Train Derailments are More Common Than You Think
The recent train derailment in Ohio grabbed media attention because of the potential for contamination, effects on the environment, and risks to the surrounding area. However, there are many railroad accidents that are not covered by the news, and they happen more often than you think. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there are approximately 1,180 train derailments every year across the US. Based on an annual total of 1,765 train accidents, this means 66 percent of all incidents involved derailed cars.
Many of these derailments are freight trains, so the casualties tend to affect railroad workers instead of passengers. FRA reports that there are 11 fatalities and 3,375 injuries to employees every year. When workers are injured, they have legal remedies under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). The law creates a system similar to workers’ compensation, but there are key differences to note. An Oakland FELA railroad worker injury attorney will explain your options, and some background is useful.
FELA Overview: The statute creates a type of workers’ comp system in the sense that it provides injured employees with legal options after a workplace accident. However, the key distinction between FELA and California workers’ compensation laws is the concept of fault. With a workers’ comp claim, you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent to be entitled to benefits.
With FELA, you DO need evidence of fault. Specifically, you must show that your railroad employer failed to provide a reasonably safe work environment. Examples include:
- Failing to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including head gear, fall protection, gloves, and clothing for hazardous materials;
- Neglecting to conduct inspections of the locomotive, individual cars, tracks, and track switches;
- Failure to provide proper training, supervision, and assistance with job tasks; and,
- Not enforcing safety rules or regulations established by FRA and other government bodies.
Compensation Available Under FELA: There can be challenges with proving fault in a FELA claim, and these would not be an issue if you were filing a state workers’ comp claim. Still, there is another major difference with the laws that works in your favor. Under California’s workers’ comp system, injured employees cannot obtain compensation for pain and suffering.
When you qualify for benefits through FELA, there is a wider range of damages available. You can obtain amounts for:
- Medical treatment for your injuries, now and in the future;
- Your lost wages from being unable to work while recovering from your injuries;
- Future wage loss, if you cannot return to your job as a railroad worker; and,
- Losses for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring and disfigurement.
Consult with an Oakland Railroad Worker Injuries Lawyer About Your Rights
This information about FELA remedies is helpful, but it is important to retain legal counsel for assistance if you were hurt in a train derailment. For more information about recovering compensation, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP. We can schedule a no-cost case analysis with a railroad worker injuries attorney at our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA.