Georgia FELA Lawyers
At the turn of the 20th century, railroads offered people more than just the thrill of exploration and a chance to travel. For thousands of workers, the railroads also offered plenty of new jobs. Working on the railroad became a new calling for displaced immigrants and poor refugees of the Southern Reconstruction period following the Civil War. And with this mass exodus out west came thousands of annual injuries and death: Railroad workers suffered from gruesome accidents, the result of which meant nothing to the companies for which they labored.
In 1888, a railroad brakeman might who suffered a work-related injury was very likely to sustain those injuries for life, and in 1893, the life expectancy after a railroad-related injury was only seven years. In those days, they didn’t have the benefit of Georgia FELA Lawyers to assist them with their cases, and even if they had, no one would have cared.
If those facts shock and appall you, then they should. By 1908, people had had enough of the railroad companies’ indifference towards its employees. The U.S. Supreme Court enacted the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). With this law, they attempted not only to reduce a person’s injuries caused by work-related accidents but also to force railroad companies to take responsibility.
This effectively became one of the most notable pieces of social legislation because it called for companies to take their laborers’ injuries seriously. Prior to the FELA, railroad workers were actually considered to blame for their own injuries because they assumed the risk when they took the job. If a fellow employee was involved, the injured party could not sue thanks to the “Fellow Servant Doctrine,” and if the injured worker had any responsibility at all, they would receive no award. In most cases, the injured worker received zero compensation.
All of this changed with the FELA. Now, workers could reclaim their rights as American citizens and federal employees. They could hire Georgia FELA Lawyers for help. The “assumed risk” no longer applied and neither did the “Fellow Servant Doctrine.” Workers who were partially at fault for their accident did not automatically get barred from bringing suit or recovering compensation. Rather, the amount they could collect was reduced by the amount of negligence on their part. So an employee who would normally receive $10,000 in compensation would now receive an adjusted amount based on his own negligence.
In essence, the FELA offered injured employees to seek fair and reasonable compensation from the railroad companies. Even better, the railroad companies now had to pay close attention to previously enacted legislation such as the Federal Boiler Inspection Act or Federal Safety Appliance Act. If they failed on these accounts, then the worker was entitled to full compensation because the company was negligent.
Changes & Legal Ramifications
Like all federal regulations, the FELA has undergone some significant changes. In 1939, the assumption of risk factor was eliminated by Congress. They also made it criminal for a railroad company to penalize workers who shared information about accidents and injuries with fellow employees or their Georgia FELA Lawyers. Over the next several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court redefined the word “cause” effectively making it so that if a railroad company is even partially responsible for a worker’s injuries, the company is now fully responsible for damages.
If you’re a railroad employee, then you need to familiarize yourself with the history of this important piece of legislation. However, with the intricacies of the law and the fact that railroad companies are still getting away with negligence, an attorney should evaluate your claim to find the best course of action. You need to prove that the railroad was negligent; otherwise, the company can get away on a technicality. If the company provided an unsafe working environment or failed to uphold federal regulations in any way, then you may have cause for a claim of negligence. Georgia FELA Lawyers can help you get the compensation you need, and the staff at Georgia Injury Attorney Group have the expertise you need to hold your railroad company responsible for your work-related injuries.
If you think that state worker’s compensation will help you, then you may by mistaken. Different rules apply in these situations, and only a knowledgeable staff of Georgia FELA Lawyers will be able to wade through the complex legal system to get you the maximum benefits. Every year, lobbyists for the railroad industry attempt to chip away at the protections offered by the FELA. Don’t let this important regulation. Unions have been fighting hard every year to ensure that railroad laborers get the compensation they need. If you’ve suffered a railroad injury and need help with this complex legal issue, then contact the Georgia Attorney Group today.