Godwin Hurley Donoghue, LLP

FELA offers protections for workers and companies

Working in a rail yard can be dangerous work in New York and elsewhere. A man in another state recently suffered a severe injury while performing his job. The Federal Employers Liability Act exists to protect workers and companies in such cases. Where workers' compensation regulations exist for other employee protections, FELA exists to protect railroad workers in the event of a serious workplace injury.

A worker was sorting empty rail cars when the accident occurred. He was setting a hand brake on the last of a string of cars when additional cars collided with them causing a car to roll over his left foot. He was wearing a steel toed boot but the accident left him with compound fractures that led to 13 surgeries. Complications led to the eventual amputation of his left leg beneath the knee. After rehabilitation, the worker returned to his job and intends to stay as long as he is capable of performing that job.

A jury recently returned a verdict in the case. The initial award was $7,112,071 which was reduced to $3,485,000. This was based in the jury finding that there was liability on both sides and that the company's share of the liability amounted to 49 percent. It is not known if the case will be appealed.

Suffering a serious injury on the job can have a life-altering effect on a person. While many injuries are covered under workers' compensation laws, railroad workers are covered under FELA. Anyone suffering such an injury in New York could benefit from seeking legal counsel from an attorney experienced in railroad law. A lawyer can inform one of one's right and help to ensure that those rights are protected throughout the legal process.

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