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Is the Federal Railroad Administration investigating your injury?

The Federal Railroad Administration is a department within the U.S. Department of Transportation. As part of its duties, the FRA collects data and analyzes data regarding railroad worker injuries and accidents. If you've been working on a railroad for a while now, you're likely already very much aware of how dangerous such work can be. Railroad accidents often result in catastrophic, if not fatal injuries. Not every accident requires an FRA investigation, however. 

The main purpose of FRA analyzations is to study current railroad safety trends, maximize safety potential and lower injury risks as much as possible. Your employer is under an obligation to file monthly reports regarding on-the-job accidents and injuries. Such reports typically include information on crossing accidents, equipment mishaps and occupational illnesses workers have suffered. If you suffer injury or illness during the normal course of your railroad workday, make sure you understand your rights and the process by which you may seek recovery for your losses.    

Accidents that typically prompt an FRA investigation 

The FRA generally arrives on scene to investigate a railroad incident per recommendation by the Accident Analysis Branch of the department. The following list includes various issues that would likely prompt formal investigation: 

  • Any accident that involves claims of crossing signal failure 
  • Crossing accidents resulting in three or more fatalities of people traveling in private vehicles 
  • Crossing incidents involving commercial vehicles transporting passengers, such as school buses 
  • Derailment involving 15 or more cars or a locomotive 
  • Derailment resulting in serious property damage 
  • Collisions resulting in explosion, fire or escape of hazardous materials 
  • Situations involving run-away trains or train equipment 
  • Accidents that generate major public interest 
  • Most collisions involving Amtrak 
  • Any incident resulting in serious or fatal injury of a train crewmember or passenger 

In addition to the monthly reports your employer must submit to the FRA, the law requires your employer to supply immediate notification of certain types of incidents, especially those involving worker injuries or fatalities. The emotional trauma you suffer in a railroad workplace accident may intensify if you know your injury was likely preventable were it not for someone's negligence. 

If that someone happens to be your employer, you, and any injured co-workers, may proceed under the Federal Employers Liability Act to seek legal accountability against any and all parties deemed liable. There could be benefits available should your injuries temporarily or permanently prevent you from returning to work. 

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