The Federal Employers’ Liability Act, often called FELA, is a federal law th
at governs the right to compensation for railroad workers who suffer personal injuries on the job. In 1908 Congress enacted FELA in response to anger over the number of injuries and deaths caused by working on the railroads. FELA protects the legal rights of injured railroad employees and does a better job than state workers’ compensation laws of taking into account the specific workplace dangers faced by railroad workers. Virginia FELA lawyer and railroad accident attorney Corey Pollard represents
FELA is considered the first great social legislation of the 1900s. Prior to FELA becoming law, an injured railroad worker had very little chance of retaining recovery against the railroad for its negligence. This is because the doctrine of contributory negligence controlled railroad injury cases. Under this doctrine, an injured railroader could not recover if he contributed to the accident and injuries – even if that contribution was minor. Railroads could also defend injury claims using the “fellow servant doctrine” and the argument that the injured railroad worker had “assumed the risk of employment.”
In some cases, such as those where the railroad violated the Federal Safety Appliance Act or Federal Boiler Inspection Act, the court will hold the railroad strictly liable for all injuries caused by the violation.