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How do workers prove liability in a railroad accident?

Some workers in West Virginia face a dangerous work environment every workday. While safety initiatives are developed to prevent potential safety hazards, increase safety, and hold employers liable for any safety violations, these measures unfortunately do not prevent all serious and even fatal accidents from occurring. Railroad face these dire circumstances on a daily basis. Therefore, when an on-the-job injury occurs, it is important that railroad workers understand their rights and options when it comes to workers' compensation.

How do workers prove liability in a railroad accident? Back in 1908, the Federal Employers Liability Act or FELA was established as a means to protect the thousands of railroad workers employed across the nation. Today, this Act continues to provide a federal system for the recovery of workers' compensation benefits for railroad workers and their family members.

According to FELA, if a railroad worker is injured on the job, including those workers whose primary work duties were not performed in or around trains or train cars, could collect benefits for almost any injury suffered while employed by a railroad company. Unlike regular no fault workers' compensation claims, a claim under FELA requires the proof of fault. This means that an employee must show that the negligence of their employer, another employee, an equipment manager, or another similar party was negligent and caused the railroad workers injuries.

Under FELA, a railroad company owes several things to their employees. These things include a reasonably safe work environment, an inspected work environment, adequate training, safety from intentional harm from others, enforcement of safety rules, and the use of reasonable work quotas. Failing to meet these duties could prove negligence, helping a worker with his or her FELA claim.

Because filing a FELA claim differs from a workers' compensation claim, it is important that railroad workers understand how these actions work and how to successfully file a claim. This could result in the individual obtaining the benefits owed to him or her, helping him or her address expenses caused by medical bills and lost wages.

Source: FindLaw, "Railroad Worker Injuries / FELA - Overview," accessed June 19, 2016

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