Practice Area:

Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)

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Our attorneys have experience representing injured railroad workers in FELA lawsuits all around the country. We have represented railroad workers from every craft against all Class I railroads in the country, as well as numerous short-lines. If you have been injured on the railroad, we can help.


What is the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)?

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §51 et seq. is a United States federal law enacted by Congress in 1908 to protect and compensate railroad workers injured on the job.

What is repetitive or cumulative trauma?

These are injuries that don't occur as a single traumatic event.  Rather, these are injuries that occur over time as a result of your work.  For example, many railroaders incurred repetitive trauma injuries from years of getting on and off moving equipment and from bad seats in engines.  There are many other repetitive trauma injuries.

Why was it enacted?

In the late 1800's and early 1900's railroad traffic greatly increased. Unfortunately, so did the number of injuries and deaths to those working on the railroads.  The FELA was enacted specifically to protect sick, injured and even dead railroaders left by the side of the tracks with no way to recover for their losses. Prior to its inception there was no remedy for injured railroad workers. 

Is the FELA under attack?

You bet it is. Since its inception in 1908, the railroads and other corporate interests have fought to have the FELA rescinded.  That fight continues to this day and some politicians are in agreement with the railroads. Consider this when exercising your voting rights. 

What railroad employees are covered?

All crafts are covered including engineers, conductors, signalmen, electricians, dispatchers, maintenance of way, Carmen, brakemen and all other crafts including company officials.

What railroads are covered by the FELA?

If a railroad is engaged in interstate commerce, it falls under the FELA.  All of the major Class I, II and III railroads are covered but so are very small short line railroads if its tracks connect to other railroads tracks that engage in interstate commerce.

Is exposure to substances such as diesel exhaust, benzene, asbestos and others covered under the FELA?

Yes, however the exposure must be connected to your work on the railroad by a doctor and/or expert witness.

Is it different from Workers Compensation?

Yes. Unlike workers compensation, the FELA is a fault based system meaning that we must prove that your injuries were caused in whole or in part by the negligence of the railroad, its employees, agents or contractor, or from a faulty piece of equipment. If an injured worker is 100% at fault for his or her injuries, there can be no recovery under the FELA. However, if negligence can be proven, recovery under the FELA is potentially much greater than under workers compensation.

Do I have to let a supervisor attend my hospital or doctor visit?

If you are injured at work, most railroads will send a supervisor to the doctor with you.  While you cannot stop them from going to the facility, you are not required to allow the supervisor into the examination room and the supervisor is not entitled to hear or receive confidential patient-physician information.

Is there a time limit to file my case?

Yes, under the FELA you must file your case within 3 years of the time you knew or should have known that your injury was related to your work on the railroad.

What damages may I recover under the FELA?

The damages that may be recovered under the FELA vary from case to case, depending on the facts. The categories of potential damages that may be recovered include:

Pain and Suffering (Past and Future)
Lost Wages (Past and Future)
Loss of Benefits
Medical Expenses (Past and Future)
Loss of quality of life
Out of Pocket expenses
Economic loss to your dependents in the event of a death

Do I really need an attorney?

Yes. When a work-related injury is reported, the railroad immediately assigns a team of claims people and lawyers to begin working against you on your case.  These people are highly trained and work very hard to defeat or minimize the recovery to the injured railroader. They will take recorded statements of witnesses, perform reenactments of the injury producing event, collect documents and records, and any other evidence they can to use against you to defeat your claim. An experienced FELA attorney knows the tactics of the railroad and knows how to discover the documents and evidence that will support your case. 

Why should I hire Wilkins Schneller Law?

If you are injured on the railroad, you need attorneys who have knowledge and experience fighting against the railroads and protecting injured workers under the FELA. This is a very specialized area of law.  

At Wilkins Schneller Law, we have over 25 years of combined experience representing injured railroad workers in venues all around the country. We have won FELA cases against every major railroad in the country, as well as many Class II, Class III, and short line railroads. We treat all clients with common respect and decency.  You will not be just another client but rather an important part of our trial team.  You will have our cell phone number and you will be called back the very day you call us. We take a team approach to every case and hope to forge lifetime relationships with our clients. Contact us to get started now.