Special Employment Allows for Recovery Under Workers' Comp and FELA

On July 11, 2012 in Collins v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., (The California Court of Appeal – 4th District, No E062329), the court held that when a plaintiff is a special employee of a railroad company, they may recover under both workers' compensation and Federal Employers' Liability Act.

In Collins, the plaintiff worked for Hulcher Services Inc., a company that provided cleanup and rerailment services. Hulcher responded to a railroad collision involving two trains from Union Pacific Railroad. Hulcher employees had to follow Union's safety rules. The plaintiff was injured on the job site and filed a workers' compensation claim against Hulcher and a claim against Union under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) for damages. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him over $3.9 million in damages.

The California Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. The court ruled that if it is determined that a plaintiff is a special employee of the railroad they can bring a workers' compensation action against their employer and a FELA claim against the railroad. The court determined that special employment is established when the employee is acting as a borrowed servant and under the control and supervision of the railroad at the time the injuries took place. Here the court found that the plaintiff was under the control of Union when the injuries took place and therefore was entitled to bring both a workers' compensation claim and a FELA claim.

If you need information regarding workers compensation, employment law, or unlawful termination, please does not hesitate to contact a Orange County Employment attorney today.

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