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» Railroad Accidents (FELA)

Railroad Accidents (FELA)

Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA as it is commonly known, is considered one of the greatest pieces of legislation to be passed in the twentieth century. Initially enacted in 1906 and later declared unconstitutional by the United State Supreme Court, the law was officially passed by Congress in 1908. FELA was originally created in response to public out cry over the gruesome injuries and the number of fatalities railroad workers sustained while working on the railroad. Few people, railroad workers included, truly understand the amount of protection injured railroad workers have under FELA. In fact, railroad employees have more protection than any other working person in the United States under FELA law.

How does FELA protect injured railroad workers?

Prior to the establishment of the FELA, railroad workers injured or killed on the railroad were entitled to very little compensation, if anything at all. After FELA was enacted in1908, an injured railroad employee could seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses and treatment,
  • Lost wages,
  • Furture lost wages,
  • Partial or permanent disability,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • And additional losses.

FELA law applies to injured railroad workers, but in the event of the railroad employees’ death, their families can be compensated as well. Unlike Workers Compensation, FELA has to prove some negligence on the part of the railroad. That means if the railroad was even partially responsible for your injury, by law they are entitled to pay you for your injury.

Who does FELA protect?

Under the FELA all railroad employee that are injured on the railroad are entitled to protection. Including:

  • Engineers
  • Brakeman
  • Switchman
  • Other railroad employees.

It is the railroads job to provide every railroad employee a “safe place to work.” Railroads must provide safe: equipment, cars, engines, machinery, tracks, appliances and roadbeds to work on. In addition all tools must be safe as well. Failure on part of the railroad to maintain safe and hazardous free railroad working conditions makes the railroad liable if an injury occurs.

In addition, all railroad employees are covered under the FELA law if you are working for the railroad off-sight. Any employee injured while working with a third party such as working off sight for the railroad or working with a subsidiary of the railroad. Call a Designated FELA Lawyer at Farris, Riley & Pitt for more information.

How is FELA accident compensation determined? How much am I entitled too?

FELA Accident Compensation is determined by three things:

  1. Seriousness of the injury;
  2. Loss you have suffered; and
  3. Negligence on part of the railroad or of any railroad employee.

If you have sustained an injury from a railroad accident, you are generally entitled to monetary compensation for:

  • The seriousness and duration of your injury
  • Any disability or disfigurement resulting from the injury
  • If the injury aggravated a pre-existing condition or ailment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medial care and future medical expenses
  • Lost earnings and potential future lost earning

FELA cases are known as “comparative negligence” cases. That means the jury, or if the case settles outside of court, a fact-finder, will decide what percentage of responsibility was due to the railroad. For example, if a jury decides that the injured railroad worker has suffered $1,000,000 in damages (including pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages) and determines the railroad was 70% responsible for the conditions that caused the injury, the injured railroad employee is then entitled to $700,000 in compensation.

How long do I have to file a claim?

The injured railroad employee generally has three years from the date of the accident to file a claim, unless an exception applies. For example if you are exposed to toxic chemicals, asbestos, etc. your statue of limitations begins at the point of discovery. This is known as the statute of limitations.

Why should I use a union-designated FELA attorney?

FELA railroad accident cases are unique and unlike any other type of case. Hiring a FELA railroad lawyer that has experience handling and litigating FELA cases and trying FELA cases. If you need assistance locating an experienced FELA Railroad Attorney contact your local chairman or call us at 1-888-580-5176.

In the event of an injury, you owe it to yourself to find the best possible legal representation. A Designated Union Attorney is appointed by the union and their fee is set by the union. Union designations are extremely sought after and few attorneys ever get the opportunity to apply for a designation. For more information, call us at 205-324-1212.


At Farris, Riley & Pitt our railroad attorneys and designated counsel represent injured railroad workers involved in FELA accidents from all over the county. We have helped injured railroad workers employed by Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation, short-line railroads and Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad. If you or someone you know has been injured on the railroad, call us toll free at 1-888-580-5176 or 205-324-1212.

As Designated Union Counsel, Kirby Farris has represented clients with the following types of Injuries:

  • Cumulative Injuries
  • Chemical and asbestos exposure
  • Back & Neck Injuries
  • Burns
  • Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Loss of body limbs
  • Death

Every year the Federal Rail Administration reports there are on average 3,000 train accidents in the United States, and approximately 1,000 fatal accidents. Considering their


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