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How can you prove negligence in a FELA claim?

Working in the railroad industry has a higher risk of accident and injury than other industries in the United States. If you were injured on the job, you may face high medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and emotionally suffer from the trauma of the experience.

The Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) provides injured railroad workers with the financial support they need after a serious accident. However, to secure FELA benefits, the worker must prove that their employer, another employee or a manufacturer's negligence contributed to their injury. How do you show negligence, and how does this impact your compensation?

What makes a party responsible?

Negligence can be established due to many factors including:

  • OSHA violations
  • Machinery is faulty or not properly maintained
  • The worksite fails to uphold basic safety standards
  • A supervisor fails to instate worksite changes after being warned of their danger
  • Lack of proper safety training or oversight
  • An intentional act of harm

This list is not exhaustive. FELA may be awarded to an employee injured due to other acts of negligence as well.

It may seem impossible to definitively prove one of these factors. Fortunately, the law only requires the worker to provide "featherweight burden of proof." This means that you do not need to demonstrate the same level of proof necessary in a standard personal injury case. You just need to show that the other party's action, or inaction, contributed to your injury.

The role of comparative negligence

Once negligence is established, compensation is determined based on the relative responsibility of each party. Your awarded compensation is directly linked to your relative level of fault for the accident. If the court determines that you are 40 percent responsible for your injury, you can recover 60 percent of the total determined benefits.

If you are concerned about establishing a successful FELA claim, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case and help you prepare a strong case for compensation.

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