The Federal Employers Liability Act is legislation rail employees in Connecticut and the rest of nation can used to recover financial damages from their employer for injuries that occur in the workplace. It takes precedence over state laws and requires that the injured party prove that the employer was negligent. The legislation also requires that any financial settlements that are awarded be reduced in proportion to the employee's failure to adhere to workplace safety policies.
Most railroad workplace injury settlements are awarded voluntarily. However, some cases spend at least five years in the judicial system due to disputes regarding the amount of the award, legal expenses associated with the railroad's defense and the combative nature of litigation.
One alternative to allowing the use of FELA is the implementation of the no-fault workers' compensation programs that are practiced in the country for almost all other types of workers. Binding arbitration is another option, as is an independent no-fault rail program. However, these types of programs all have the same type of problematic issues.
Railroad companies assert that safety regulations and laws are enough to compel railroad employers to create safe working conditions for their workers and that FELA should be eliminated. In contrast, proponents of FELA state that the only reason safety is a focus for railroads is the overwhelming risk of being held financially liable for injuries incurred by employees. The legislation is also believed to an effective preventative measure against the pursuance of bonuses linked to reduced injury rates and enhanced productivity and against out-of-control supervisors. An attorney could assist railroad workers with filing FELA claims for injuries sustained on the job. Assistance may also be provided for navigating the complicated and lengthy appeals process for denied claims.