Most railroad employees understand that when they are physically injured while employed with the railroad, and that injury was in whole or in part caused by the negligence of the railroad, they are entitled to sue under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq. Most, but not all railroad employees understand that when there is an issue concerning a violation of their rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, this dispute is covered by the Federal Rail Safety Act. However, often railroad employees are confused, and not sure if they are entitled to sue their employer, or whether they must file a grievance when there has been a violation of work-related rules that have caused some sort of psychological, emotional, or non-physical injury. It is important for the union worker to understand his or her rights under FELA and the FRSA.
The right of railroad workers to seek compensation for injuries suffered on the job is governed by the Federal Employers Liability Act, also known as FELA. Under FELA, injured railroad workers can sue for damages caused by their employers’ negligence or carelessness in state or federal court. The benefits available under a FELA claim are generally far greater than would be available under a state workers’ compensation claim. In FELA, the language of the Act is as follows:
…shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed
by such carrier in such commerce, or in case of the death of such employee…
resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or
employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its
negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats,
wharves, or other equipment…
Most FELA cases are easy to recognize. There has been a physical injury resulting from either a fall, a collision between trains or vehicles, an injury resulting from the violation a Safety Appliance Act causing a distinct physical injury such as a fracture of a bone, herniation of a disc, or head injury. When the negligence of the railroad causes a non-physical injury, i.e., emotional distress, fears, psychological problems of any sort, discrimination, or mental trauma resulting from witnessing a catastrophic injury of another employee, this causes uncertainty for both the union and the employee. These are what is known as psychic injuries, and whether or not they are compensable, and whether or not the employee can sue the railroad for the resulting non-physical or emotional type injuries depends on a wide variety of circumstances and details that may not make a lot of sense to the railroad employee
In late 2008, Congress passed a new law, Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA, 49 U.S.C. 20109), which protects rail employees who engage in a “protected activity” and prohibits rail employers from interfering with the right of employees to seek medical help.
What is Protected Activity?
- Reporting any type of injury, whether traumatic or “occupational”
- Reporting fraud, waste or abuse of public funds
- Refusing to work under dangerous conditions
- Refusing to work with unsafe equipment, track or structures
- Reporting any violation of federal law
- Furnishing or being a witness in a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) case
Interfering, delaying or denying any medical treatment to an employee for an on-the-job injury is prohibited.
Remedies of Violations of FRSA
If you are terminated or disciplined for any of the above, you are entitled to:
- Back pay
- Punitive damages of up to $250,000
- Special damages and fees including attorney fees, litigation costs and expert fees
You must file a claim within 180 days of any alleged violation.
Types of Railroad Injuries
Accidents: Any railroad-related traumatic injury including slip, trip and fall accidents;
use of equipment; malfunctioning equipment; lack of equipment; locomotive
hazards; electrical shocks or other injuries stemming from work
- Asbestos, mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
- Toxic chemicals exposure, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, tremors and memory loss from exposure to solvents
- Carpal tunnel syndrome or other nerve injuries from exposure to repetitive motions
- Hearing loss stemming from exposure to excessive noise
- Welding fume disease
- Diesel fume exposure
At McEldrew Law, we are experienced railroad injury lawyers with a strong record of success in FELA claims, injured railroad workers, traumatic injury, repetitive stress , and toxic exposure. We have a proven and successful track record of handling claims on behalf of injured railroad workers. In nearly three decades in practice, attorney McEldrew has earned a reputation as one of the most effective railroad workers’ attorneys in the country. He has served as the director of the FELA program for the Transport Workers Union, and is the designated counsel for the Transport Workers Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with members working at Amtrak, Conrail, Norfolk Southern, Metro North, PATH, CSX and New Jersey Transit. He has served as a lecturer at the George Meany School of Labor Relations, where he instructed union representatives on techniques for arbitrating railroad cases.
We have built a strong record of success for injured railroad workers, obtaining six- and seven-figure verdicts and settlements. Recently, we negotiated a $2 million settlement on behalf of a coach cleaner that sustained electrical burns when on top of an MU when the safety catch failed to properly secure the pantograph. We will help you recover compensation for all your losses, including:
- Loss of past and future wages
- Any medical expenses (past or future) not covered by insurance
- Physical or emotional pain and suffering
- Permanent, partial or total disability
- Disfigurement or scarring
At McEldrew Law, we have protected the rights of injured people, including railroad workers who have suffered on-the-job railroad injuries in and around Philadelphia for more than 30 years. We built our practice on a strong commitment to personal service and attention, carefully selecting each client we represent so that we can devote our full energy, efforts and resources to getting the results you need. We take a hands-on approach, working directly with you at all stages of the legal process.
For a free initial consultation with an experienced railroad injury lawyer, contact us online or call us at 1-215-545-8800. We can meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. Under the right circumstances, we will travel to meet with you.