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Connecticut railroad workers may be familiar with the Federal Employers Liability Act. Passed in 1908, it continues to provide compensation for injured railroad workers and for the families of those workers killed on the job. This is regardless of whether the employees’ primary duties are performed in or around trains.

To be eligible for compensation, plaintiffs must prove that they were the victims of negligence: not their own, of course, but that of another employer or of the company itself. FELA claims can be filed against the responsible party itself or brought to a state or federal court.

Negligence, in these cases, refers to any failure in the duty to create a reasonably safe work environment. This duty entails, among other things, keeping the job site free of hazards, providing appropriate safety equipment and setting up adequate safety training. Companies are also required to keep employees reasonably safe from the intentionally harmful actions of others. They must not overwork the employees either.

FELA claims require only a light, or “featherweight,” burden of proof, meaning that victims can be compensated as long as they make the slightest connection between a negligent action and their injuries. However, defendants can invoke the rule of comparative negligence and show that victims were at least partially responsible for their injuries.

Those who intend to file FELA claims may want to speak with a lawyer beforehand since they are likely to face opposition from the other side. Any negligence on victims’ part will proportionally lower the amount in damages that they are eligible for, but a lawyer, by handling all negotiations, may help ensure the maximum settlement. If successful, victims might be covered for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and mental distress both past and future.