Two special provisions of FELA deal with the safety of engines and railroad cars. If an injured person can prove the railroad provided defective equipment in violation of either the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act or the Safety Appliance Act, this constitutes an “absolute liability” claim against the railroad. In either of these situations, a jury is not allowed to consider any comparative negligence on the part of the employee, and a money award by a jury cannot be reduced for employee negligence.
An example of a Safety Appliance Act violation is one where an injury occurs due to a defective handbrake or coupler. Examples of Boiler Inspection Act violations are oil accumulation on an engine walkway, a broken seat, step, or another defective part on an engine that make a locomotive unsafe for its intended use and which results in injury.
Violations of federal regulations under the Federal Railroad Safety Act also create absolute liability against a railroad employer. In essence, if the railroad violates a statute or law and this violation causes injury to its employee, it is totally liable for the damages sustained.