What About Off-Property Injuries?

Under certain circumstances, an employee can recover damages from the railroad even though the injury occurs away from company property. Common examples can include: trainmen switching at an industrial plant; a train crew injured while deadheading either by rail, land or air; injuries on the premises of carrier-provided lodging; and employees injured while en route to perform repair service at an outlying point (carmen in wheel trucks, signalmen out to repair circuits, mechanics or electricians out to check engines).

The FELA creates a duty on the carrier to provide its employees with a reasonably safe place in which to perform their work. This duty is extremely broad and is non-delegable. This means that regardless of where the injury occurs, the carrier is responsible if it occurs due to negligence of one of its employees or "agents", or due to a violation of a Safety Act. From the examples listed above, "agents" of a carrier include the hotel or motel which the carrier pays to house its employees and the van company or taxi cab company the carrier hires to transport its employees. If the hotel/motel is negligent in maintaining its property and an injury results, the carrier is responsible. Likewise, if the van company or taxi cab company is negligent in maintaining their vehicles, or if their driver is negligent in operating the vehicle and an injury occurs to a rail worker, the railroad is responsible.