7 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FELA
Dear Union Member,
As one of your designated legal counsel or DLC, one of the important functions we provide is to inform the membership on the Federal Employees Liability Act or FELA.
The FELA was passed in 1908 in direct response to dangerous and often fatal working conditions on the railroad.
Congress recognized that the railroads were not providing a safe workplace and literally harming and killing its workers without any recourse or recovery. The law specifically provides that the railroad must provide a reasonably safe workplace including adequate tools, work procedures and properly maintained equipment.
Unlike the state Worker’s Compensation systems that exist throughout the United States, the FELA is a federal law applicable to all railroad operations in the 48 continental United States.
Provided that the railroad is engaged in interstate commerce, every railroad employer must comply with the statute and its regulations.
As a direct result of this powerful federal law, railroads have been forced to continually improve workplace safety.
As a direct benefit of the FELA, there has been a dramatic and steady decrease in both the severity and number of on-duty incidents. Unfortunately, given the nature of the industry and overall working conditions, on-duty injuries will continue to occur. Therefore, it is very important that you, and/or your significant other understand your rights and responsibilities if and when an unfortunate on-duty injury might occur.
THIS IS NOT WORKER’S COMPENSATION:
Since the FELA is a fault base statute, the injured employee must prove that the railroad was negligent or at fault in causing their injuries. Under FELA there are multiple ways, of course, a railroad can be found to be negligent, including unsafe work practices, unsafe conditions, and faulty equipment, etc. Under any worker’s compensation system, such questions as to fault are not relevant. In a FELA claim, the employee has the burden to establish fault or responsibility on the railroad.
UNDER FELA, THE INJURED EMPLOYEE CAN CLAIM ALL HARMS AND LOSSES:
Under the FELA, a major difference from state worker compensation systems is that the injured railroad employee can recover all of his or her damages. In other words, the injured rail worker is entitled to recover all of his or her past and future wage loss, loss of earning capacity, loss of fringe benefits, re-training costs, out-of-pocket medical costs, as well as all the losses due to pain, suffering, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Under a state worker’s compensation system, awards are statutorily restricted and therefore recovery can be considerably lower than an award under the FELA.
THE ROLE OF DLC:
For over 50 years, our firm has been fortunate enough to represent injured rail workers and their families. As such we have garnered tremendous expertise and experience in handling these claims throughout the greater western half of the United States. Deciding when and if to consult an attorney is always an individual question, but the important message to remember is that access to DLC is both free and confidential.
You have significant rights to receive fair and full compensation for all of your harms and losses when you suffer an on-duty injury. However, the process of pursuing such a claim can be very complicated and overwhelming, especially given the vast resources your railroad employer has available to it to defend itself from any such claim.
To provide you with some assistance and better understanding, we encourage you to keep visiting our website (http://railraod-injuries.com) for continuous information and resources.
This information is not only helpful to you but also for your significant other or spouse who may need to step in at times when you are disabled from an on-the-job injury.
No one wants or expects to ever be injured on the job. However, given the nature of your workplace and the type of work you perform around heavy moving equipment, such injuries can and likely will occur. Preparation is key and therefore information about your rights and responsibilities is something to take seriously.
At Rossi Vucinovich we stand ready to answer any and all questions that you may have about the FELA and your rights and responsibilities under this comprehensive federal law. As a member of your union the initial consultation is both free and confidential. We are full-service personal injury firm and also able to handle other general inquiries you may have about off-duty serious personal injury cases involving you, a loved one or a friend.
James K. Vucinovich
(President of Rossi Vucinovich PC)