Why FELA Matters to Younger Railroad Workers
You didn’t grow up hearing about FELA. It’s not taught in schools and most of the general public doesn’t even know it exists. But as a railroad employee, it is a law that you will want to know and understand.
FELA is your own special compensation law. It gives you rights and protections that virtually no other employment sector has. It can potentially provide you with recoveries for injuries at better 10 to one compared to typical state workers’ compensation laws. Passed in 1908, FELA is as relevant today as it was then.
Railroad work remains one of the most dangerous occupations today. Employees risk serious injury or death working around heavy moving equipment in all types of weather, day or night. Relying on your employer to furnish and maintain reasonably safe working conditions is no guarantee against injury, as each year railroad accidents seriously hurt or take the life of workers.
Congress enacted FELA to acknowledge these risks. As the U.S. Supreme Court said, “…[FELA] is a response to the special needs of railroad workers who are daily exposed to the risks inherent in railroad work and are helpless to provide adequately for their own safety.”
No law can keep you safe, return physical health or bring back a loved one. And no law can ease that pain, either. But FELA is there to make the railroad a safer place to work and to ensure workers the right to pursue compensation in the event of death or injury This unique law has protected railroad workers and their families for over a hundred years, and today stands as the best worker safety and compensation law in the United States.