How are FELA Cases Different from Workers’ Compensation Cases?

railroad crossing

When employees are injured on the job, they often go through their company’s workers’ compensation insurance for assistance. Those working in the railroad industry, however, must go through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to obtain work-related injury compensation.

Congress passed FELA in the early 1900s to address a stark rise in railroad accidents and lapses in the workers’ compensation packages. Given the dangerous nature of railroad work, FELA requires a different standard of negligence and provides more potential benefits than typical workers’ compensation. An experienced railroad accident lawyer could explain FELA requirements in more detail to someone who was injured on the job.

The FELA Claims Process

Unlike workers’ compensation cases that go through an insurance company, injured railroaders may file a lawsuit against their employer through state or federal court and are entitled to a trial by jury.

Under FELA, an injured railroader must prove an injury was caused entirely or partially by the negligence of another railroad worker, an agent, a contractor, or a faulty piece of equipment. Even when injured railroad workers are partially at fault, they may still bring a damage lawsuit against the railroad, a benefit that goes beyond general some workers’ compensation claims.

Proving Negligence Under FELA

Unlike a typical workers’ compensation claim, an injured railroad employee must establish that the employer’s negligence contributed to the injuries in some capacity. This means that a FELA claim may have a higher standard for establishing negligence than a regular workers’ compensation claim with “no fault” provisions.

FELA also uses comparative negligence to determine the extent to which each party is liable for the injuries. This presents limitations for an award allocation if the worker is found partially liable for their injury. Under this rule, an employee found to be 25% at fault for the accident will have their compensation package reduced by 25%.

Compensation Under FELA

FELA compensation often has broader benefit options than typical workers’ compensation. A FELA package may include full compensation for all lost income and disability benefits without restrictions. Workers’ compensation claims, however, may only cover a portion of lost income and have specific caps for disability payments.

An injured railroader’s FELA package may include non-economic compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. In most cases, workers’ compensation packages do not factor in pain and suffering.

FELA cases may have higher standards for establishing negligence, but they also have certain advantages. These cases allow railroad workers to avoid insurance companies and receive additional benefits that workers’ compensation does not include.

Since FELA cases can be so difficult, contact one of our team members today to discuss your case. With numerous compensation benefits, filing a FELA claim can help you successfully recover from an injury on the railroad.

©2024, Goldstein and Bashner All Rights Reserved | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | "Captree Sunset" Photo Credit: Unique Images/Martin Losco