Railroad Workers’ Compensation – Understanding FELA Claims

Railroad Workers’ Compensation – Understanding FELA ClaimsThe railroad has existed for centuries. For as long as it has been around, so have the skilled workers ensuring it runs smoothly and safely, doing everything from manning the trains themselves to performing maintenance on the tracks. This industry can be surprisingly dangerous, however, and so it is important to know both your rights and your options if you’re one of the hardworking employees within it.

How dangerous are jobs in the railroad industry in Alabama?

With electrified tracks and the combined size and speed of most trains, it is no exaggeration to say these essential employees are risking their lives to keep us moving. In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that in 2019 alone, there were almost four thousand reported railroad employee injuries. This is a truly staggering number considering there are only around 3,600 RR employees in total in Alabama.

These are some of the most common (and expensive) injuries railroad workers may face:

  • Bone fractures and breaks. Depending on the severity and location, this would not only incur costly medical bills but could also require an extended leave from work.
  • Soft tissue injuries. While often dismissed as “minor,” these sorts of injuries worsen over time, and can be incredibly painful and debilitating.
  • Injuries to the back, neck, and/or spine. This sort of trauma can incapacitate even in the best of circumstances. Life-long care means life-long medical bills and expensive therapies.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Another serious risk that, if it doesn’t kill, can change and hurt in a myriad of ways, from losing certain senses to memories to motor function. Brain injuries are also notorious for their costly management.

Making a FELA claim if you are injured while working on a railroad in Alabama

If you are one of the brave Americans working on an Alabama railroad, you already know the dangers and risks of your job. You may also know you’re not eligible for the same workers’ compensation as other industries. Instead, you need to apply under the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA.

FELA is, in short, workers’ compensation for railroad employees. It is this act that ensures negligent employers are held accountable for injuries or occupational illnesses their workers suffer on the job. It is also this act that allows said workers to seek compensation and damages in the event of an accident.

Unlike typical workers’ compensation, however, the onus is on the victim to prove their employer was negligent — and that said negligence was the cause of their injury. Regardless of the industry, employers have a duty of care to the people who work for them, and any time they fail to meet that standard is negligence. The most common negligent acts leading to FELA claims include the failure to:

  • Follow proper OSHA procedure
  • Enforce safety rules
  • Properly train employees
  • Properly supervise employees
  • Maintain or replace faulty equipment
  • Provide proper safety and protective gear
  • Inspect workplace to ensure it is free of hazards

If you are able to prove your employer created a hazardous workspace because of any of the above, you can receive compensation as long as you pursue your case within three years of the incident. You will also want to work with a qualified Alabama FELA lawyer who is well-versed in the intricacies of the law, as they can ensure your employer’s greed doesn’t cost you more than it already has. Even when fault is obvious, no company wants to have to pay compensation. A good attorney won’t give them a choice.

Working on a railroad is already stressful, exhausting work — you don’t need any more stacked on top, especially while recovering from your accident. At Mezrano Law Firm, our experienced Alabama FELA attorneys are ready to help, from answering any preliminary questions you may have and all the way to the courtroom. We are proud to be here for you in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Gadsden, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. To learn more and get the support you deserve, call us today at 205-206-6300 or contact us. We can help you get your life back on track.