Railroad/FELA
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Is FELA different from workers' compensation, or are they similar?

The Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA, differs from state workers' compensation laws in significant ways. First, workers' comp is a no-fault system that allows the payment of medical bills and the recovery of a specific percentage of lost wages even if the work-related injury or illlness did not result from an employer's negligence. Also, an injured or ill employee who has a claim for workers' comp benefits generally cannot sue their employer for causing a personal injury. 

Contrasting with this, claims brought under the provisions of FELA require showing that the railroad company the employed the worker was negligent. Further, there are no rules limiting the amount of monetary damages a railroad employee can receive when succeeding with a FELA claim.

Specifically, the worker WHO BRINGS A fela CLAIM must show one or both of the following:

  • 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;
  • 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;
 

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