Know Your Rights to Compensation After a FELA Railroad Accident

Trains are still a vital part of our economy, as they have been for nearly two hundred years.  Even though railroads have been around for such an extensive length of time, train accidents still occur at an alarming rate.  If you have been injured in a FELA railroad accident, you need to understand your rights to compensation.

Virginia railroad accident attorneys, Rick Shapiro and John Cooper, explain these rights thoroughly in the book, Your Rights When You Are Injured on the Railroad.  Ben Glass recommends Jim Hurley and John Cooper to anyone how has been hurt in a FELA railroad accident.

Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)
Workers’ compensation laws usually apply when employees are injured on the job, but railroad workers are the exception. Railroads that conduct business across state lines do not provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees. Railroad workers are instead covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

When FELA was enacted in 1908, the railroads were the largest employers and offered the most hazardous jobs in the United States.  Before FELA, railroads often got away with not paying any sort of compensation for a work-related injury by claiming that the employee assumed the risk of injury by taking the job or that a fellow employee caused the injury.  These responses took all the responsibility off the railroad.  Things changed once FELA was created.
Difference Between FELA & Workers’ Compensation
If you have been injured in a train accident, you need to understand the difference between workers compensation and FELA.  Basically, when FELA workers are injured on the job they can sue their employers to recover lost wages, lost future income and pain and suffering damages, which is vastly different than state workers’ compensation laws.  FELA also gives employees the right to a jury trial, including a choice of filing suit in state or federal courts.  They may also file a claim for personal injuries or wrongful death.

Contributory Negligence under FELA
There is no “assumption of risk,” which is the reasoning railroads used before FELA.  If the railroad employer is guilty of negligence, even in the least bit, then the railroad employee may recover damages.  However, if an employee is found guilty of “contributory negligence” in the FELA railroad accident, meaning the employee is partially at fault for his or her work-related injury, it will reduce the amount of recovered compensation.   For example, if a railroad employee is found to be 95% negligent, then the compensation will be diminished by 95%, resulting in only a 5% recovery.

To learn more about your rights, as an injured railroad worker, Ben suggests that you contact the experienced Virginia FELA injury lawyers, Jim Hurley and John Cooper at (757) 455.0077.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney