Federal Employers Liability Act Lawyer
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a 1908 law that allows railroad workers to file suit and claim compensation for injuries suffered on the job in the railroad industry. The Act is intended to hold railroad companies responsible for not providing their employees with a safe workplace, and covers a wide range of potential harms that workers may have suffered. If you work for a railroad and have been hurt as a result of the actions of the railroad company, you may have grounds for a successful FELA claim.
Our railroad accident attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyer are dedicated to getting you compensation if you have been hurt due to someone else’s actions. Our Virginia Federal Employers Liability Act lawyers are well versed in these claims and fight on behalf of clients to get them the recovery they need from employers like Norfolk Southern and CSX.
What does FELA do?
The FELA law holds that “common carriers by railroad” who engage in interstate commerce are legally responsible to employees for damages that occur from railroad accidents in the course of their employment. It also has several key provisions that strengthen an injured worker’s ability to recover, including:
- A limitation on the contributory negligence doctrine — Some states bar an injured person from receiving compensation if they are even the slightest bit responsible for an accident, even if the railroad company deserved a greater amount of the blame. Instead, FELA grants recovery to workers even if they had partial responsibility for the incident.
- The elimination of the assumption of risk defense — Before FELA was passed, railroad companies escaped responsibility for accidents involving employees by claiming that their work was inherently risky, and employees voluntarily assumed that risk. This legislation barred that defense in cases involving FELA claims.
- A ban on contracting around liability — Railroad companies cannot require employees to waive liability through a contract. A provision in an employment contract that limits a railroad’s responsibility through injuries is invalid.
- A requirement to provide truthful information to investigators — Rules or threats to employees about providing investigators with information related to injuries is strictly prohibited by FELA and can be punishable through fines or imprisonment.
FELA is an important law that is meant to give you a fair opportunity for compensation if you have been injured in a railroad worker accident. If you were injured on duty during railroad work, our FELA attorneys in Virginia can explain more about the claims process for legal recovery.
Compensation Under FELA
Although it varies with the nature of the case, typical damages available to successful FELA claimants include:
- The reasonable value of medical care someone received and those he or she is reasonably certain to need in the future
- Wages a plaintiff has lost due to the injury, and future losses a plaintiff would probably have received
- The value of household services that a plaintiff cannot perform
- The physical and mental pain or suffering the plaintiff has experienced
If you have been hurt while working for a railroad carrier in some form, whether as an engineer, a trackman, a conductor, a carman, or as a train yard clerk, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, as well as the trauma you have suffered. Our lawyers in the area can help you understand what to expect from the FELA claim process. We know how to deal with the RR claims agents and their tricks.
Is Wrongful Death Covered by FELA?
The family members of railroad workers who have been killed on the job can bring a claim. If your loved one was killed as a result of their railroad work, FELA provides some protections, especially for a surviving spouse and minor children. The main focus of the damages in a FELA case involving wrongful death is the economic loss to the family. If a worker is 45-years-old and has been killed, their work wages until their retirement at age 67 may be recoverable. The conscious pain and suffering before death is also a compensable element of FELA wrongful death damages. A FELA lawyer in Virginia could determine if a particular wrongful death case could be covered by this program.
What is the Deadline to File a FELA Claim?
FELA has set limitations on the amount of time you have to file a claim in court. The statute of limitations deadline is three years from the date of injury in FELA. You should not wait though to contact a FELA lawyer. Reporting the injury before the end of the shift or as soon as possible helps insure that the FELA case will be stronger. Taking swift action by getting FELA counsel will help ensure you are provided with the compensation you need to make as full a recovery as possible.
Partial Liability of Injured Railroad Worker
Under FEL, injured railroad workers can collect for their damages even if they were partially at fault in causing their own injury. This makes the FELA law different than the law of ordinary negligence in Virginia. This federal law says that a court must compare the negligence of the railroad and the negligence of any of the employee then allow the claimant to collect for the percentage of his injuries which are attributable to the railroad’s fault. As an example, if the injured railroad worker is found by the jury to be 20 percent at fault in causing his own accident and the railroad is found to be 80 percent at fault then the injury railroad worker in a FELA case would get 80 percent of his damages.
The jury would decide what is the total amount to fully and fairly compensate the injured worker and then the railroad worker would receive 80 percent of that figure. This is the law of comparative negligence which is the law in most other states but not under regular tort law in Virginia. If your or a loved one has been injured on duty on the railroad it is extremely important to hire a specialized FELA railroad injury lawyer who has experience with the claims process to make sure that all compensation is received for on-the-job injuries.
Speak with a Virginia FELA Attorney
The attorneys of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers provide legal services to employees injured through railroad negligence. Our Virginia Federal Employers Liability Act lawyers are available 24/7 for our clients and we receive no fee until you have been compensated for your injuries. To learn more about FELA and your options for recovery, contact us for a free consultation.