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Injured on a federal job? FELA may provide relief

Minnesota residents work hard to provide a living for themselves and their families. In order to perform their job duties, however, individuals need to feel safe in their work environment. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, as Minnesota residents can suffer serious injuries through their employment.

One prime example of this is with those individuals who work for the railroad industry. Railroad workers can suffer any number of injuries on the job, including common injuries like muscle strains, torn tendons, broken bones and herniated disks, as well as tragic injuries like traumatic brain injuries, amputations, toxic exposure and even death.

When railroad workers are injured or killed on the job, legal options are available for them and their families. There are different federal and state statutes that can provide relief, including the Federal Employers' Liability Act, otherwise known as FELA.

FELA requires the employer to provide its employees with a reasonably safe workplace. Accordingly, if the employer fails to exercise reasonable care to provide such a workplace, the injured worker can bring a cause of action to establish that the employee was injured by the employer's negligence. As with other negligence actions, this means the defendant did not use the care a reasonably prudent person would have used under the circumstances.

Courts faced with FELA claims have broadly applied the act to provide a remedy for railroad workers who are injured in a train accident or other job injury. Before the law, employers had many defenses that were available to escape being held liable for the employee's injury. For example, the employer could argue the employee assumed the risk of being injured. FELA abolished a number of these defenses, which makes it easier for the injured employee to hold the employer legally responsible for the injury and obtain an award of compensation.

Source: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, "Federal Employee Liability Act and Similar Statutes," accessed on Nov. 7, 2015

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