What Is the Controversy Surrounding the Federal Employers Liability Act?
Traditionally, there has been a long-standing controversy surrounding the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and the benefits it offers to railroad workers. According to Andy Williams, an injury lawyer who practices in Missouri at Rathmann Law Offices, L.L.C., many people question whether railroad workers deserve the special rights afforded to them under the FELA.
In reality, Williams says, the special benefits and protections given to railroad workers make more sense when considering the conditions that these men and women work under on a daily basis. In many cases, these conditions are far more arduous and potentially dangerous than the conditions that a traditional office worker might expect to endure.
First and foremost, railroad workers can easily work in more than one state in a given day. In fact, Williams says, many individual railroad workers actually end up working in three or four different states in a single 24-hour period. This could make it difficult if one of these workers were to file a workers compensation claim, since it could be unclear where his accident or injury actually occurred. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, explains Williams, and a railroad worker who crosses a border could suddenly be subject to an entirely new set of laws governing when he can and cannot sue for an injury that happened on the job. If the FELA were not in place, then filing a workplace injury claim could easily be confusing for the worker and his attorney.
When the FELA was created, it was written in a way that makes it easier for railroad workers to receive benefits once injured. One of the primary goals of the FELA was to create a uniform law that covers all railroad workers across state lines. This has traditionally been advantageous for both the workers and the railroad companies, says Williams.
As a personal injury lawyer in Missouri who specializes in helping injured railroad workers, Williams says that safety issues have long plagued the railroad industry. When the FELA was written, it was meant to serve as a type of recognition that the railroad industry was – and still is – a more dangerous workplace than most others out there. The fact that railroad cars to this day are still put together – or “coupled” – by essentially colliding at high speeds is a testament to the dangers associated with this profession.
Slowly but surely, individual state workers compensation laws are becoming more uniform in an effort to match up with the FELA. As an injury lawyer in Missouri, Williams has heard talk in Congress about repealing the FELA and letting railroad workers pursue their legal actions under a new set of uniform workers compensation laws.
There has been some resistance to this, however, not just by the railroad workers but also by the railroad companies themselves. Railroad workers like the FELA because it gives them freedom to choose their own doctors if they are injured on the job, and railroad companies like the FELA because it prevents against large monetary awards going to employees whose injuries were not caused by unsafe working conditions. All parties directly involved tend to like this particular system as it is.
This article is for informational purposes only. You should not rely on this article as a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, and you should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Publication of this article and your receipt of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. You should not rely on this article as a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, and you should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Publication of this article and your receipt of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.