The railroad industry is unique, and the jobs of the hardworking men and women who labor on America's railways can be difficult and dangerous.

Injuries to railroad workers are much more common than in almost all other industries. Signal malfunctions, brake failure, defective equipment, poor communication, exposure to dangerous chemicals, and many other unsafe conditions can cause a serious or fatal workplace accident.

Recognizing the hazards these individuals face every day, and for well over a century, the federal government enacted the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in 1908. This law protects rail workers and gives them a mechanism to obtain compensation for any on-the-job injuries.


Around 4000

railroad workers are injured every year


As a railroader, many of your rights are governed by laws that don’t apply to other people. And when your rights are violated, you don’t want just any injury lawyer to represent you – you need an attorney devoted to handling railroader lawsuits.

Attorney referrals

Year after year, we deliver unmatched results.

Clients say it Best

I want to thank you again for what you have done for my family...


We are always looking for people who will add to our continuing success.

News & Case Alerts

Read related articles and learn about recently filed cases.

Railroad workers need attorneys who understand railroad injury law

While FELA has allowed countless railroad employees to get the money and resources they need and deserve after a workplace accident, claims under this law are complicated and distinct from other types of personal injury or workers' compensation claims. The compensation sought by an injured worker comes out of the railroad's pockets, which will do everything it can to deny or minimize their liability for the accident.

Level the playing field

Because railroads will fight to minimize injured workers' compensation, injured railroad workers need attorneys who understand FELA's nuances and have the skill, determination, and advocacy skills to stand up to railroad companies that fail to meet their responsibilities.

At Sommers Schwartz, our Michigan railroad injury lawyers are recognized authorities in FELA law and have represented injured rail workers and their families for decades.

Attorney Arvin Pearlman, a veteran litigator who has handled FELA claims since 1979, leads our railroad injury team. Leveraging his experience and insights, Sommer Schwartz's attorneys aggressively pursue maximum compensation for rail workers hurt or killed on the job.

Our team will aggressively fight on behalf of railroad workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 rail workers died, and nearly 4,000 were injured in workplace accidents in 2018. Between 1993 and 2002, 1,221 railroad employees died due to on-the-job accidents.

IN 2019

3,915 injuries

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 3915 railroad worker injuries in 2019.

IN 2018

3942 injuries

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 3942 railroad worker injuries in 2018.

In 2019

22 fatalities

According to the Railroad Workers United Fallen Rails Program, 22 railroaderswere killed on the job in 2019.

Railroad Workers

30 percent

Railroad workers are almost three times more likely to suffer more workplace injuries than workers in other industries.

Railroader hazards

Railroad employees perform on-the-job duties that are crucial to the U.S. infrastructure and economy. But those same jobs also subject railroaders to physical stress, injuries, and hazards. Signal malfunctions, brake failures, defective equipment, poor communication, exposure to dangerous chemicals, and other unsafe conditions can cause serious harm to railway workers, or even death.

After years or even decades on the job, railroaders can sustain cumulative trauma to their bones, joints, muscles, tendons, spinal cord, and nerves. The trauma can be permanent and life-altering.

jobs with the most risk

The most dangerous railroad jobs include:


Railroad Worker Injuries

Railroad companies owe a duty to their employees to create and foster a reasonably safe work environment. FELA provides several examples of an employer's responsibilities.

Railroad Companies Owe Employees a Reasonably Safe Workplace

For example, employers must provide employees with equipment that is safe and free of defects and furnishing employees with appropriate personal protective equipment.

Employers must also provide employees and supervisors with the necessary training to safely do their jobs and prevent the imposition of unreasonable work quotas that may put employees in danger.

Additional employer responsibilities include:

  • Inspecting the workplace for hazards
  • Ensuring compliance with all safety guidelines
  • Protecting workers from the intentional acts of others
  • Enforcing required safety rules and regulations

When a railroad company breaches these duties, and a worker is injured or killed, FELA facilitates the recovery of damages for the injured worker and their family.

