The Federal Employers' Liability Act allows rail employees who are in interstate commerce in New York and the rest of the United States to pursue damages from their employers for injuries they sustain while on the job. It overrides any existing state legislation and stipulates that the injured workers have to prove that the employer was negligent. It also requires that any financial compensation that is awarded is to be reduced in proportion to the worker's failure in adhering to safety policies in the workplace.
Almost 85% of railroad workplace injury settlements are reached voluntarily. The other 15 percent of the railroad workplace injury cases can last as long as five years or more.
One alternative to FELA may be placing railroads in the no-fault worker's compensation programs that exist in all of the 50 states and that provide protections for almost all other workers, including those who work in the bus, truck and interstate airline sectors. Other alternatives could be establishing a no-fault rail program or binding arbitration. However, arbitration and no-fault programs present problems as well.
An attorney who handles FELA claims might guide injured railroad workers through the process of obtaining the financial compensation to which they may be legally entitled. The attorney may conduct independent investigations and interview workplace witnesses to determine the extent of the employer's negligence regarding the safety of the workplace. The attorney might engage in litigation in order to prove that the employer failed to provide the necessary policies or equipment to ensure a safe working environment. Depending on the factors of the case, the attorney may advise clients as to how much their monetary award may be reduced due to not being in compliance with the safety policies that were in place when the workplace incident occurred.