FELA Claims – What They Are and What Is Covered
If you’re employed in the railway industry and are hurt on the job, knowing your legal rights is important. You probably have many questions concerning what legal actions you can and cannot take. Being properly compensated for your damages is a little different for railroad workers than other on-the-job injury cases, and navigating your way through the legal system without guidance can prove to be frustrating.
In this article, we’ll help you understand your rights as an injured railroad worker, what FELA is, and what and who is covered under its provisions.
What Is FELA?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law that allows injured railway workers to legally recover monetary damages from the railroad carrier and its employees due to their negligence. FELA provides an exemption to railroad workers who usually wouldn’t be allowed to sue their employer for an on-the-job injury.
Another benefit of this federal law is reducing the burden of proof, which is usually much stricter and more difficult to prove for other types of employees who’ve been hurt while working. FELA states that railroad employees only need to prove that they sustained injuries due to some type of workplace negligence.
If the railway violated a safety regulation, the injured party no longer has any burden of proof, and the railway is automatically held liable. If safety rules weren’t followed, the railway is assumed negligent. Railroad workers who’ve been injured on the job, regardless of the circumstances, should contact a FELA accident attorney. Only an experienced FELA attorney can provide the best legal counsel for railroad on-the-job injury cases.
FELA vs. Workers’ Compensation
In any other industry, when an employee is hurt while working, the usual procedure is to file a Workers’ Compensation claim with their state’s Department of Labor and Industries. However, railway workers are classified as federal employees and are barred from filing for Workers’ Compensation. Railroad workers must file FELA claims to be compensated.
Who Is Covered?
FELA covers all employees of a railway. You may think that only those employees who are actively working on the train or the tracks, those in what would be considered higher-risk jobs, are covered. This is a misconception. FELA provides rights and coverage to all railway employees regardless of the risk level of their responsibilities. All employees injured while performing their duties due to the railroad’s negligence are covered.
It should be noted that there is a statute of limitations for filing a FELA claim. Any railway employee who has been injured on the job must file a FELA claim within three years of the date of the injury. Except in rare cases, any claims made after this time will be rejected.
What Is Covered?
Many obvious damages can be claimed under FELA. However, there are other types of damages that you can claim, some of which you may not have been aware of. Working with an experienced FELA accident attorney is the best way to receive the highest compensation for damages. Some recoverable potential damages include the following:
- Loss of past and future wages
- Future ability to earn an income
- Past and future medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Shame and humiliation due to disfigurement
- Emotional and mental distress
What Factors Determine How Much Money You Can Recover?
FELA claims can be quite complex, and your lawyer will determine your request. Some of the factors used to determine a monetary amount include:
- The severity of the injury
- If your injury or injuries are permanent
- Whether or not you can continue to work
- The degree of current and future pain and suffering
- How much negligence the railway is responsible for
There are no limits or caps on how much money you can recover from a FEMA claim. The railway may want to offer you a quick settlement amount but it’s almost always far below what you’re entitled to. Working with a FELA accident attorney is crucial to receiving the maximum amount for your claim.
FELA Claims Explained
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act helps railway workers to receive compensation after a workplace accident. Any railway employee has the legal right to file FELA claims and receive money for their damages, regardless of their job title or job responsibilities.
Hiring an experienced FELA accident attorney is necessary to ensure that your claim is filed properly. Let a lawyer handle the paperwork and forms so you can take the time to recover from your injuries.