RIDGE & DOWNES
DANIEL J. DOWNES, P.C.
THE FEDERAL EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY ACT (FELA)
A LAW ENACTED FOR THE BENEFIT OF RAILROAD EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES
By Daniel J. Downes
Designated Legal Counsel
Our attorneys have dedicated their practice to protecting the rights of injured railroad employees and their families. We have, over four decades, assisted railroad families with problems unique to the railroad industry such as Railroad Retirement, insurance, OSHA, and representation under the FELA for injuries caused by the negligence of their employers. Our attorneys have extensive experience in resolving problems for rail employees in all crafts. The firm and its members are committed to providing competent and courteous professional services to the members of the numerous rail labor organizations which have honored the firm or its members with appointment to the Designated Legal Counsel lists based on the firm’s ability to successfully represent their members and obtain substantial monetary awards and verdicts for them. We are ready, willing, able and have the experience to help you.
Our many friends in rail labor and members of their families have often asked us to provide them information regarding their rights when injury or death occurs to a railroad employee while on the job. The information provided herein is not legal advice and is not intended to inform you on how the Law may be applied to any particular injury or case. It is intended to inform you, very briefly, about the origin of your rights and how you may enforce those rights for your own protection. You can get free legal advice about your particular situation by calling us at 1-800-572-1136 or 1-800-624-2121.
The United States Congress recognizing the extreme dangers of working in the rail industry enacted the FELA in the early 1900s. This unique law was enacted to provide monetary damages to injured railroad workers who suffered injury or death due to the negligent or unlawful acts of the railroad which employed them, and thereby creates a monetary incentive for the railroad to provide its employees with a reasonably safe place in which to work. The FELA has been recognized and enhanced through rulings and interpretations of the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts, both state and federal, throughout the country.
The FELA is important to all people employed in the railroad industry and their families because it provides the basis for their sole remedy for injury or death caused, in whole or in part, by the negligent or unlawful acts of their employer. Railroad employees are not covered by the various workers’ compensation laws, so it is in the best interest of railroad employees to know something about the FELA and how they may best secure the benefits afforded them under the Law. Because it is unrealistic to expect you to become an expert in the Law, the U.S. Supreme Court long ago approved the practice of rail labor unions designating and approving attorneys who concentrate their practice in this area of law, and of informing their membership of the need for the assistance of such attorneys. Help is as near as your telephone. You may call your union representative for information about union approved legal counsel or you may call us directly. As legal counsel approved by your union, we have agreed to provide you advice free of charge. We hope you will never become injured while working for the railroad, but if you do, you can rest assured that your union has appointed legal counsel who are trained, qualified and willing to help you with any problem you may have in a professional manner, so that you have a good chance of receiving a just remedy for your injuries.
You may recover damages under the FELA even if your own negligence is proven to have contributed to the cause of your injury; however, the railroad may be entitled to a set off of damages caused by your proportion of the fault. In some cases your contributory negligence may not cause any reduction in damages e.g. when the carrier is found to have violated certain safety statutes such as the Locomotive Inspection Act or the Safety Appliance Act. It is the carrier’s responsibility to provide a safe place in which to work, safe instrumentalities with which to do the work, safe methods of operations, to refrain from negligent actions or negligent failures to take action which cause you injury, and to comply with various safety statutes and rules.
The FELA was enacted for your benefit and although its purpose is to protect railroad workers, you must act in accordance with your own best interests and common sense in order to secure the benefits that the Law was intended to provide you. Make no mistake about it, when you become injured on the railroad, the claim agents, the officials, and the lawyers the railroad hired in anticipation of injuries caused through its fault are your adversaries and will do all in their power to protect the carrier’s interests and prevent you from receiving the money damages you are entitled to recover under the FELA. Do not place yourself in the hands of your adversaries. Call for free advice before you hurt your chances to get just recovery and compensation. Help is a phone call away, call 1-800-372-1136 or 1-800-624-2121 now for free legal advice.