Railroad workers nationwide earned a victory last month thanks to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision that protected the level of causation injured railroad employees must prove in order to recover damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA was passed by Congress in 1908 as a means for railroad workers to seek compensation if injured in a railroad accident. FELA requires the injured person to prove that the railroad company—or a party representing the company—was at least partially negligent in causing the injury. The case before the Supreme Court focused on an engineer who was injured on the job in 2004 while maneuvering a locomotive that he alleged was not suited for switching operations. A federal district court had already ruled in the engineer’s favor, and his employer—CSX—appealed, arguing that injured railroad workers should meet a higher standard of proving negligence. But the Supreme Court ruled that previous courts had correctly interpreted the standards established in FELA. “Juries in such cases are properly instructed that a defendant railroad ‘caused or contributed to’ a railroad worker’s injury ‘if negligence played a part—no matter how small—in bringing about the injury.’ That, indeed, is the test Congress prescribed for proximate causation in FELA cases,” wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the decision. For answers to common questions about FELA claims, please see our FELA FAQ page. If you’ve been injured in a railroad accident, please contact the experienced Mobile, Alabama, railroad accident attorneys at Long & Long to schedule your free consultation.

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