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The Safety Appliance Act in Railroad Accident Cases

Since they were first introduced, railroads have been dangerous places for workers, leading to the passage of the Safety Appliance Act to protect them against faulty equipment. If you or a loved one were injured on a train due to violations of the SAA, Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can help you file a FELA claim to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more.

As the United States grew, so did its railroad industry—and the number of railroad workers hurt and killed in it. The high rate of injuries and deaths among rail workers prompted the passage of the Safety Appliance Act. It requires railroad companies to properly maintain parts and equipment, such as train cars, brakes, couplers, and other components, so they don’t increase the risk of worker accidents.

If you were hurt while working for a railroad, you could seek compensation if the company did not adequately maintain its equipment. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers is here to help you navigate the law surrounding railroad workplace injuries. Let us put our extensive experience handling these claims to work for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What Is the Safety Appliance Act?

As the railroad system expanded, the policymakers and the public became increasingly aware of the sharp rise in injuries and deaths among railroad workers. Between 1883 and 1892, there were 5,623 railroad deaths and 20,445 railroad injuries.

Congress passed the Safety Appliance Act, or SAA, in 1893. It resolved the problem of contravening state laws by making railroad safety a federal issue even though rail workers are not federal employees. 

The law requires railroad companies to install and maintain safe equipment that meets federal standards to reduce railroad accidents. Failing to adhere to SAA standards exposes companies to liability. Since its passing, there have been several amendments to the SAA to keep up technological development in the railroad industry.

What Is Covered Under the Safety Appliance Act?

Various pieces of equipment commonly used on railroads and trains are covered under SAA legislation, including:

  • Ladders
  • Running boards 
  • Functioning air brakes
  • Wheels
  • Automatic couplers 
  • Sill steps
  • Handholds or grab irons
  • Drawbars

Our skilled legal team of railroad injury attorneys can help if you suffer a railroad workplace injury caused by faulty equipment. Do not wait to take legal action.

How the Safety Appliance Act May Impact Your Case

When railroad workers are injured, they normally do not file a no-fault workers’ compensation claim to secure benefits. Instead, they file a claim based on the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA, which is specific to railroad workers and requires proving negligence. 

Rail workers can pursue more comprehensive damages via this route than by filing a workers’ compensation claim. Rail workers can pursue compensation for lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering, and more through a FELA claim.

If an SAA violation led to your injury, it can substantially impact your FELA claim. In particular, you will not have to prove negligence when the railroad company is responsible for your injury due to defective equipment under the SAA. A violation is sufficient. This is similar to cases based on violations of the Locomotive Inspections Act.

For both regulations, the locomotive in question must have been in use at the time of injury. This means it generally can’t have been down for inspection, maintenance, or out of service. Remember, if you can, it is important to document any evidence of SAA violations with photos or videos to help your case.

How Can Our Railroad Accident Attorneys Help?

If you’ve been hurt due to a railroad company’s negligence or defective equipment, contact the FELA personal injury attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. We will help you through the legal claims process to seek compensation, including by:

  • Making sure you know your full legal rights and options
  • Conducting a thorough, independent investigation of your accident
  • Gathering evidence to substantiate your case
  • Calculating your full and fair compensation
  • Filing your claim before deadlines pass
  • Negotiating with the at-fault party and their insurer
  • Taking your case to court if a fair settlement cannot be reached

At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we have the experience, knowledge, and resources needed to handle your FELA claim from start to finish. Our railroad accident lawyers understand the tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying the compensation injury victims deserve. We will push back and make sure you are not taken advantage of.

To learn more about railroad accident cases, explore 11 Helpful Resources for Railroad Workers and our free book on Railroad Injury Rights.

Trust in the FELA Lawyers at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers is a full-service personal injury law firm dedicated to defending the rights of accident victims harmed at little to no fault of their own. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience helping people seek full and fair compensation. We never represent insurance companies. 

The attorneys on our top-tier legal team have been recognized by numerous professional organizations and publications, including:

  • The Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • Top Lawyers by Coastal Virginia Magazine
  • Lawyers of Distinction

One of our founding partners, John Cooper, is a leading railroad accident attorney who has successfully helped people with FELA claims against CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak. John is a member of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys and served as Chair of the FELA Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice from 2011 to 2017. He has also been recognized numerous times as Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Virginia. 

We secured millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients, including $303,000 for a plaintiff hurt while working for Norfolk Southern. Our firm is ready to use our extensive experience, resources, and legal expertise to investigate your case and fight tenaciously on your behalf. 

Schedule Your Free Consultation With a Skilled Railroad Accident Lawyer Today

Remember, you do not need to face the aftermath of your railroad accident injury alone. Contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers to schedule your free case evaluation now by calling us at (757) 333-3333 or completing our online contact form. When you work with us, you pay nothing unless we win your case.

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