New Mexico FELA Attorneys 

Railroads in New Mexico have been built to carry passengers and freight at high speeds through the desert, either east to Chicago or to the West Coast. The Southwest Chief, operated by Amtrak, at its fastest runs 90 miles per hour at various places along the route of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks It is the fastest Amtrak long distance train.

The state is home to the historic narrow-gauge steam locomotive-driven train, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway. It shares ownership with the state of Colorado.

Railroad building in New Mexico, as in the rest of the country, brought with it settlers and freight to new towns that sprouted along its route. At one time, passenger trains traveled to nine of New Mexico’s most populated cities.

Until 1878, most of New Mexico was remote territory. Then, for the next 30 months, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF) Railroad laid more than 1,000 miles of track. Not long after, freight trains were carrying away lumber, coal, silver and cattle; passenger trains were bringing in settlers and tourists.

Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF)

The ATSF was an especially successful railroad because of its adoption of modern techniques. Examples of two of these were:

  • Autoracks, rail cars built just for carrying automobiles two to three cars high
  • Trailer-on-a-flat-car, or piggy back service

At its peak, the grand epoch of railroad building had 11 railroads operating 3,000 miles of track in the state. But the era came to an end with the start of World War I. Since that time, railroads experienced a slow decline through abandonment and consolidation.

Today, Amtrak still runs the Southern Pacific Sunset Limited, and the AT&SF Southwest Chief through the state. New Mexico’s newest commuter service started in July 2006 — the Rail Runner Express — and has been extremely popular since. Its rails belong predominantly to the Union Pacific (which came after the Southern Pacific) and the BNSF.

As the Rail Industry Grew, So Did the Dangers to Workers

The entire country from the middle of the 19th century through the early 20th, went through an era of railroad building frenzy. The faster the tracks were laid, the more the numbers of injured and dead workers increased.

The labor was especially hazardous, much of it accomplished by hand. Heavy materials and equipment had to be lifted; spikes had to be pounded; metal rails had to be laid. Among the many kinds of injuries to workers, some of the most common were, and still are:

The injured workers had nowhere to turn for compensation for their injuries, and the families could appeal to no one for their loved ones deaths. Railroad workers were not covered by workmen’s compensation laws.

Pressure Leads to FELA

The pressure on Congress mounted from both the public and the railroad workers’ labor unions. Finally, in 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), making the railroad companies liable for the injuries and deaths of its workers. The law covered all workers engaged in interstate commerce.

Today, FELA lawyers represent workers and their loved ones. They are specialists in the intricate laws in the field of railroad compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a railroad accident in New Mexico, and would like to speak with a New Mexico FELA attorney, contact us at (800) 773-6770.