Injured Railroad Worker? Here’s How to Recover Compensation

an injured railroad worker lying on the ground

Railroad workers may sustain work-related injuries on the job, in which cases they may seek compensation under the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA). Railroad workers are frequently at risk of sustaining injuries on the job, and FELA details their rights and obligations following a work-related injury.

How FELA Protects Railroad Workers

FELA began under Congress to provide sufficient recovery and compensation to railroad workers if they sustain work-related injuries. Prior to FELA’s introduction in 1908, regular workers’ compensation didn’t provide many benefits for injuries.

The large number of injuries and deaths in this industry led to the creation of FELA to offer better compensation for workers who were frequently at risk of serious injury.

How FELA Differs from Traditional Workers’ Compensation

There are several fundamental differences between standard workers’ compensation and FELA. 

First, under FELA, injured rail workers need to prove that the employer was at least partially a fault to file a successful claim through this entity, which operates using a tort-based system. In traditional workers’ comp law, fault doesn’t come into play.

Another difference is that the damages in FELA cases often deal with higher monetary values than standard workers’ compensation cases. These damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering based on the jury’s decision. In ordinary workers’ comp cases, only medical costs and lost wages would apply.

To help achieve the best possible outcome in a FELA case, injured workers may want to consult with a railroad accident lawyer to discuss their case.

Common Causes of Rail Worker Accidents

Rail workers frequently face risks on the job that could cause serious injuries or fatalities. In addition to pain and suffering, railroad workers frequently experience financial and emotional distress because of these accidents, which may occur under many circumstances and in a variety of locations along railways.

Some of the most common types of accidents involving railroad workers include:

Equipment Accidents

Many types of equipment used in railroad work pose certain dangers. Although workers normally undergo proper training to ensure they safely use these tools, accidents involving equipment can still take place, particularly if insufficient training and supervision are implemented.

Some different equipment used in this industry include hammers and linking tools, all of which can cause catastrophic injury in the event of accidents or improper use.


If railroad workers need to lift items that are too heavy or overreach to grab a tool or another item, this could result in overexertion and subsequent injuries. 

Dangerous Fumes and Noise Levels

Another potential issue involves toxic fumes or dangerous noise levels, which railroad companies often fail to mitigate. As a result, many workers sustain permanent damage to certain parts of the body, including their ears and lungs.

Train or Other Vehicle Impact

Rail workers may also sustain injuries due to impact from trains, or they may get involved in motor vehicle accidents with other cars or trucks nearby.

Types of Injuries That Railway Workers Sustain

All the accidents that railway workers may experience could cause incidents that lead to serious injury or death. These potential causes of injuries include:


Trucks, forklifts, or other vehicles could collide with other railway workers, property, or vehicles to cause injury to drivers, riders, or workers who are on foot at the time of the collision.

Overexertion Injuries

Rail workers may sustain injuries when performing tasks such as applying handbrakes, operating switches, or lifting items that are too heavy, resulting in strains, sprains, or other more serious injuries.

Hearing Damage

Excessive noise levels could cause damage to workers’ hearing over time, particularly after long periods of exposure.


The most common cause of injuries in this industry is a fall, which could involve workers tripping or slipping and falling over certain objects or on slick surfaces.

The Importance of Seeking Compensation Soon After an Injury

Like other workers’ compensation cases, FELA cases have a statute of limitations. According to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, railroad workers have three years to file a case with FELA, which begins from the time of the accident. However, this period may be extended if an employee doesn’t discover injuries until long after the initial incident.

While three years may seem like plenty of time to file a claim, it’s best to get started on the claims process as soon as possible after sustaining a work injury. This is because recovering compensation could take time, and it may benefit the worker to recover it before medical bills and other costs have the chance to accumulate.

Following any type of work-related accident and injuries, rail workers still have options available to them regarding compensation. Under FELA, these employees can file a claim to recover damages resulting from a work-related accident if the employer was partially at fault.