What Is FELA?
At The Gori Law Firm, our experienced FELA lawyers have the knowledge you need to find answers to your questions. Please see answers to some commonly asked questions below and contact us if you have additional concerns. From our offices in Edwardsville, we serve clients in Illinois and nationwide.
What Is The Federal Employers’ Liability Act?
The FELA was enacted by Congress in 1908 to provide benefits for railroad workers who were injured on the job. The FELA is different from state workers’ compensation laws, which work on a no-fault basis. Instead, the FELA is a fault-based system. That means that to recover damages, the injured worker needs to show that the railroad’s negligence, in whole or in part, caused the injury and damages. The FELA does not limit the damages that the worker may receive.
How Do You Recover Damages Under The FELA?
The injured worker needs to establish that:
- The accident or injury must have happened within the course and scope of the worker’s employment with the railroad. If the injury occurs in the furtherance of the worker’s job, it does not have to occur on railroad property.
- The railroad in question must be engaged in interstate commerce between two or more states. Nearly all of railroad work duties are interpreted as being in furtherance of interstate commerce.
- The injury must have been caused in whole or in part, or contributed to, by the railroad. The Gori Law Firm attorney Bob Marcus won the landmark FELA case CSX Transportation v. McBride in which the United States Supreme Court upheld this ruling.
What Kind Of Damages Can You Recover?
- The nature, extent and duration of the injury: The compensation you receive is based on these three points. You may also receive compensation for preexisting conditions made worse by an accident.
- Past and future physical and mental suffering: Proving the amount of pain and suffering a person experiences is challenging. While catastrophic injuries such as amputations may be easier for a jury to understand, less severe injuries can also cause considerable pain and mental suffering. When a doctor states that the worker will have permanent pain from the injury, he or she is entitled to additional damages.
- Past and future disability and disfigurement: You are entitled to compensation for disability and disfigurement, and may receive it even if the injuries are only partially or temporarily disabling.
- Past and future medical, hospital and life-care expenses: The railroad must pay all medical expenses from the injury, including the cost of future medical treatment or life-care assistance.
- Past and future lost earnings or lost earning capacity: You are entitled to your lost wages until you return to work. If you cannot return to work, you are entitled to your future lost wages, which may include their current cash value, insurance and health benefits, cost-of-living adjustments, income taxes and more. In some cases, economists may help by calculating the lost earning capacity.
What If A Worker Is Killed On The Job?
When a railroad worker dies as a result of injuries, his or her spouse, children or next of kin may be able to recover damages for:
- The worker’s conscious pain and suffering between the injury and time of his or her death
- All medical care the worker received
- The family’s monetary losses, including future expenses such as the loss of the worker’s salary and benefits
- The Railroad Retirement Board money the family would have received if the worker had lived and worked until retirement