| History Behind the Implementation of FELA
In 1906, there were approximately four million railroad workers. During this time period, states began to implement laws to compensate workers injured on the job. The railroad industry opposed the law as these laws were no fault. In other words, the employee was compensated for an injury regardless of who caused it, as long as it happened at work.
FELA Then and Now |
FELA was enacted by Congress in 1908 to provide benefits for railroad workers injured during the course of their employment. In the words of Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, “The Federal Employers’ Liability Act was designed to put on the railroad industry some of the costs of the legs, arms, eyes, and lives which it consumed in its operation. Not all of these costs were imposed, for the Act did not make the employer an insurer. The liability which it imposed was the liability for negligence. ”Initially, the law was stacked in favor of the railroad. By 1939, amendments to the Act leveled the playing field and provided proper protection to railroad workers. Despite efforts of the railroads to amend or repeal the act, the FELA is still the exclusive remedy for railroad workers injured on the job.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)
is “a response to the special needs of railroad workers who are daily exposed to the risks inherent in railroad work and are helpless to provide adequately for their own safety.” (356 U.S. 326, Supreme Court of the United States)