Railroad workers in Connecticut and around the country who are injured in on-the-job accidents are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act and not state-run workers' compensation programs. While injured or sick workers in other industries are generally entitled to compensation even if they acted negligently, railroad workers may be denied benefits if their injuries were entirely or partly caused by their reckless behavior. Another key difference between the two processes is that FELA claims are filed in court rather than with a workers' compensation insurance company.
One such case involves a man employed by the Texas-based Port Terminal Railroad Association as a switchman. On Aug. 29, the man filed a FELA claim against his employer in the Harris County District Court over injuries he suffered in a workplace accident in March. The man says that he suffered serious injuries to his neck, back and shoulder when he fell after entering the cab of a locomotive that had no floor.
The man's claim is based on the doctrine of strict liability. This is liability that does not rely on negligence or malicious intent. Railroads are required by law to provide a safe working environment for their employees, which includes meeting standards laid down by legislation like the Locomotive Inspection Act. The man claims that had the locomotive involved been properly inspected as required by the LIA, the missing floor would have been discovered and the accident that injured him would have been prevented.
Attorneys with experience in this area may advise injured railroad workers to prepare their FELA claims carefully as their employers are likely to mount a vigorous defense. Attorneys could also assess the facts involved to determine whether or not federal safety laws were violated and if a legal action could be brought under the doctrine of strict liability.
Source: The SE Texas Record, "Port Terminal Railroad Association worker alleges missing floor in locomotive caused injuries", Kristine Gonzales-Abella, Sept. 18, 2018