Iowa FELA Attorneys

In the first half of the nineteenth century, railroads had not yet come to Iowa, as they had to other parts of the country. But, in 1854, railroad workers in Iowa began sawing wood for making railroad ties. The next year, a ferry brought a locomotive across the Mississippi River.

It wasn’t long before the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company started laying tracks, arriving at Iowa City. Building the railroads was costly. The line running from Davenport to Iowa City cost $15,000 per mile.

The government helped out the private railroad companies when it went into the business of building railroads. The Congressional Act of May 15, 1856, granted land to the State of Iowa for constructing four railroads across the state from places along the Mississippi River to places on the Missouri River.

The four lines were:

  • The Burlington Railroad, that ran from Burlington to south of Council Bluffs
  • The Rock Island, that connected Davenport to Council Bluffs
  • The Northwestern that started near Clinton and ran to Council Bluffs
  • The Illinois Central, connecting Dubuque to Sioux City

Railroads crossing agricultural Iowa brought new towns and population growth westward. Farmers could move agricultural produce to the cities, and bring machinery, clothing, and other materials from the cities to the country. The railroads carried the mail, including the “wish books,” new catalogues bringing all sorts of goods within reach of the families in the farming communities and other places distant from the cities.

To entice more passengers to travel, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway built the swanky Hotel Orleans at Spirit Lake. With 200 rooms for its guests, the hotel also had a billiard hall, bowling alley, tackle shop and boathouse.

Iowa Railroads: Dangerous Work

Building the railroads as well as working on them was dangerous and difficult. The rail workers gauged and spiked the heavy rails by hand. Just as in all railroad work around the country, accidents causing injuries and deaths were common.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, railroad building grew at a frenzied pace across the nation. The numbers of injured and dying railroad workers continued to increase. Common injuries among the rail workers were crushed bones, dismemberment, skull and brain injuries, and more.

FELA to Protect Injured Workers

As the number of those injured and killed grew beyond tolerance, the public and railroad worker unions demanded Congress do something to make the railroad companies more responsible for their workers. Railroad workers were not, nor are they now, covered by workmen’s compensation. The result was the passage of the 1908 Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The act allows railroad workers and their families to sue and recover damages from the railroad companies for on-the-job injuries and deaths.

Contact an Attorney in Iowa

Hiring a FELA lawyer, an attorney who is an expert in interpreting the complex FELA laws, is essential if you or a loved one has been hurt in an on-the-job railroad accident. For information about your injury in Iowa, contact a FELA law attorney today.