing thousands of work-related injuries every year. In fact, in the last 2 years, injuries in this field have increased by 6%.

 Some common railroad injuries covered by FELA include:

  • Back injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Amputations
  • Head injuries
  • Chemical burns

This is not an exhaustive list, and the specific details of your case will be crucial. If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to determine what kind of compensation you can expect from a potential lawsuit.

What if You Are Denied Coverage After a Railroad Injury?

If you have been injured on the job and the railroad denies you coverage, you do not have to give up. You should never be responsible for covering injuries or damages caused by another person or group’s negligence. 

An experienced FELA lawyer can help you understand your rights, investigate your case, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

How Can the Right Attorney Help?

In a railroad accident case, the right attorney can be a crucial advocate in securing the compensation you deserve. Here's how:

Investigating the Cause of the Accident:

  • Expertise in Railroad Regulations: Railroad accidents are complex, and often involve violations of safety regulations. An attorney experienced in FELA (Federal Employers' Liability Act) will know how to investigate the accident scene, gather evidence, and identify potential causes like faulty equipment, improper maintenance, or crew negligence.
  • Preserving Evidence:  Acting quickly to secure witness statements, train logs, and black box data from the locomotive is essential.  An attorney can ensure this evidence is collected and preserved properly to support your case.

Determining Liability:

  • Understanding FELA:  FELA places a lower burden of proof on railroad workers compared to traditional workers' compensation. Your attorney will explain how FELA applies to your situation and help demonstrate that the railroad's negligence even partially contributed to your injury.
  • Shared Fault Laws:  Some states have shared fault laws that can reduce your compensation award if you're found partially at fault for the accident.  Your attorney will fight to minimize any blame placed on you and maximize the railroad's responsibility.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement:

  • Understanding Railroad Claim Process:  Negotiating with railroad companies and their insurance providers is a complex process. An attorney will handle these negotiations on your behalf, advocating for a settlement that reflects the full extent of your damages.
  • Knowing Your Worth:  Railroad injuries can be catastrophic, leading to significant medical bills, lost wages, and long-term disabilities. Your attorney will assess your current and future needs to ensure the settlement covers all your losses.

Going to Trial:

  • Trial Experience:  If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial. They have the experience and courtroom skills necessary to effectively present your case to a judge or jury.
  • Protecting Your Rights: Throughout the legal process, your attorney will ensure your rights are protected. They will handle all communication with the railroad company and their representatives, freeing you to focus on your recovery.

Overall, the right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your railroad accident case. They can provide invaluable guidance, support, and aggressive representation to help you secure the compensation you deserve after a life-altering event.

Connor Marr and Pinski Attorneys at Law

The attorneys at Connor Marr and Pinksi Attorneys at Law have a proven track record of success in handling FELA claims. We understand the complexities of railroad injury law and are dedicated to protecting the rights of railroad workers in Montana. 

If you have been injured on the job, we can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact Connor Marr and Pinksi Attorneys at Law today for a free consultation. Call us at (406) 727-3550 or visit our website to learn more.

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