In 1908, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was enacted to offer some protections for injured railroad workers. It addressed the lack of appropriate safety standards in the industry. Those lax standards led to many workers dying or suffering from injuries.
There are some profound differences between how FELA cases and how workers’ compensation cases are handled. For example, in a workers’ compensation claim, there usually isn’t a requirement for the injured party to prove that there was an element of negligence on the part of the employer. In a FELA claim, the injured party will have to show that the employer’s negligence contributed to the incident.
Many FELA claims are based on the premise that the railroad has a duty to provide the workers with a safe environment. The claim should show that the railroad failed to do what a prudent and reasonable individual would have done to produce a safe result under the same circumstances. There are some specific exceptions to the requirement to prove negligence, such as when there is a violation of the Boiler Inspection Act or the Federal Safety Appliance Act.
Time is of the essence when a railroad worker suffers an injury. The statute of limitations set by FELA is three years. The time starts on the day of the injury or on the date on which an occupational disease’s symptoms are discovered. Once the time limit expires, the injured party won’t be able to take legal action to recover damages.
Cases involving railroad injuries are often complex. Victims should work with an attorney who’s familiar with the points contained in FELA. This can help the injured worker to focus on healing while the lawyer handles the legal claim.