How is a FELA claim different from, or similar to, workers' compensation? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

FELA, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, is different than workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that allows recovery of only a specific percentage of lost wages and payment of medical bills. It does not allow for any lawsuit or jury trial against an employer. A worker can recover even if at fault entirely.

On the other hand, FELA is far better in some ways because it places no ceiling or cap on the amount of damages that may be recovered. On the other hand, it follows common-law negligence principles and requires that a worker prove one or more of the following:

  1. If the injury to the worker is a result of negligence or carelessness of any officer, agent or employee of the railroad, or the worker’s injury is caused by any defect in the cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed or any other equipment of the railroad, the employee may recover damages.
  2. If the worker is hurt as a result of a railroad violation of a relevant safety statute, either state or federal, the worker is entitled to recover damages.


Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina attorneys specializing in FELA and railroad injury law, we offer hundreds of pages of information to help you learn your rights and recover compensation if you’ve been hurt on the job, riding trains or crossing rail tracks. You may find our list “What Not to Do After a Railroad Accident” especially helpful.