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FELA Railroad Worker Claims


Railroad workers have a dangerous job.  They are responsible for maintaining the main methods of transporting goods across state lines, but they face innumerable hazards on the job.  Recognizing the dangers of railroad work, well before states established workers’ compensation laws, Congress passed the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA).  FELA governs claims brought by railroad workers for injuries suffered on the job.

FELA works differently from other types of workers’ compensation, and obtaining compensation under FELA requires a proper understanding of all applicable state and federal laws.  If you or someone you care about was injured while working on a railway, the aggressive and effective California workers’ compensation law firm Invictus Law can help you and your family recover the compensation you are owed.

How Are FELA Claims Different From Workers’ Compensation?

Both FELA and workers’ compensation insurance are intended to compensate workers who are injured on the job.  The similarities between the two systems, however, ends there.  FELA is the federal system of legal recovery for railroad workers and their families for injuries sustained by railroad workers while on the job.

Injured workers in other industries are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury regardless of who caused the injury.  They simply need to satisfy the legal requirements for filing a workers’ comp claim.  FELA claims, on the other hand, turn on how the injury came about.  In order to recover damages for a FELA claim, the injured worker must demonstrate that the employer was somehow negligent and that the employer’s negligence contributed to their injury.  To successfully bring a FELA claim, an injured worker must generally prove that the defendant employer in some manner failed to provide a safe working environment for the employee and that the lax safety infrastructure led to the injury.

FELA claims are also brought in a different venue.  FELA claims can generally be brought in state or federal court, while workers’ comp follows a more administrative process.

FELA Duties

Because of FELA, railroad companies and other railway employers owe certain duties to railroad workers.  Violating any of these duties can give rise to a FELA claim:

  • Provide a reasonably safe work environment, including safety tools, training, and equipment
  • Inspect the workplace to ensure it is free of hazards
  • Implement and enforce safety rules and regulations
  • Provide adequate training, supervision and assistance for workers performing their job functions
  • Protect workers from intentional harm committed by others
  • Prohibit unreasonable work “quotas”

Proving negligence under FELA is a lesser burden than establishing negligence under a traditional personal injury liability claim.  The worker need only prove that the defendant was somehow negligent and that in some small manner, that negligence contributed to the injury.  This lesser burden and gives injured railroad workers a leg up in bringing FELA claims compared to other personal injury plaintiffs, but it is a greater burden compared to employers bringing workers’ compensation claims.

Damages Available in a FELA Claim

Although FELA claims have more strict requirements than workers’ comp by introducing fault and negligence, FELA benefits railway workers in other ways.  While workers’ comp benefits are typically limited to medical expenses, lost income, and disability, FELA claimants can seek additional damages more typical of personal injury claims.  Damages available in a FELA claim may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages due to injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress caused by injury
  • Loss of future earning capacity due to injury
  • Damages caused by partial or full disability
  • Wrongful death for surviving family members

Get the Advice and Representation You Need for FELA Claims in Orange County and the Inland Empire

For help getting the care and compensation you need after a railroad injury in Orange County or the Inland Empire, call Invictus Law, P.C., in Orange or Ontario at 949-287-5711 or 888-9-WORKLAW for a free consultation with a passionate, dedicated, and trial-ready California workers’ compensation lawyer.

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