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Facts About FELA And Railroad Worker Injury Lawsuits

 

As America expanded at the end of the 19th century, the railroad industry expanded with it.  In fact, it grew to six times its former size and influence, bringing with it increased danger of railroad worker accidents throughout the industry.  These dangers from railroad worker accidents expanded to such a degree that President Benjamin Harrison compared the plight of the U.S. railroad worker to that of a soldier at war. 

Various states had already begun enacting legislation to protect employees from railroad worker accidents, and provide the opportunity for injured employees to file claims similar to modern-day FELA lawsuits to obtain compensation and damages.  In 1908, after much deliberation and fine-tuning, Congress signed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) into law.  This legislation was patterned after the already successful state laws that had begun providing the opportunity for victims of railroad worker accidents to file FELA lawsuits for relief and compensation.  Legislators realized that such laws not only provided recourse for victims to file railroad worker injury lawsuits with the help of FELA lawyers, they produced an increase in safety standards by the railroad companies, which ended up protecting passengers as well. 

The Supreme Court confirmed the preventative aspect of FELA as it enabled railroad worker injury lawsuits to induce railroad carriers to give greater diligence to protecting their employees from railroad worker accidents

In its very arguments over passage of FELA, the Congressional record shows their understanding of the dangers of railroad employment, and that passing the costs of railroad worker accidents on to the carriers through FELA lawsuits filed through railroad worker injury lawyers was the best method of curbing those dangers.  Indeed, the House of Representatives stated that one of the goals of FELA was to shift the cost of dangerous conditions and railroad worker accidents from those least able to bear it to those who can and ought to bear it—the railroad companies.  Again, the Supreme Court agreed that putting the burden of employees’ losses (of legs, eyes, arms, and lives) through railroad worker accidents on to railroad companies through railroad worker injury lawsuits which FELA lawyers are well able to pursue was a worthy goal.

From the very beginning, Congress expected FELA statutes to free victims of railroad worker accidents from the difficulties of common law torts and make it easier for victims to successfully file FELA lawsuits.  Even though today, FELA lawyers are generally necessary to navigate the intricacies of FELA lawsuits, the “featherweight” burden of proof built into FELA lawsuits makes the process generally easier than personal injury, or tort, lawsuits.  This lower burden of proof was intentional on the part of legislators, mandating that railroad worker injury lawyers are generally only required to prove that a railroad company is wholly or partially at fault for railroad worker accidents to win their FELA lawsuits.  Indeed, the fact that FELA lawsuits rely on comparative negligence rather than contributory negligence, which was popular at the time, provides an additional element strengthening FELA lawsuits for railroad worker injury lawyers to pursue them more easily and successfully.  That means that even if the victim was partially at fault, the railroad company can still be found liable and made to pay compensation for their percentage of fault in FELA lawsuits.  

Over the years, more than twenty bills have attempted to void FELA and install workers’ compensation principles into the railroad industry without success. 

FELA Statutes
As a result of this legislation, victims of railroad worker accidents have strong principles allowing them to contact FELA lawyers and file FELA lawsuits to obtain compensation for their injuries.  Railroad worker injury lawsuits can result in compensation in three areas:

  • For past and future medical expenses due to railroad worker accidents
  • For past and future wages lost because of railroad worker accidents
  • For pain, mental distress, and suffering due to railroad worker accidents

It is important for lawyers to wait for a final diagnosis from railroad worker accidents to file FELA lawsuits with estimates of compensation.  Although lawyers must file their FELA lawsuits within the three-year statute of limitations, lawyers must wait until all pertinent information is available or risk asking for less than adequate compensation.

Families of victims of railroad worker accidents who are killed are also entitled to enlist the aid of FELA or railroad worker injury lawyers to file lawsuits and recover compensation and damages for their present and future losses.

FELA Benefits
Not only are there benefits from lawsuits to obtain compensation for railroad worker accidents, but railroad companies have enacted and maintained higher standards of safety because of these type of lawsuits.  The more successful FELA legal claims are, the greater benefit there is to all who are involved in the railroad industry.  


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