Railroad & FELA
Unlike other personal injury accidents, specific Federal laws govern railroad accidents, especially in situations where railroad employees sustain injuries or develop work-related illnesses. The experienced attorneys at Cervantes & Associates have handled many of these specialized cases in state and Federal court and have a thorough understanding of the unique governing laws.
Railroad accidents are particularly severe because of how many people typically sustain injuries in one incident. While these cases proceed in large part in the same manner as typical personal injury matters for negligent or reckless behavior, a 1997 Federal law limits the liability for mass transit companies at $200 million for all passengers, including punitive damages.
Injured Railroad Workers & FELA
In 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act ("FELA") to compensate railroad employees who sustain workplace injuries. FELA applies to any railroad that engages in interstate or foreign commerce. This includes any solely intrastate railroads that carry either goods or cars from, or to, another state or country. Employees covered under FELA include train and construction crews, maintenance workers, laborers, railroad police officers, and clerks.
Unlike traditional workers' compensation statutes, FELA allows recovery of many of the traditional tort damages, such as lost wages and future earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. However, this compensation is not automatic, and proving negligence is generally required. Additionally, FELA includes specific and complex guidelines regarding calculating damages.
The railroad and its employees have an employer-employee relationship, which means the railroad has a broader duty to keep the employees safe. It may be liable for incidents such as:
- Injuries caused by the negligence of one of the plaintiff's fellow employees
- Injuries suffered as a result of dangerous conditions where the employee is sent to work, even if the property is owned by someone other than the railroad
- Diseases and injuries, such as silicosis or hearing loss, that arise due to the railroad failing to provide a safe work environment
- Injuries an employee suffered because of a certain sensitivity or condition that the employer is aware of, which made the workplace or task dangerous to the employee
- A proven violation of either the "Safety Appliance Acts" or the "Locomotive Inspection Acts," which are Federal laws in place to set standards for maintenance and equipment on railroad cars, such as brakes
If you have been injured in a railroad accident, or if you are a railroad worker who has suffered an injury or been diagnosed with an occupational illness, hire an experienced attorney who understands the unique laws governing railroad accidents. The attorneys at Cervantes & Associates have extensive experience handling these cases. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.