FELA, formerly known as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, was created to protect railroad workers before workers’ compensation laws were common in each state. A FELA or work accident lawyer can help you navigate this process should you be injured while working on the railroad.

Because railroads operate across state lines, federal protection was necessary to ensure a railroad worker is covered for work-related injuries wherever they occur. There are some important differences between FELA and standard workers’ compensation claims. Let’s look into how to file a FELA claim and achieve a settlement or judgment which covers railroad injuries.

How A FELA Claim Differs from a Workers’ Comp Claim

An employee injured on the job and who needs to file a workers’ compensation claim will only need to prove that the accident or injury happened during and in the scope of their work. These claims can be simpler to manage because employer negligence does not need to be established.

FELA claims require that the injured railroad worker can prove their employer was negligent, and that their injury was directly caused by that negligence. In non-legal terms, the railroad must have clearly failed to protect employee safety, and those unsafe conditions must have caused your injury.

What Is the Process to File a FELA Claim?

Because the FELA process has strict requirements and a complex claim process, you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney before trying to file a claim yourself. A FELA claim follows these steps, with several paths to resolution:1

  • Immediately following the injury, you must file an accident report.
  • The railroad and your attorney will investigate the accident, determine if there was negligence, and document the injuries sustained.
  • A settlement negotiation meeting may happen next, where you and your attorney will determine if the railroad is willing to offer fair compensation for your injuries.
  • If a settlement cannot be reached, your FELA workers’ comp lawyer may recommend filing a civil action in court, and then prepare and file a legal complaint on your behalf.
  • Your work accident attorney might recommend participation in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is a type of formal mediation toward a settlement, voluntarily or by order of the court.
  • The issue will go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached, where the judge or jury will hear evidence, reach a verdict, and award a judgment to the victim if appropriate.

Types of Railroad Accidents

Workers in bright uniforms lay railway or tram tracks

FELA work injury lawyers are proficient at navigating this process and are familiar with the serious and life-changing accidents that trains can cause, including:

  • Coupling accidents
  • Loose train cars striking pedestrian workers
  • Collisions at crossings
  • Cumulative trauma from physical labor

What to Do if You Suffer an Injury at Work

Work-related personal injury claims can be filed under many industry-specific laws, which may go beyond workers’ compensation. Engaging with a trusted work accident lawyer in Texas offers protection for your financial future and the compensation you need to recover.

Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers provide Texas injury victims the benefits of over 100 years of trial experience and knowledge in the federal personal injury claims process that can guide you when the worst happens at work. File an injury report and avoid making any other statements until you talk to us. Getting your life back on track is easier with the right representation on your side.


  1. https://injury.findlaw.com/workers-compensation/chronology-of-a-fela-claim.html