Railroad FELA Claims: What Situations are Considered Within the Scope of Employment?

No one ever wants to have to sue their employer for compensation after an accident, but unfortunately injured railroad workers and train engineers have little choice but to hire a qualified Fort Worth injury attorney to make a claim for compensation against the train or railroad company under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).


Unfortunately, making a successful injury claim after a railroad injury accident is not as easy a task as you might assume – which is why it is so important that the legal team you chose to represent you is board certified in personal injury trial law.


Firstly, there are two crucial factors which must be proven in order to establish your right to make a FELA injury claim in Texas:

  1. Your employer must be engaged in interstate commerce; and
  2. Your injuries were experienced within the course and scope of your employment


Definition of “Interstate Commerce”

Since FELA is a Federal law, it only applies to railroad workers who have been injured while working for a company which operates across state boarders. Generally, this is very easy to establish since most major freight and passenger railroad companies (such as BNSF or Union Pacific) operate their trains not just in Fort Worth and Texas - but throughout the US.


To better clarify whether or not your accident can be considered to fit within this definition, consider the example of a yard brakeman who is injured on an intrastate car while building an interstate train. Because he is building an interstate train, his activities are considered to be under the scope of interstate commerce, which means he would qualify to make a claim under FELA.


The following examples are all also examples of interstate commerce:

  • all movements of interstate cars, including a switching movement within one yard, form a part of the entire interstate transportation
  • because an interstate train in a switching yard retains its interstate character, a switchman injured in the process of adding care to that train is covered by FELA
  • where an interstate train picks up or sets out cars at a rail yard, such action is incident to interstate transportation, whether the individual cars are interstate or local in character


Definition of “Within the Course and Scope of Employment”

This can be phrased in one of several ways, but essentially means that you were injured while on the job, performing some duty or task which in some way benefitted your employer. However, as a Fort Worth FELA attorney, I know that this employment requirement has typically been interpreted broadly by both Texas and Federal juries.


One such court defined the “scope of employment” as encompassing “acts incidental to the employment as well as the actual work.” This means that acts such as eating lunch on company property, sleeping in accommodations provided by the employer during a layover necessitated by railroad work, or riding in a vehicle (other than commuting to or from work) when doing so is a necessary incident of the day's work. Each of these acts can reasonably be considered within the course and scope of your employment, and to your employer's benefit.


Make Sure You Understand Your Legal Rights

If you are ready to talk to a Board Certified personal injury lawyer about making a FELA claim – or even if you just want more information – please call the Anderson Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation on your claim. Our attorneys work on a “no win, no fee” basis, which means we only get paid when we have successfully resolved your FELA claim.


Call us today, toll free from anywhere at 800-354-6275 or locally in Fort Worth at 817-294-1900.



Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:

Understanding an Injured Railroad Worker's Right to Make a Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) Claim in Texas

Contributory Negligence and Assumption of Risk

Making a Railroad FELA Wrongful Death Claim in Texas

Texas Railroad FELA Injury Claims: Normal Affirmative Defenses Barred


Mark A. Anderson
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Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas