Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
"The Federal Employers Liability Act was designed to put on the railroad industry some of the costs of the legs, arms, eyes, and lives which it consumed in its operation. Not all these costs were imposed, for the Act did not make the employer an insurer. The liability which it imposed was the liability for negligence."
-Justice William Douglas, United States Supreme Court
Congress created the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in 1908 when railroads were the primary engine for expansion in the United States. The railroad industry saw unprecedented growth as the westward moving U.S. population built new communities and industries. President Theodore Roosevelt championed legislation to protect railroad workers who were experiencing high death tolls and tremendous numbers of grievous injuries while employed by the largely unregulated railroad industry. FELA created regulations for a safe workplace environment and the guaranteed right of workers and their families to be compensated in the event of workplace injury or death.
FELA is described in Title 45 (Railroads), CHAPTER 2 (Liabilities for injuries to employees), § 51 through § 60 of the U.S. Code. § 51 states that:
“Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories, or between any of the States and Territories, or between the District of Columbia and any of the States or Territories, or between the District of Columbia or any of the States or Territories and any foreign nation or nations, shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce, or, in case of the death of such employee, to his or her personal representative, for the benefit of the surviving widow or husband and children of such employee; and, if none, then of such employee’s parents; and, if none, then of the next of kin dependent upon such employee, for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment. Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be the furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this chapter, be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this chapter.”
More information on the U.S. Codes regulating railroad common carriers can be found at:
Train Accident Lawyer
The Federal Employers Liability Act is only as good as it is enforced. This means that the laws set in place to govern and hold liable those parties responsible for railroad injuries and train accidents will only be effective if a railroad injury lawyer represents those in need of legal help. A legal professional can investigate the working conditions of any railroad workplace to determine whether or not toxic hazards and/or illegal operations were involved with the accident that left you injured.
For a free consultation, contact a railroad injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin LLP by calling toll free (888) 495-6816 or by submitting the form at the top of this page.