A Norfolk, VA Attorney Protecting Railroad Workers under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
For more than 100 years railroad workers have been protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), an act brought in after an appalling catalogue of deaths and injuries on America’s railroads.
The legislation followed a massive upsurge in railway building as well as the number of railroad workers being injured or killed, at the end of the 19th Century. Railroad use had increased six fold from 1889 to 1920 alone, but safety practices had failed to catch up.
In 1889 President Benjamin Harrison addressed the dangers in a speech to the U.S. Congress when he compared the plight of the railroad worker to those of a soldier at war:
“It is a reproach to our civilization that any class of American workmen, should in the pursuit of a necessary and useful vocation, be subjected to a peril of life and limb as great as that of a soldier in time of war,” he said.
FELA is a U.S. federal law that was enacted in 1908 to protect and compensate railroad workers injured on the job, if a worker can prove the railroad was at least partly legally negligent in causing the injury.
The legislation was based upon the federal government’s power over interstate commerce, as granted in the Constitution. Before it was enacted there was no remedy for injured railroad workers.
See this video of a CSX derailment.
Although the FELA has been compared to worker’s compensation insurance provided in other industries, unlike workers’ compensation, FELA is a fault based system dependant on the negligence of a railroad employee, its agent or contractor, or linked to a faulty piece of equipment.
As an experienced Norfolk, Virginia, based FELA attorney I have represented many victims who have been injured on railroads.
Virginia has numerous railroads operating into hubs such as Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA. Railroad operators include CSX, Norfolk Southern and Amtrak. These are big players in the railroad industry and their safety record is dubious at best.
It’s worth taking the time to find an experienced Virginia (VA) FELA attorney because FELA awards are usually much higher than those of workers’ compensation claims. FELA uses the legal doctrine of “comparative negligence”. In other words a jury determines the percentage of negligence for which each party is liable, thereby establishing the percentage of the award to be allocated to the worker.
FELA covers a wide number of injuries. The highest profile cases involve serious injuries or fatalities to workers. In Ohio, for example in 2011,
But FELA is not just about bodily injuries. It also covers injuries due to asbestos exposure or exposure to diesel fumes, as well as cumulative trauma injuries and repetitive strain injury.
Railroad workers may have additional rights and benefits as outlined by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), a series of federal laws passed by Congress in 1908 to improve railroad safety and provide substantial compensation for injured railroad workers and their families. FELA allows recovery for injury or death caused by:
FELA claims can be brought for a variety of reasons including wrongful death, cases of mesothelioma, asbestosis, silicosis, lung cancer or Parkinson’s injury, and catastrophic injury. A recent wrongful death involved CSX conductor Dennis A. Hemme, 59, who died when he was crushed to death in a mainline shove.
Under FELA railroad employees who can no longer work because of their injuries or conditions contracted while on the railway are entitled to recover for damages for loss of wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and anxiety or past and future medical expenses related to the injury stated in the claim. In a wrongful death case, damages can be sought by the legal spouse, children, parents or other dependant beneficiaries.
The Norfolk based personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles car, truck, and motorcycle injuries. John Cooper and Jim Hurley have over 40 years of combined experience in handling auto injury accident claims. Attorney John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout VA, and always put the best interests of the our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us (757) 455 -0077. For a free consultation with a specialized Hampton Roads, Virginia personal injury lawyer contact us through this website.