Railroads provide convenient transportation for many people in Connecticut. They also carry a large share of the nation’s freight and provide jobs for many workers. But railroad facilities can also be dangerous working environments for those who work in or around the trains. Fortunately, under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), railroad employees who suffer an on-the-job injury have a legal remedy if the railroad’s negligence contributed to the injury.

Railroad workers are owed certain duties by the railroad companies. If a railroad company or employer violates one or more of these duties, the employer may be liable under FELA. Railroad companies have the duty to enforce safety rules, to ensure workers are protected from others’ harmful intentional acts, to provide sufficient training, assistance and supervision so that employees may perform their jobs, to inspect work environments to ensure their safety, and to provide reasonably safe work environments, tools, safety devices and equipment.

FELA handles liability somewhat differently than the traditional “no fault” workers’ compensation system. A railroad worker who is injured on the job and brings a claim under FELA will need to establish that the defendant acted negligently in some manner, failed to provide a reasonably safe work environment or violated another duty, which subsequently led to the worker’s injuries. Interestingly, a claimant has a fairly low burden of proof in a FELA claim, known as a “featherweight” burden of proof. Under this standard, which is lower than the standard of proof required in a traditional negligence claim, an injured worker has an advantage, as he or she only has to show that the defendant was somehow negligent and such negligence contributed to the worker’s injuries.

If you work for the railroad and have been injured on the job, you may have a claim under FELA. An attorney may be able to provide guidance regarding your rights.

Source: FindLaw, “Railroad Worker Injuries / FELA – Overview,” accessed Dec. 26, 2015