Railroad Injuries in Alabama
A railroad is a dangerous working environment that puts workers at risk every moment that they are at work. Railroads have had a history of being dangerous since they began to roll into the United States. Legislation has even been passed, such as the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in 1908, that was specially made to protect the men and women who service the American railroads.
FELA has protected railway workers for over one hundred years by providing a means to legal recover any damages that the workers may receive while on the job. Nearly any injury that occurs to a railroad employee is protected under the FELA as long as the injury occurred while on the job. Even injuries that happen while performing duties that are not near the trains themselves. Claims that are filed under the FELA are made directly to the railway workers employers and can either be filed in state or federal court.
FELA allows for railroad workers to file claims against their employer, as well as gives railroad companies and employers a uniform liability standard for their working conditions and employee safety. If the railway fails to keep the level of security, you and your family are likely eligible to receive compensation for the accident.
How To Prove Railroad Injury Liability
FELA is not a “no fault” worker’s compensation law. Before you can receive compensation for damages, you have to show that your employer’s negligence caused your injury. To show your employer’s negligence, you need to demonstrate that the defendant failed to maintain a safe work environment, and that is why the accident occurred.
FELA requires railroad companies to provide services to their employees to keep a work environment safe. Failing to provide any of the services can result in the company being found liable for any accident that occurs. Some of these duties include:
- Check the work environment to ensure it is hazard free;
- Provide a safe work environment within reason, and guarantee the safety of all equipment, tools, and safety devices;
- See that employees follow all safety rules and regulations;
- Provide proper and adequate training, supervision, assistance, and make help available for employees in their job functions;
- Ensure workers are reasonably safe from intentional harmful acts of others, including other employees;
- Prevent unreasonable work quotas
Under FELA, the amount of fault or burden of proof that a victim must show to claim their employers are liable is less than that of an ordinary accident claim, such as a lawsuit over the damages caused by a car crash. A victim only needs to show the slightest bit of negligence and connect it as a cause of his or her injury to have a viable claim. This type of proving fault is known as “featherweight burden of proof,” and it gives a great advantage to the plaintiff.
Receive Compensation After A Railroad Injury
Winning a lawsuit under FELA means that you will receive payment for the damages caused by the accident. However, that is not all you can receive. You can also receive any wages that you lost because of the accident. That means any wages you were unable to earn in the time between the injury and the court ruling, as well as any fees that you will not be able to earn while your injury is healing. If the accident was particularly severe, you might also receive compensation for pain, suffering and mental distress that the injury may cause you to go through.
In the unfortunate event of death in the workplace, FELA requires the railroad company to compensate the living spouse and children of the worker. If the spouse did not have a spouse or children, the compensation would go to a living parent or the next closest living relative.
Railroad Company Liability Defense
While FELA allows for certain protections for railroad workers who have been injured, as well as gives employees a lighter burden of proof, a railway company is still likely to battle over liability in court. The most common defense that a railroad company will use is an argument over comparative negligence. Under this argument, the defense attorney will seek to show that the injured worker was greatly more negligent that the employer, so the liability for the accident should not rest on the company. Once the defendant has made this claim, the court will continue as usual. In the end, the jury will seek to assign a percentile of negligence to both parties. From there, the parties are responsible for paying whatever percentile of the damages that the jury decided on.
Railroad Injury Attorney in Mobile
A trial can be challenging and stressful, especially when the stakes are high. Often, it is unwise to go into a court room without the aid of a personal injury attorney with experience in railroad accidents. If you are a railroad worker that has been injured while working, call our office. Our railroad accident attorneys can help you get your life back on track.