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When you are hired as a contractor by a railroad company, the last thing you expect is to work on an unsafe job site and suffer an injury as a result. If injured while independently contracted by a railroad company, you may assume you aren’t eligible to recover compensation for the damages you’ve sustained. However, working with a FELA lawyer can help determine if you qualify for compensation. Keep reading to learn why you may be eligible for damages.

Are Independent Contractors Covered Under FELA?

Because of the inherent dangers of working on the railroad, many employers understand they can face liability for injuries they are responsible for under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). As such, some railroad companies have transitioned to outsourcing employees as a means of minimizing the number of people they can be held liable for. Unfortunately, many may be bound by a contract that prohibits them from pursuing compensation for the injuries they sustained.

However, depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for compensation under FELA as an independent contractor. This is because the courts have determined that liability cannot be waived via a contract in some circumstances.

If you are a non-railroad employee, you can file a FELA claim if the following circumstances apply:

  • You qualify as a “borrowed servant”
  • You are a servant acting for two “masters” simultaneously
  • You are subservient to a company that was a servant of the railroad

Generally, a borrowed servant means the railroad has the power to direct and supervise the employee. Whether the railroad has the power depends on the specific facts.  For example, if they provide the tools, assign work assignments, or would be able to fire you, you  might qualify as a “borrowed servant.” In this case, if you are injured while under the control of the railroad company, even if you are not a direct employee, you can file a FELA claim for compensation should you sustain injuries because of your employment duties.

How Can I Recover Damages Under FELA?

If you are injured while working for the railroad, even if you are not directly employed by them at the time of the injury, it’s imperative to understand how to proceed.

To recover damages under FELA, four things must be proven: the railroad is a carrier in interstate commerce, the work being performed at the time of the injury was for the benefit of the railroad company, you were working when injured, and the railroad was at least partially negligent for the accident.

Unfortunately, filing a FELA claim is incredibly complicated, and becomes even more complex for those who are not directly employed by the railroad. As such, injured independent contractors must connect with an experienced railroad attorney as soon as possible.

When hurt due to the railroad’s negligence, the team at Doran & Murphy is ready to fight for you. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you through these challenging matters and what we will do to fight for the compensation you deserve.