The railroad industry has contributed to the growth and development of the United States, but railroad work also creates a significant risk for serious injury.
Our FELA attorneys at Armbruster Dripps Blotevogel LLC have decades of experience protecting those who have been hurt by railroads, including railroad employees, in courts throughout the United States. Our attorneys have secured millions in verdicts and settlements. If you have been injured by a railroad, our firm can represent you no matter where you live.
In this article, we explore some of the most common injuries caused by railroads, and the role the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) plays in protecting the rights of injured railroad workers.
- Death: In the most severe situations, railroad employees and others die because of railroad negligence, causing life-changing damages to those they leave behind.
- Amputations: In other instances, railroad employees and others suffer injuries that require amputation.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Any sudden jolt or severe impact, or lifting heavy objects, can injure the spinal cord. These injuries might result in partial or complete paralysis.
- Broken Bones and Fractures: Railroads operate massive systems using heavy machinery. Railroad injuries often result in crushed limbs or broken bones, including situations where a person might be pinned between cars or equipment, is struck by cars or other equipment, or is injured because the equipment fails or because they were given the wrong tools for the job.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Blows to the head, either from a fall or being struck by an object, can lead to traumatic brain injuries. TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, impacting a victim’s cognitive functions and quality of life.
- Burns: Railroads often transport hazardous and flammable materials. Leaks or explosions can cause fires, resulting in severe burns to victims in the vicinity.
- Electrocutions: Electrified rails, overhead power lines, and equipment malfunctions can lead to electrocution injuries.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act protects the rights of railroad workers who are injured on the job. Unlike typical workers’ compensation systems, FELA requires injured employees to prove that the railroad was negligent in causing their injuries.
- No Limits on Recovery: In workers’ compensation, what can be recovered is determined by reference to schedules or tables regarding the percentage of a body part that was impaired. In FELA cases, a jury determines the proper compensation for the losses you have and will experience. The jury can award whatever they believe the evidence warrants.
- Wider Coverage than Workers’ Compensation: FELA compensates for pain and suffering, loss of wages (both present and future), and emotional distress. This often results in significantly higher recoveries than an employee would get in the workers’ compensation system.
- Choice of Where to Sue: Under FELA, injured railroad workers have the right to sue their employers in either state or federal court.
- No Need for Proving Complete Negligence: Even if the worker was partially at fault, they can still recover damages under FELA, though the compensation will be reduced in proportion to their fault.
For those working in the railroad industry, it is imperative to understand your rights and the protections offered by FELA. If you or a loved one has suffered a life-changing injury caused by a railroad, consider reaching out to our legal team. We can use our knowledge of FELA and the railroad industry to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call (800) 917-1529.