FELA vs Workers’ Compensation

Employees are protected by law in many ways when they are hurt on the job. One set of laws pertains to all workers in general, and it is called “Workers’ Compensation.” If injured railroad workers were to obtain benefits through Workers’ Compensation, they would fall under the following restrictions: • They cannot sue their employers for negligence • They will only receive a portion of their lost wages • Their employers can contest medical benefits that workers receive • Employees cannot ask for monetary compensation for pain and suffering The Alternative to Workers’ Compensation Railroad workers have an alternative that can offer them benefits that have the potential to be much greater than the ones they could hope to receive from Workers’ Compensation. Injured railroad workers qualify for the benefits offered by the Federal Employers Liability Act if they work for a railroad that travels between at least two states. They will also qualify if their employer owns a track and maintains it for an interstate railroad. If one of the preceding descriptions applies, employees are not restricted to obtaining their benefits from Workers’ Compensation. The Federal Employers Liability Act The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was implemented in 1908 specifically to address railroad work injuries, and it differs greatly from Workers’ Compensation. Railroad workers who access their rights under FELA are entitled to much more than they would receive under Workers’ Compensation. For example, rather than determine how much money a worker is entitled to based on a formula as Workers’ Compensation does, FELA takes medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages into account when determining the appropriate level of restitution. The railroad worker may even receive payment for emotional distress under FELA. This would mean that railroad workers can obtain a lot more money for the injuries they receive during a train wreck or work related accident than they could hope to recover from Workers’ Compensation. When Can Workers Take Advantage of FELA? In order to take advantage of FELA, injured railroad workers are required to prove that their injuries are due to their employers’ negligence. If their employers violated federal safety rules in any way, railroad workers need to be able to demonstrate that this is the case. If they can prove their cases, they will be able to sue their employers to receive lost wages, payment of their medical bills and other damages. It can be difficult to prove that an employer has been negligent and that the negligence is related to the injuries that workers suffered. However, railroad workers’ chances of prevailing in court improve greatly when they hire a FELA attorney. Injured railroad workers need a train accident attorney because it is very likely that their employers will fight them to keep from having to make restitution under FELA. What Can Railroad Workers Receive under FELA? Railroad workers who win their FELA cases in court are entitled to receive 100 percent of their past lost wages and wages that are expected to be lost in the future if they are unable to return to work while recovering from their injuries. Their employer will be required to make monetary compensation for pain and suffering. If re-training is needed, the employer will be required to pay for it. Workers will be able to obtain medical treatment without interference from their employer, and the railroad cannot refuse to pay for it. Permanently disabled workers will be entitled to compensation lost due to the disability. To avoid having to pay all of the benefits listed above, the railroads hire their own attorneys who fight vigorously for their rights. That is why you desperately need your own FELA injury lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured in a railroad accident, contact a knowledgeable train accident attorney to ensure that your employer can’t take advantage of you.