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How does negligence factor into a FELA claim?

| Jan 18, 2021 | Train Accidents

Anyone working in the Illinois railroad industry runs the risk of suffering an accident, and those who suffer injuries could file a workers’ compensation claim. Worries might exist about the initial claim suffering a denial due to questions about negligence. One thing working in the applicant’s favor is the “comparative negligence” rule related to the claim. While the employer must display a degree of negligence for an employee to present a legitimate claim, the negligence level does not need to be high for a successful claim.

Railroad injuries, filing for compensation and issues about negligence

Various professionals work in railroad related-jobs with injury risks. A welder, for example, could suffer extreme burns, injure an eye or inhale dangerous gases if not protected by proper equipment. Railroad workers may face injuries from slip-and-fall accidents, deliberate harm from fellow workers or train crashes. An injured worker could file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA, but the rules don’t establish “no-fault” compensation.

A slight contribution to negligence

With a fault-based claim, the employer must contribute to the negligent action for the employee’s claim to have merit. If an employee became intoxicated and returned to an unsafe environment after being escorted off the worksite, for example, a claim might be dubious. However, what if the employer failed to offer adequate training, improperly maintained or provided damaged safety equipment, forced them to work in unsafe weather conditions or did not establish policies to reduce known hazards? In these cases, claims that the employer contributed to the negligence may have merit.

Under FELA statutes, an employer needs to be “somehow negligent” to be liable for injuries. The injured worker need not show that the employee contributed significant negligence; even a slight amount could be enough for a valid claim.

FELA rules do not require a high burden of proof for liability in workers’ compensation claims. However, filing a claim may prove complicated for the applicant. Working with an attorney to file a railroad injury claim might be advisable.

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