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Rail Workers' Rights

Working for a railroad is a dangerous job that requires workers to handle machinery, equipment, chemicals in wide variety of locations, in all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because of the uniquely dangerous work environments for railroad workers, the United States Congress passed a law more than 100 years ago to protect all railroad workers when they are injured on the job; the law also protects their families if the worker gets killed. This law is called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), and it takes the place of workers compensation benefits for railroad workers.

What Railroads Must Do

FELA outlines a number of regulations for the rail industry, including:

  • Railroads must provide their employees with a reasonably safe place to work. That means the railroad must provide safe cars, engines, tools, safety appliances, machinery, and track. This duty to provide a safe workplace extends to locations outside the rail yard, including industries, motels, vans, and office buildings.
  • Railroads must inspect the workplace and the equipment and protect workers from danger. If the railroad fails to meet its obligation and a worker is injured or killed through the negligence of any officer, agent or employee of the railroad, the railroad is held responsible under FELA Law.
  • Workers can hold the railroad absolutely liable, meaning that the negligence of the worker, if any, will not reduce the award, under certain situations. Specifically, the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) requires that engines have no defects or slipping hazards. The Federal Safety Appliance Act (FSAA) requires that all safety appliances work as intended and not be defective. A worker who is injured as a result of an LIA or FAAA violation can hold the railroad absolutely liable and can recover all damages he can prove he has sustained as a result of the violation and injury.
  • A railroad that violates the FELA and must pay damages for injury or death that was caused, in whole or in part, by the railroad's negligence or LIA or FSAA violation. The damages allowed under the FELA include compensation for future medical expenses, unpaid medical expenses, net past and future lost wages and benefits, and past and future pain and suffering.
  • If a railroad worker is killed on the job, the worker's family can recover compensation for the loss of net future earnings after consumption that the worker would have contributed to his family, the net value of lost fringe benefits, the value of goods and services that the worker was likely to have contributed to the household had the death not occurred as well as the value of the attention, instruction, training, advice and guidance which the worker was likely to have given his children, and conscious pain and suffering.

Asserting Rail Workers' Rights

If your rights have been infringed and you would like to speak with an attorney, call Steel & Moss LLP. Our lawyers have more than five decades of combined experience in FELA and FRSA matters.

You can reach us at 866-551-7480 or arrange an appointment online. We offer free initial consultations, so we can assess your case and provide guidance without obliging you to retain us.