Working on the railroad can be dangerous, particularly for maintenance and track engineer workers. A federal law that was put into place in 1908 was intended to protect railroad workers. It is called the Federal Employers Liability Law (FELA) and was intended to protect workers on Amtrak, commuter and freight rail lines working in New York and around the nation. As railroad law, it is not without its problems.

There are two recent cases of injured rail workers in another state who brought suits against the state for their injuries. The state transit agency claims immunity from such suits under FELA. In addition, the state agency had previously requested that a federal court drop similar suits claiming immunity based on the 11th Amendment that implies that as a state entity it enjoys immunity from suits filed in federal court.

This leaves the two current injury cases in limbo. Labor and legal representatives have stated that this leaves the state’s railroad workers with nowhere to turn for protection for workplace injuries. A state compliance officer warned lawmakers that the transit agency was taking advantage of a legal loophole but lawmakers declined to address the issue.

People who work for the railroad industry go to work every day and perform dangerous jobs to keep the nation’s trains and railroad tracks safe. When an injury occurs, the means to provide the care for the workers should be forthcoming under the railroad law as the law intended. A person who suffers such an injury should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney in New York who can apprise the client of his or her rights and ensure that those rights are protected.