Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

History of FELA for Railroad Workers

March 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 155

Congress enacted the Federal Employers' Liability Act, commonly called FELA, in 1908. FELA dictates the conditions in which a railroad employee may recover monetary damages from the employer. Although the act served as an important part of financial recovery for injured railroad employees, it has also been the subject of great debate. FELA Then and Now

When railroad employees brought forth injury lawsuits, the employee had to prove that employer negligence caused the injury. Even when the employee successfully proved employer negligence, three rules often prevented financial recovery.

Federal Servant Rule

Normally, the employer assumed liability for the actions of its employees. In 1842, courts held that injured employees could not recover damages when a co-worker's negligence caused the injury. The injured employee should recover damages from the co-worker, not the employer.

The Assumption-of-Risk Doctrine

Courts held that individuals knowingly and voluntarily assume a certain level of risk under the employment contract.

Doctrine of Contributory Negligence

Even if the employee proved employer negligence, courts did not award damages if the employee's negligence contributed wholly or in part to the injury.

Economic expansion in the United States led to an increase in work-related injuries. The Interstate Commerce Commission Report (764) states that 2,675 railroad workers died and 41,142 sustained injuries in 1901 because of work-related incidents. Railroad labor unions pressured Congress to enact a law at the federal level making it easier for injured workers to recover damages.

In 1906, Congress complied by enacting the First Federal Employers' Liability Act. The United States Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional in 1908 holding that governing interstate railroad liability was beyond Congress power under the Commerce Clause. The clause only applied to railroad employees injured while engaging in interstate commerce activity. It did not apply to railroad employees injured performing non-interstate business.

Congress quickly enacted the second Federal Employers' Liability Act in 1908. The second act applies to railroad employees. In 1939, Congress amended the act. The amendment eliminated the Fellow Servant Rule and the assumption-of-risk doctrine. It also prohibited retaliation against employees who testified on behalf of the injured worker. Congress introduced the idea of comparative negligence, which allows compensation for employees found to be partially negligent. These guidelines remain in place today. There have been no additional amendments since 1939.

Designated Legal Counsel

Prior to the enactment of FELA, railroad workers received little to no compensation for their injuries. On the surface, FELA was simple. Injured workers could sue railroad companies for work-related injuries. However, companies had the financial resources to dispute claims indefinitely. Workers incurred sizable legal expenses and could not afford to continue. The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen recognized this problem and proposed the idea of appointing selected attorneys to represent injured workers. This led to the formation of the Designated Legal Counsel, which is active today. Controversy

Some employers argue that FELA awards unjustified compensation in ambiguous situations. Others argue that a substantial amount of awarded compensation goes to the attorney instead of the injured employee. Railroad unions argue that workers receive more compensation under FELA than traditional workers' compensation. Unions also argue that the imminent threat of large compensation awards leads to safer work conditions and facilities for railroad employees.

Landmark Court Cases

Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad 352 U.S. 500, 503 (1957): held that fault is present if railroad negligence, no matter how small, led to the death or injury of an employee.

Gallick v. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company 372 U.S. 108 (1963) held that cause is present when there is proof the employer's negligence played any role in the death or injury of an employee.

Consolidated Rail Corporation v. Gottshall 510 U.S. 1162 (1994) held that employees can only receive compensation for emotional or mental injuries when the emotional injury occurs after or in combination with a physical injury, or the employee worked in a hazardous or dangerous area.

For more information regarding FELA, railroad employee injury and how a Lubbock injury lawyer can help - visit Liggett Law Group online.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Injured Railroad Employees


Railroad Employees


Railroad Workers







Thus, you can apply for the negligence compensation under such circumstances in order to recover your loss, Negligence Claims, Negligence compensation Involvedness of Negligence Claims. The court

By: Simon Liva l Legal > Personal Injury l December 13, 2012 lViews: 291

If a lawyer is not able to devote enough time to your case then your defense is likely to suffer. Moreover specialization in one stream or other of defense is important so that the attorney can

By: Simon Liva l Legal > Criminal Law l December 12, 2012 lViews: 429

Filing a business bankruptcy can be a complex and critical task, but you have several options. You can consult your bankruptcy attorney to know which among those options is right for you.This is a

By: Harvard McIntosh l Legal > Corporations LLC l December 11, 2012 lViews: 235

You can always check for the treatments that are covered. This is because there are some policies which do not give you claims if you meet any kind of head injury.You can always check for the

By: Simon Liva l Legal > Personal Injury l November 05, 2012 lViews: 241

In Colorado, you have many Personal Injury Lawyers to choose from. When you choose the Law Offices of Andrew C. Bubb you instantly put years of experience and legal know how in your corner. Attorney

By: Dilshad l Legal > Personal Injury l October 25, 2012 lViews: 389

If you have been charged with a crime, speak with Boulder criminal defense attorney Steven Louth immediately to protect your rights. Steven Louth is a criminal defense attorney and criminal trial

By: Dilshad l Legal > Personal Injury l October 18, 2012 lViews: 244

A conveyancer, surprise surprise, is someone who is concerned with 'conveyancing'. This essentially means the legal transfer of 'title' from one person to the other.

By: Clarence Paxtonl Legal > Labor Lawl April 12, 2012 lViews: 160

Once you get over the reality that you were fired you should make yourself ready for a fight. To do this you will need to make sure you are in a good psychological condition. Secondly make sure you

By: Leon Steynl Legal > Labor Lawl March 23, 2012 lViews: 163

There are many reasons we find ourselves needing law firms. It might be that we are fighting a custody battle for our children, it might mean that we are in trouble over immigration, or we might be

By: Clarence Paxtonl Legal > Labor Lawl March 17, 2012 lViews: 160

It's normal for relationships to have their share of ups and downs. Even people who are good friends, or loving members of a family, or are genuinely considerate neighbors can come to unforeseen

By: Aaron Dinklel Legal > Labor Lawl March 12, 2012 lViews: 144

Having a workplace accident can severely damage your health, income and pension. The costs involved for the business can be immense too. Avoiding accidents in the workplace can be easy with some

By: Ethan O Noblel Legal > Labor Lawl March 08, 2012 lViews: 219

Workplace bullying is not an uncommon occurrence and if you are experiencing bullying at your workplace then there are several ways you can effectively deal with this. Dissimilar to bullies found in

By: Phil C Butlerl Legal > Labor Lawl February 29, 2012 lViews: 187

The thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test is a diagnostic method used to detect hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. Three other tests that most practitioners typically

By: Jack Norwoodl Health & Fitness > Thyroidl February 20, 2012 lViews: 297

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus