If you are employed by a railroad, you may be wondering if you are covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) if a contractor caused your injury.
This act provides employees with a number of benefits and protections, including coverage for injuries that occur as a result of the employer’s negligence. In general, FELA applies when an employee is injured while working for a railroad.
And in most cases a contractor who is not employed by the railroad can still be held liable for the employee’s injuries.
From our Houston railroad attorneys here at Roven Camp, this article will explore these types of cases and explain how FELA applies.
FELA applies to railroad employees, even if the injury was caused by a contractor
Today, railroads employ a growing number of contractors to do work that used to be done by regular employees.
In Texas, railroads commonly hire transport van/taxi firms to transport railway workers between their homes and work from railway terminals or company-arranged lodgings such as hotels, which are yet more contractors. The railroad is responsible for the actions of these transporters or hotels, which are considered its contractors.
Many employees believe that the railway is not accountable for injuries. Fortunately, this is not the case in Texas.
Because contractors are deemed “agents” of the railroad under the FELA, such injuries are covered. If a hazardous condition is created by the contractor, both the contractor and the railway can be held responsible.
What happens when a contractor causes a railroad employee’s injury?
Here’s an example:
Let’s say a railroad employee living in Houston is carried by a taxi firm that the railroad hired, and the cab driver then goes through a red light and causes an accident, injuring the railroad employee.
The injured railroad employee will have claims against both the railroad and the cab company for negligence.
Despite the fact that the cab driver was solely to blame for the accident, the railroad is under obligation to its employees to ensure a safe work environment, which includes taxi services provided by contractors.
Not only can the railroad be held responsible for failing to provide a safe workplace, it can also be liable for failing to hire a safe driver. Railroads typically hire low-cost contractors who sometimes fail to invest in safety. As a result, many transport companies hire drivers that are not appropriately trained and lack professional driving experience.
What is FELA and what does it provide for employees more generally?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a United States law that provides railroad workers with a remedy for injuries sustained on the job. FELA was passed in 1908. The Act allows railroad workers and their families to recover compensation they need when they are injured in a work-related accident on the railroad.
In order to qualify for FELA, an injured railroad worker must be able to prove the following:
- The railroad he works for is engaged in interstate commerce (either running across state lines or deals with interstate freight).
- The injury to the worker is the result of the negligence or carelessness of an officer, agent, or employee of the railroad; or
- The injury is caused by a defect in the railroad’s cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, road bed, or any other equipment or road.
Under FELA, employees are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition, employees can file a lawsuit against their employer for negligence.
FELA applies when an employee is injured as the result of the negligence of his employer or a co-worker. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, however – including injuries that occur as a result of the employee’s own misconduct.)
The importance of filing a claim as soon as possible after a Texas railroad accident occurs
If you are injured on the job as a Texas railroad employee, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You should also notify your employer about the accident.
Equally important is filing a claim as soon as possible – especially since there is a 3 year time limit for filing these types of claims. This will help ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve and protect your rights.
A dedicated Houston railroad attorney can help you file your claim without delay.
Contact our Houston Railroad Injury and FELA Attorneys today
If you are a railroad employee who has been injured in Texas, even if the injury was caused by a contractor, you are still covered under FELA. At Roven Camp, we understand how complicated and intimidating this process can be.
That’s why we do everything we can to help our clients understand the railroad injury law process and fight to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and talk about your situation.