If you were seriously injured while you were working for the railroad, your attorney will file a FELA lawsuit against your employer. TriMark Legal Funding can provide railroad accident pre-settlement funding while you wait for your claim to settle.
Being a railroad employee has always been dangerous work and railroad worker injuries are common. Railroad employees who have been can only receive compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
Under FELA, injured railroad employees can get compensation for medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance, both past and future lost wages, pain and suffering and decreased earning capacity.
Most railroad workers are in a very hazardous environment due to the nature of the job. However, it is the responsibility of the railroad workers to avoid involvement in such accidents, which are evident in safety purposes. Sometimes, though, these accidents are unavoidable.
Many railroad workers have suffered injuries from the job because of faulty equipment or an unsafe workplace, or any other similar situations. If the injuries sustained were partially due to the negligence of the employer, then plaintiffs are able to seek compensation from their employers through the Federal Employer’s Liability Act.
Under FELA, plaintiffs must prove that the employer had some negligence, and that the very negligence was a contributing factor to the injuries that were received, regardless of the severity of the negligence. So long as plaintiffs are able to reasonably justify and prove that the negligence was a partial cause for the injury, then the plaintiff can sue under this act. In some situations, family members may also file a FELA claim against the railroad company in behalf of a departed loved one who died because of injuries that were obtained from working at a railroad company.
Who is Eligible for FELA Railroad Settlements?
It is also important to note that even clerical positions in a railroad company are covered by the Federal Employer’s Liability Act in cases so long as injuries sustained were while working on the job and the employer’s negligence played a part in causing the injury to happen. Needless to say, employers who do not necessarily have to work in or around a railroad can still file for FELA claims as long as it meets the aforementioned requirements.
FELA follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. This basically states that the employer is required to pay an amount from the awarded amount to the plaintiff. The determining factor in the amount the defendant will have to pay is equivalent to the same percentage of fault that the employer had. If the defendant is accountable for 50 percent of the accident or injury, then the defendant will only pay 50 percent of the awarded amount to the plaintiff.
FELA Railroad Lawsuits
FELA requires plaintiffs to show some level of negligence on behalf of the defendant (a railroad, its employees or an equipment manufacturer). The amount of fault should be not any less than the amount of fault someone must prove in an ordinary negligence claim. Simply put, plaintiffs must be able to show proof that the employer had some sort of negligence (no matter how minor), which played a role in causing the injuries of the worker.
FELA litigation most often last longer than claims of workers compensation due to the proof required by courts. Unless there is a clear violation of federal standards of the defendant with regard to workplace safety (these federal standards with regard to workplace safety are state in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA regulations, the Boiler Inspection Act and the Safety Appliance Act), settling FELA claims are proven to be more difficult. When plaintiffs file for a FELA claim, plaintiffs are able to seek compensation for loss of past and future wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and for partial or permanent disability.
FELA Settlement Amounts
FELA enacts a pure comparative negligence standard to injury cases. This means that the total damage award of the injured railroad worker is reduced to an amount that is equivalent to the negligence that had occurred. In such cases, if a worker is found 25 percent liable and the remaining 75 percent is the negligence of the railroad, then the railroad is responsible for paying the 75 percent of the damages of the railroad worker.
FELA does not require the negligence to be a direct cause of the injury. As long as the worker is able to prove that the negligence played even a minor role in the injury, the worker will then be entitled to compensation for damages.
Common injuries that are involved in FELA lawsuits include derailments, defective tool accidents, negligence injuries, equipment malfunctions, improperly maintained track injuries, amputation, back and spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, burn injuries, crushing injuries, electrocution, fractures, repetitive motion injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, tendintis, and bursitis), slip and fall injuries, whole body vibration or WBV injuries. Even injuries of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis are injuries that railroad workers can obtain from the nature of the job due to the exposure to hazardous chemicals. In cases of severe or permanent injury to a worker, reports have stated that payouts can go up to millions.
FELA stands for the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, which was established by the 1908 Congress. At the time, there was a high rate of railroad accidents, injuries and death with railroad workers, hence the birth of the Federal Employer’s Liability Act. Before the act was passed, rarely any railroad worker or family member of these types of workers received any kind of compensations for the injuries that were obtained because of the job.
The Congress improved the FELA in 1939 by eradicating the suspicion of risk as defense in any situation. The alterations made to the FELA made it illegal for railroads to intimidate employees so that they would not disclose any information regarding an accident to an injured worker or his attorney.
Throughout the 1950s, many United States Supreme Court decisions became lenient with the definitions of cause under the FELA to favor the workers. In current times, if railroad negligence was to blame even for a minute detail in an injury sustained by a worker, the railroad is liable for a partition of the damages of the worker.
The act provides compensation for workers, especially in terms of protection for railroad workers across the United States. FELA was created to provide a legal system of recovery for railroad workers and their families in cases of injuries sustained by railroad workers due to the demands of the job.
Worker’s compensation works in such a way that it provides limited benefits to the employee, as opposed to FELA claims which allows the injured employee to receive up to 100% of recovery in damages caused by the negligent act of a railroad employer or co-worker.
The act allows injured railroad workers or their family members (in the case of death of loved one who is a railroad worker) to sue their employers for negligence in state or federal courts. Employees who have responsibilities that do not pertain to working in or around trains but are employed by railroad companies are also covered by the FELA as long as they are injured while working. Furthermore, the FELA protects freight railroad workers, National Railroad Passenger Corporation or Amtrak workers, and commuter railroad workers.
Railroad companies and employers have a number of duties and responsibilities under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act. If any of these duties are violated, the companies or employers can be held with liability under this act. These responsibilities include (1) producing reasonably safe work environments, tools, equipment, and safety devices; (2) inspecting the work environment to ensure that it is devoid of hazards; (3) providing proper and adequate training, supervision, assistance, and help to employees with regard to their job functions; (4) ensuring the safety of workers from harmful and intentional actions of others; (5) implement and execute safety regulations; and (6) prevention of the use of unreasonable work quotas.
FELA not only positively aids railroad workers in terms of compensation, but the act prompts employers to ensure safety practices and work areas in order to avoid such lawsuits. FELA is partially responsible for all the safety regulations that are being implemented in various railroad companies, railroads and rail yards since it pushes these employers to ensure safety practices and policies to prevent these lawsuits from ever coming into place.
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