Railroad employers in New York and around the country have had to abide by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) since its passage in 1908. Those who are hurt on the job have the option of suing their employer in either state or federal court. Workers are also generally protected whether they work directly on a train or not. It is also important to note that those who bring claims must show that a defendant was negligent in causing an injury.
The railroad on which a worker was hurt must also be engaged in interstate commerce. However, the standard of proving that negligence occurred is lower than in other cases and may be referred to as the "featherweight burden". It is generally only necessary to show that some form of negligence occurred that had some role in causing the injury.
Railroad companies may be able to show that an injured worker is also partially responsible. If a comparative negligence defense works, it may reduce the compensation that an injured worker is entitled to. In a FELA case, workers may be entitled to collect lost wages, recoup medical expenses and obtain compensation for mental distress of physical pain. Compensation may also be awarded for future medical bills, pain and suffering.
Under FELA, employers are required to provide a safe work environment for employees. Failure to do so may be a violation of the act, which may entitle workers to collect compensation for their injuries. An attorney may be able to review a case to determine if employer negligence led to those injuries.