The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a United States federal law that gives interstate railroad workers that have been injured, sickened or killed during the course of their employment the right to sue their employer for damages providing their employer was negligent in whole or in part.
The FELA Act was enacted in 1908; Congress passed FELA in response the high number of railroad deaths that occurred during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Under FELA, workers who are not covered by workers' compensation are able to sue companies for their injuries. Unlike workers' compensation, FELA allows monetary compensation for pain and suffering, and the amount is decided based on comparative negligence rather than being pursuant to a pre-determined benefit schedule as in workers' compensation.
Once the railroad worker has proved that the railroad was legally negligent at least in part, the worker is entitled to full compensation which is usually far greater than what the worker would be entitled to under their state's workers' compensation for non-railroad workers. Unlike the "no-fault" workers' compensation laws where an injured worker does not need to establish any fault by their employer, when a worker brings a claim under FELA it is necessary to show that the railroad or its employees, or an equipment manufacturer was somehow responsible for the worker's injuries or illness.
Railroad work is known for being a inherently dangerous by nature, whether it involves working around heavy equipment, hot metals, exposure to toxic substances or being in danger of a collision or derailment. Railroad workers can suffer from exposure to benzene and other chemical substances linked to blood cancers such as aplastic anemia, leukemia, lymphomas, mesothelioma and gastrointestinal cancers. While many chemicals are no longer being used by railroads, diseases such as mesothelioma can take decades to develop.
Whether you have been hurt in a machinery accident, a collision, or if you've suffered an illness or disease from toxic exposure, at Hartley & O'Brien, we have extensive experience filing FELA claims on behalf of West Virginia railroad workers. Since injured workers are entitled to significantly more compensation under FELA versus workers' compensation, it's absolutely essential that we document and present your case effectively.
We urge you to contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney from our firm to arrange a free consultation. Our record speaks for itself; you pay nothing unless we settle your case so you have nothing to lose.