Rhode Island FELA Attorneys 

While Rhode Island has the fewest miles of track in the Continental U.S. (Hawaii is last), it does have the most miles of 150-mile-per-hour tracks — covering 16.2 miles divided into three parts.  Rhode Island railroad mileage peaked at 211 miles in 1920. Since then, especially with the advent of automobiles and trucks, the state’s rail miles have declined to under 100.


Rhode Island’s first railroad, the Boston & Providence Railroad, was chartered to connect the two cities in 1831 and was completed in 1835.

In April 1873, a historic catastrophe occurred on the Boston & Providence line. A railroad bridge spanning the Pawcatuck River near the small Richmond Switch station gave way when a dam failed. The rushing water swept away abutments on both sides of the bridge, which collapsed. The train, running downhill, approached the bridge at 40 miles per hour.

The train was traveling with such forward momentum that when it reached the river, the locomotive bounded across, thrusting itself into the bank on the opposite side. Behind the locomotive were three flat freight cars, three passenger cars, and the smoking car.

The flat cars leapt across the river in succession, followed by a passenger car, which was rear-ended by another passenger car. This other passenger car and smoking car rested on the opposite riverbank. A fire broke out, burning its way through the flat cars and the passenger cars. Many passengers were injured and a number died. A total of 116 persons were on the train.

Dangers of Railroads Occupations

While it alone was a terrible tragedy, this accident was one of dozens occurring on the railroads at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. Railroad workers were particularly at risk. These years saw a booming expansion of railroad building across the country.  The more rails that were laid, the higher the number of killed and injured workers grew.

Not until 1908, when the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), could these injured workers obtain compensation for their injuries.  Had a Rhode Island FELA attorney been available then as they are today, injured workers would have been properly compensated.

Railroad Injuries

The many types of injuries suffered by the workers included:

  • Broken bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Dismemberment and disfigurement
  • Joint injuries, especially of the knees and shoulders
  • Injuries from exposure to toxic substances

In addition to physical injuries, workers may endure loss of income and future wages. Since they were not covered by workmen’s compensation laws, the workers and their families had nowhere to turn for compensation.

Finally, after passage of FELA, the railroad companies were forced to take responsibility for the injuries and deaths of their workers. FELA attorneys, experts in all the intricacies of FELA law, began to represent the injured railroad workers.

FELA laws are in full force today.  If you or a loved one has been injured or died while working for the railroad, you might want to consult with a Rhode Island FELA attorney.  Our lawyers provide consultations for free. We will go over the specifics of your potential claim and help determine a legal strategy that is right for you and your circumstances.