Railroad Injury FELA Injury Lawyers Use Safety Regulations Against Railroads | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

While representing railroad workers in injury cases, our FELA lawyers expend great effort investigating, along with our investigators, whether a railroad complied with pertinent federal and state safety statutes and regulations that may apply to any circumstances of the client injury.


Violations of those rules mean the railroad cannot make a case for its reduced liability by arguing the employeer’s contributory fault. Further, regulatory noncompliance means the worker plaintiff does not need to prove any careless or negligent conduct by the railroad in order to succeed in his or her claim.


Many times, regulatory violations are not obvious. If a train air brake system malfunctions and stops a train suddenly and without warning, for instance, then a conductor gets hurt while inspecting the brakes becuase he tripped over debris, is that a regulatory violation? Sure is. As established in many federal lawsuits, the conductor’s injuries would be determined to have resulted from a safety appliance malfunction. The rail operator would be held liable under the railroad Safety Appliance Act.

Likewise, if the train engine, controls, gauges or radio communication system failed, and an engineer is injured as a result of the malfunction, the accident could be litigated under the regulatory framework of the Locomotive Safety Inspection Act.

Also, if an injury arises from a violation of radio dispatch regulations, the railroad has strict liability. This means all the hurt employee needs to do to make his or case against the company is provide proof of the violation and link that violation to the injury. No careless employer conduct must be proved. A judge must simply decide the full and fair compensation owed the to worker. The worker’s contributory fault would not be relevant, so the railroad’s efforts to partly blame the employee for his her wounds and disability become inadmissible.

Technically radio dispatch procedures fall under the Safety Appliance Act.

The following legal brief for a case involving a head-on collision of two trains presents our explanation of railroad violations of safety regulations. It also lays out our argument that railroad dispatcher radio regulatory violations caused the injuries to our client and that, therefore, the company’s own rules for worker job performance were irrelevant. The main cause was the regulatory violated by the other railroad employee.

Click here to read the brief outlining railroad radio dispatch regulation violations by a railroad.