The history of our country says a lot about how we have protected the rights of employers for years. In 1908, Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which protected the thousands of railroad workers employed nationwide. But what is FELA? A FELA claim is similar to that of a workers’ compensation claim; both are designed to compensate injured workers for injuries sustained in the workplace. A workers’ compensation claim is different in the way that the injured employee will not be required to prove that the employer was being negligent or at fault for the injury. In a FELA claim, the injured employee is required to show that the employer was negligent and that the negligence was a cause of the injury.
FELA, upon establishment, worked to provide a federal system of legal recovery to injured railroad workers and their families. Almost any and all injuries suffered by these types of workers on the job will be protected under FELA, including those whose primary duties are not performed in or around trains. However, you may have to prove liability, which is covered in the next section.
When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, “no fault” comes into play. However, if you bring a claim under FELA, negligence and liability must be proven, as previously mentioned. The basic idea is to prove that the defendant in some way failed to provide a railroad worker with a reasonably safe place to work. Under FELA, there are also duties to inspect the work environment to ensure it is free of hazards, provide adequate training and supervision to help employees in job functions, ensure that workers are safe from harmful intentional acts of others, and prevent use of unreasonable work quotas. FELA will not only provide a federal remedy for injured railroad workers, but also stand in as a guideline of sorts for railroad employment safety standards.
Damages Under FELA
When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, the compensation that the injured employee can receive is usually limited to medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for the disability at hand. However, through a FELA claim, the damages may be more extensive. This includes past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, loss of earning capacity, and permanent partial or full disability. A lawsuit that is brought under FELA can typically be brought in any state or federal court.
FELA also covered different types of injuries. These include traumatic injuries like joint sprains and broken bones, repetitive motion injuries, occupational diseases, and aggravations of pre-existing conditions like an injury accelerating or exacerbating within the body.
There are time limitations brought into the claims. The statute of limitations for bringing a FELA lawsuit is set by federal law and is three years from the date of your injury sustained. If you don’t bring your lawsuit within that time period, then your claim could be completely barred and the court will probably determine that you shouldn’t receive any compensation.
If you have sustained a railroad injury, then you may have a claim. Very serious injuries can result from railroad work under certain circumstances. Many cases will result in mediation or being resolved through settlement conferences. You will want an experienced attorney by your side that knows their way around the law. Call WTW for the attorney you need!