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FELA Fundamentals

FELA Fundamentals

It is reported in the Interstate Commerce Commission Report (764) that in 1901, 2,675 railroad employees were killed and 41,142 were injured. In the early 1900s the average life expectancy of a switchman employee was seven years, and a brakeman’s chance of dying from natural causes was less than one in five. Congress recognized the need to address these alarming statistics and in 1908 enacted the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. with the aim of promoting railroad safety and providing a remedy for railroad employees injured as a result of their employers’ negligence. The FELA was designed to put on the railroad industry some of the cost for the legs, eyes, arms and lives which it consumed in its operations. The FELA makes a railroad liable in damages to any person employed by a railroad suffering injury or death resulting, even in the slightest from the negligence of any of the officers, agents or employees of the railroad, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed … or other equipment.  The FELA provides the exclusive remedy for compensating injured railroad workers and their survivors.

While the FELA is recognized as a favorable law for injured railroad employees, it is not an absolute liability law. Even though the FELA was passed to protect the rights of injured railroad employees, the simple fact that an on the job occurred does not automatically guarantee financial recovery. The injured railroad worker must prove that the railroad was negligent in order to recover compensation. Before you are entitled to recover any compensation for your injuries, under the FELA you must prove all of the following elements:

  • That at the time of your injury you were working in the course and scope of  your employment with the railroad engaged in interstate commerce.
  • That your injury was caused, at least in part, as a result of the railroad’s negligence in failing to provide you with a reasonably safe place to work. There are several legal theories that can be pursued to prove the railroad’s negligence in a  FELA case.
  • That as a result of your injuries and the railroad’s negligence, you have sustained damages which may include both economic and non-economic damages.
Great Lawyer!

Jeff Chod was my lawyer in a suit against MRL in Missoula Montana.He
distinguished himself in a very professional manner. His hard work,
extensive knowledge and attention to detail enabled me to get a
satisfactorysettlement. He was easily accessible and quickly attended to all my
questions and worries. I highly recommend Jeff to anyone due to his work
ethic and willingness to go that extra mile to insure his client gets the best
possible results.

~ Brian, Victor, MT
Changed my life

I met Mr. Chod in 2007. It was the best decision I have ever made to
hire him. I was injured and scared, and he did not know me, but gave
me confidence, told me to focus on getting better and he would take
care of the rest. Amazingly he did and I made also a friend for life.

~ Tony, Amelia, OH
My experience was outstanding

As a former MOW employee for Wisconsin Central Railroad in need of an
injury attorney, it has been my experience that good FELA attorneys are hard
to find. After having to fire my first attorney due to a very frustrating
experience, I found attorney Chod and from that point on, my experience
was nothing short of outstanding. Jeff treated me personally with
compassion as if I were his only client and understood completely
the seriousness of my injury. He fought a very long and
tough battle against a team of very high powered attorneys
with due diligence...

~ Todd, Wausau, WI
Railroad Incident

I hired Mr. Chod after I had an incident at a mine here in
Wyoming when I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad
and he did an excellent job of settling my case. Mr. Chod
worked well with myself and the doctors he talked to and
other railroad employees.

~ Connie, Douglas, WY
When you need a winner, he is your guy...

In September of 2014 I suffered a career ending injury at BNSF Railway. The RR choose to not do the right thing even though I continued to have faith in them. I talked to Jeff on a recommendation of a friend after many broken promises by BNSF. I had only done one thing wrong that night, and that was trusting BNSF to accurately train, and prepare a operator to safely work along side me. I talked with Jeff and he helped ease my mind and finally realize that the RR was not conducting themselves in my best interest or livelihood. My injuries physically were were permanent and the PTSD was overwhelming and learning to deal with it was life altering. Jeff worked tirelessly for me and my future well-being. He fought them like David and Goliath and we won.

~ Lisa, Memphis, TN
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