FEDERAL EMPLOYEE LIABILITY ACT (FELA)
Railroad Worker Injuries and FELA Claims
Before the existence of workers’ compensation laws, Congress worked to protect the rights of injured railroad workers through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, injured railroad workers can seek damages suffered while on the job.
What is FELA?
FELA claims are much like workers’ compensation claims. Both systems are designed to compensate injured workers for injuries suffered on the job, but the similarities stop right there.
With a FELA claim, the injured railroad worker is required to show that the employer was not only negligent but that the negligence was also the cause of the injury. This is a big hurdle compared to a standard workers’ compensation claim.
What Damages Can I Recover in a FELA Claim?
In a workers’ compensation case, the damages to the injured employee are usually limited to medical expenses, lost income, and disability compensation. The damages you can get from a FELA claim are more extensive. They can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Permanent partial or full disability
With workers’ compensation, the injured employee must bring the suit in the state where the accident happened. With a FELA case brought by a railroad worker, however, the case can be brought to any state or federal court.
What Types of Injuries Does FELA Cover?
FELA generally covers four types of injuries:
- Traumatic injuries, such as joint sprains, broken bones and pulled muscles.
- Repetitive injuries, such as carpal tunnel or tendonitis.
- Occupational diseases, such as asbestosis, hearing loss, and lung cancer.
- Aggravations of pre-existing conditions, such as where an injury accelerates or exacerbates an existing health problem within the body.
Do I Have to Prove the Railroad Was Negligent?
Railroad workers must show not only that the railroad was negligent, but also that the railroad’s negligence played a role in causing the injury. A railroad’s negligent acts can fall into the following categories:
- Failing to properly create and maintain sufficient workplace safety rules
- Failing to properly train employees
- Failing to provide adequate equipment and tools
- Failing to provide adequate manpower
Are There Time Limitations On Bringing a FELA Claim?
The statute of limitations for bringing a FELA lawsuit is set by federal law. The time period in which you have to bring your lawsuit is 3 years from the date of injury. If you do not bring your lawsuit within that time period, your case could be denied and the court will usually determine that you are not entitled to receive damages at all.
Determining the date from which the statute of limitations begins to run becomes more of a problem depending on the nature of the injury. For example, if you suffer from hearing loss or cancer, how do you determine the date of your injury? The general answer is that the 3-year statute of limitations begins to run when you know, or should have known, that you suffered an injury and that that injury is work-related.
If you are a railroad worker who has been injured on the job, contact The Lieser Law Firm today to determine if you have a claim under FELA. The consultation is FREE.
If you have been injured or are suffering because of the carelessness of someone else, let us offer you a free case evaluation. Send us an email about your accident & we will contact you today.
Free Case Evaluation
Send us an email about your accident & we will contact you today.
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