Employees of interstate railroad companies such as BNSF and Union Pacific are liable to suffer extremely serious injuries if they are ever involved in an on-the-job accident. The Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) exists to ensure that train engineers, rail yard workers, and other railroad employees in Texas receive full and fair compensation whenever they are hurt within the scope and course of their employment.
Is My Injury Covered by FELA?
Although FELA will be applicable with regards to most injuries suffered by railroad workers in Texas, there are a couple of provisos. Firstly, the railroad company you work for must be engaged in interstate commerce. Secondly, the injury you suffered must have occurred while you were at work. Beyond that, any workplace injury you may have suffered will generally fall under FELA, including injuries that occurred on your lunch break at the rail yard or that occurred in BNSF’s offices in Fort Worth.
What Situations are Considered Within the Scope of Employment?
In order to make a successful claim against your employer, you and your attorney must be able to demonstrate that the accident which caused your injury occurred within the course and scope of your employment. In essence, this means that you were injured while performing any duty or task that in some way benefitted your employer. Historically, this has been interpreted rather broadly by both Texas and Federal juries.
What if I was Partially to Blame for the Accident Occurring?
One of the defining elements of the Federal Employer's Liability Act is that the railroad company is unable to argue that the injured railroad worker knew and assumed the risks of their work. Similarly, even if you were to some extent negligent yourself with regards to the accident that resulted in your injuries, it does not necessarily prohibit you from making a claim. In terms of percentage of fault, you are still able to make a claim for compensation even if you were 99 percent to blame and the railroad company was only 1 percent at fault. You will, of course, have to make sure that you hire the best possible attorney in order to make a successful claim under such circumstances.
Do I Have to Hire a Union-Approved Attorney?
No. Although your union probably has a list of attorneys with whom they have worked in the past, you have absolutely no obligation to hire one of their recommended attorneys. In fact, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer based on your own independent research. First of all, you want to make sure that you hire a lawyer who is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This means that they are in the top two percent of attorneys in the state. Secondly, you should try to hire an attorney that is local to you. If you work at Burlington Northern Santa Fe or Union Pacific, then it makes sense for you to hire an injured railroad employee lawyer in Fort Worth.
What if I Wasn’t Technically an Employee of the Railroad – Can I Still Make a Claim?
FELA exists to ensure that railroad employees recover the full and fair compensation they deserve after suffering an on-the-job injury. However, the law is rather broad in its description of exactly who is covered under FELA, and there are many circumstances where temporary contractors or third-party workers can indeed recover compensation under FELA. The key, of course, is ensuring that you hire an experienced FELA injury lawyer who fully understands the law and will work for your exclusive benefit.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury while working for Burlington Northern, Union Pacific, or any other railroad company in the North Texas area, please call the Anderson Law Firm today for a free, no obligation consultation with one of our board certified Fort Worth personal injury and wrongful death attorneys. Call us toll free from anywhere at 800-354-6275 or locally at 817-294-1900.
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