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Employer Responsibility Under FELA

Behind the scenes of the railroad industry, there's an unsung hero that ensures the safety of these workers: the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA. This pivotal law doesn't just protect injured railroad workers. It also sets a high bar for employer responsibilities. From maintaining safe working conditions to providing adequate training, the obligations under FELA are far-reaching.

Congress enacted FELA for the protection of railroad workers in 1908. FELA created a system where injured workers could get compensation for their injuries. It also provided railroad companies and employers with uniform liability standards. FELA requires that railroads provide their workers with a reasonably safe work environment.

The following article provides a brief overview of employer responsibilities under FELA.

What is FELA?

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a special federal law made to protect railroad workers. FELA covers their injury claims if a railroad worker gets hurt on the job. It's different than regular workers' compensation laws. These laws cover state workers in other industries.

One key point about FELA is that it focuses on the railroad's negligence or carelessness. If a railroad employer doesn't follow safety rules and a worker gets hurt, that's negligence. For FELA cases, proving the employer's negligence is a critical step. This is where FELA lawyers can be really helpful. They can give injured railroad workers the legal advice they need.

Unlike in a workers' compensation claim, under FELA, the injured employee carries the "burden of proof." This means that the worker or their loved one has to show that the railroad employer did something wrong, which led to workplace injury. FELA lawyers can help with this, too. They know how to gather the right evidence and present a strong case in federal court.

When a worker gets hurt, FELA cases can cover many different expenses. They can help with medical bills personal injury costs, and even compensate for lost wages if the worker can't do their job anymore. In unfortunate cases where a worker has died from a job injury, FELA can also help the family with a wrongful death claim.

Under FELA, employers have certain responsibilities.

Employer Responsibilities Under FELA

Under FELA, the primary responsibilities of employers include:

  • Ensuring a safe work environment. Employers must take all reasonable steps to make the workplace free of hazards and unsafe conditions. This might mean keeping up with the maintenance of equipment and tools and the use of adequate safety devices.
  • Providing appropriate training. Employers must offer adequate training to their workers to ensure they can perform their tasks safely and competently.
  • Supervising and inspecting the workplace. Employers should properly supervise their employees to prevent accidents and injuries. Employers should check the workplace for potential hazards. Not all hazards are obvious. Some are hidden or develop over time.
  • Complying with safety regulations. Employers must adhere to all applicable safety laws and regulations in the railroad industry. See FindLaw's OSHA and Railroad Workplace Safety section for related information.
  • Providing necessary tools and equipment. Employers should supply the workers with the appropriate tools and equipment to carry out their work safely.
  • Addressing reported hazards. Employers should promptly address and rectify any reported hazards in the workplace. Employers should also warn employees of any known dangers.
  • Providing medical treatment. If a worker gets injured on the job, the employer must ensure they get the necessary medical treatment.
  • Fairly handling injury claims. Employers must deal fairly with injury claims made by workers. They must cooperate with the insurance company and the worker's FELA lawyers.
  • Giving workers time off to recover. When workers get injured, employers should provide adequate time off to recover before returning to work.

By fulfilling these responsibilities, employers can contribute to a safer work environment in the railroad industry. They also protect themselves from potential FELA cases. An employer found to be negligent will be liable under FELA. They will be responsible for paying the employee for their damages.

FELA vs. Workers' Compensation

FELA and workers' compensation insurance are designed to help workers after a work-related injury. But while workers' comp usually just covers medical expenses and some lost wages, FELA can cover a lot more. Also, workers' comp doesn't need to prove the employer was at fault, but FELA does. This is why injured railroad workers need to get legal advice.

Get an Evaluation of Your Legal Claim

FELA plays a vital role in the railroad industry. Remember that this list of an employer's duties to railroad workers under FELA is not exclusive. While the facts of your case may differ from what we mentioned in this article, your legal right to compensation under FELA may still be clear-cut. Talk with an experienced FELA attorney to ensure your rights to that compensation are fully protected.

Injury cases, like a train accident or a brain injury, can be tough. The insurance company may not want to pay. The injured worker might not know what to do. This is where accident lawyers come in, especially those who understand FELA. They build strong client relationships and fight for workers' rights in the courtroom. They help claimants get the benefits they deserve.

Talk to a FELA attorney and get an evaluation of your case today.

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