You long dreamed of riding the rails for a living. Something about pulling in and out of a series of towns and industries each day, drew you to work in the transportation industry for a major railroad.
But now that you are employed as a railroad worker either aboard a freight train or an Amtrak passenger train, you realize that it’s far more challenging than romantic. You have hundreds of rules to follow and numerous supervisors to answer to. In fact, you recently suffered your first on-the-job injury and are wondering what happens next.
Because there is no traditional worker’s compensation program to turn to after a railroad-related injury, it’s important to learn more about the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). This Federal statute protects you and your family when you need financial or medical relief after your injury while working for the railroad.
The major difference between typical workers’ compensation and FELA benefits is that the FELA program is fault-based. In other words, to seek damages and other relief, the injured worker must prove fault on the part of the railroad itself or the negligence of another railroad employee.
The second most important difference is that there is still a path to sue for damages in either the appropriate federal or state courts as long as the injured employee is not found to be 100% at fault for their injuries. That’s because FELA awards are based on the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, where juries determine the percentage of negligence to be attributed to each liable party. Once that has been settled, a percentage of the damage award will then be allocated to the injured worker.
FELA cases can be quite complex, which is why many injured workers seek the counsel of attorneys who are well-versed in this niche of the law. We can help you prove your FELA case and receive the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.