Understanding the Impact of Coworker Negligence on Your FELA Claim

One of the unique aspects of the protections the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) provides employees may recover under the Act for injuries caused by their fellow employees.  A railroad is responsible for injuries to an employee if the negligence of the railroad contributes “even in the slightest” to the cause of the injury.  There is a litany of duties a railroad must fulfill under the FELA:  provide employees a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably safe and suitable tools, adequate assistance, as well as complying with safety regulations enacted by the Department of Transportation.

A railroad is also responsible for injuries suffered by an employee which were caused, or contributed to, by the negligence of a fellow railroad employee.  Examples of such situations are when an employee gives inaccurate signals and equipment is shoved on a coworker in a nearby track or an employee drops an item on another employee causing an injury.

Although the negligent co‑employee may be named as a defendant in a FELA case filed as a result of coworker negligence, it is our practice to simply name the railroad as the defendant.  The negligent employee is usually considered the “agent” of the railroad in these circumstances and it is responsible for the negligence of its agents and employees per the language of the FELA.

The point is, if a railroad employee is injured because a coworker was negligent, a claim may exist against the railroad under the FELA.  We are happy to answer any questions regarding FELA claims via telephone or email.  Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

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