The railroad injury attorneys at Sommers Schwartz have a long history of handling FELA cases.

We’ve obtained favorable outcomes for railroaders and serve as designated counsel for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Transportation Communications Union, and Local 2051 of the Transport Workers Union of America.

Our track record is impressive.

Our attorneys have devoted their careers to representing injured rail workers and their families.


How FELA Claims Are Different From Workers' Compensation

Under FELA, an injured rail worker can bring a personal injury claim against their employer to recover damages for their injuries and losses, and families who lose loved ones in an on-the-job accident can bring claims as well. While FELA compensates injured workers, it is not a workers' compensation law. That is because of two critical distinctions.

Proving negligence

In a FELA action, all a worker must prove is that the negligence was a cause of their injuries.

Under state workers' compensation laws, an injured worker need not prove that the employer's negligence caused the accident and injuries to obtain benefits. However, to succeed in a FELA action, the injured worker must establish that the employer’s negligence caused their injuries, just as they would in a personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accidentslip and fall, or act of medical malpractice. The major difference is that, in a FELA action, all a worker must prove is that the negligence was a cause of their injuries.

Damage Awards

FELA provides injured workers the potential to recover substantially more in compensation.

The other big difference between a FELA action and a workers' compensation claim is the nature and amount of damages available. While the requirement of proving employer negligence under FELA may make its claims more burdensome and challenging, FELA also provides injured workers the potential to recover substantially more in compensation than they would under workers' compensation.

Under FELA, however, injured railroad workers can recover damages for both economic and non-economic losses, including:

Recovering for your losses

What to Do After a Railroad Injury

If you suffered an on-the-job injury while employed by a railroad company, the steps you take after your accident play a significant role in the success of any FELA claim you may pursue. It is essential to immediately report the accident to your supervisor and fill out all paperwork as accurately as possible. When completing these documents, try to identify any acts or omissions on your employer's part that could have contributed to the accident and any defect in the equipment your employer provided.

A supervisor or claim agent will be present while you fill out the forms and describe the accident. Do not give in to any pressure to write down anything except the truth about what happened. These forms will establish the basis of your FELA action and including inaccurate or incomplete information will only hurt your case later. After you have completed the required paperwork, the claim agent will want you to give a recorded statement.

If you have already been to a medical facility, you may not be feeling well enough to provide a recorded statement at that time. Remember that the claim agent is on the railroad's side, and they will do their best to get you to exonerate the company. It is their job to find ways to refute or weaken your case, and they will use anything you say to minimize the value of your claim. Before giving a statement, make sure to speak with your union representative and determine your rights.

If you need medical attention, the company is obligated to take you to a medical facility before you make any statements. After that initial visit, you have the right to see your own physician. While your employer will likely advise you to see a company physician, you are not required to do so. In fact, seeing the doctor suggested by the railroad may hurt your case because, like claim agents, they can be incentivized to minimize your injuries or question their cause.

We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients

Learn more about railroad worker injuries

Talk to an attorney

Perhaps the most critical step you can take after a railroad injury is to contact an experienced FELA claim lawyer.

Most personal injury law firms may handle a FELA claim once in a decade. While these attorneys may be skilled in other areas of the law, successfully pursuing a FELA claim requires an intimate knowledge of these unique laws and the rail industry generally.

Reach Out to the Respected Railroad Injury Lawyers at Sommers Schwartz for Immediate Assistance

At Sommers Schwartz, we have a dedicated team of FELA lawyers ready to meet with you, answer your questions, and handle your claim.

Attorney Arvin Pearlman leads our team of rail injury lawyers and is designated counsel for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Transportation Communications Union/Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, and Michigan Local 2051 of the Transport Workers Union of America. He has devoted his career to representing injured rail workers and their families in all types of railroad injury claims. Sommers Schwartz attorney Ben Wilensky also has many years of experience successfully handling claims on behalf of injured railroad workers.

To learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced railroad injury lawyers, call 866-826-1793. You can also contact us through our online form, and an attorney will contact you shortly.