Does the fact I was hurt while working for a railroad automatically qualify me for benefits under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)?

The FELA is not a workers' compensation law which automatically covers employees that are injured while working for a railroad.  It is a "negligence" based law which means the employee must prove some type of negligence on the part of the railroad contributed in any way, "even in the slightest", to the injury suffered by the employee.  Although the FELA does not provide automatic coverage to employees injured while working for the railroad, the U.S. Supreme Court has directed courts handling FELA cases to keep in mind the Congressional intent of the stature, protection of railroad employees and to apply the protection of the laws liberally.  With this direction in mind, courts have interpreted the FELA to require a railroad to provide employees with a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably safe and suitable tools, and well as adequate assistance.  These general protections of railroad workers are in addition to safety regulations such as the Locomotive Inspection Act and Safety Appliance Act.

Randall E. Appleton
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia