Defenses Commonly Used in FELA Liability Cases

Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, railroads have to provide a working environment that is reasonably safe. This involves supplying safe tools, machinery, and equipment and following all recognized safety protocols and safe working methods. 

What defense tactics am I likely to encounter in my FELA claim?

Although this is the law, it is not always the case. In court, most carriers use the same few defenses time and again. If you are considering filing a claim against a railroad company, you are probably going to hear some of them. 

If were injured during the scope and course of your job as a railway worker, you need the assistance of a trusted and experienced railroad injury lawyer to ensure you obtain the financial recovery you are entitled to. 

The Virginia railroad accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp know what it takes to win your case. We have been winning railroad accident cases since 1985. Call our Virginia Beach law firm today to schedule a free evaluation of your FELA claim. 

What Are the Main Defenses That FELA Uses?

The defenses you are most likely to hear as your FELA claim progresses are:

If it was so dangerous, why has no one else complained?

There are a lot of reasons for a lack of complaints about a dangerous workplace situation such as apathy, the reporting process being intentionally difficult or time-consuming, and fear of retribution. Regardless of whether or not prior complaints have been lodged, FELA states that the carrier’s duty to inspect is non-delegable.  

We didn’t actually cause the issue.

By simply passing the buck, the defense ignores the carrier’s legal obligation to take responsibility for third parties. A contractor or anybody else on the premises is an agent of the carrier. Therefore, the carrier is liable for their misdeeds just as though they were their own employees.  

We had no idea it was unsafe. 

The legal phrase for this is lack of notice. Unfortunately for the railroad, the law says they are responsible if they were aware or should have been aware of a hazardous situation. So, if a routine inspection would have uncovered the hazard, the carrier is still liable.  

You are the one who caused the problem. 

When nothing else is working, you can always blame the victim. Referred to in polite society as comparative negligence, the railway is effectively saying that since your own negligence contributed to your injury, their contribution to it does not matter.  

If you are injured at work, both you and the railway company could be at fault. How much liability falls on the carrier will be determined based on its degree of negligence.  

It wasn’t that dangerous. 

Under FELA, all carriers are required to provide a reasonably safe working environment. However, as modern tools and equipment and industry procedures change, what is considered reasonable also changes. Overcoming this defense requires a working knowledge of how other railways accomplish the same task.    

Talk to a Virginia FELA Attorney Today

If you sustained an injury while working on a railroad, you may be eligible to file a FELA claim. A reputable Virginia FELA attorney can make sure you understand the legal process and that you are fairly and justly remunerated for your workplace injuries.  

The personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has been handling complex FELA cases for more than 40 years. We pride ourselves on putting our clients and their needs first. We can explain all of your legal options to you during a free consultation. Schedule yours today by calling (833) 997-1774. 

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