Not every worker can turn to workers’ compensation when they get hurt. Some need to go to civil court. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was a groundbreaking piece of legislation when first passed by the legislature in 1908.
Decades later, it remains one of the most important federal laws protecting those who work for railroads. While workers in most industries can file workers’ compensation claims, railroad employees don’t have that option. Instead, they can file a lawsuit in either state or federal court.
Understanding the rules that apply to FELA claims can help you decide if you have grounds to bring a lawsuit.
When does FELA apply to you?
If you suffered an injury because of your employer’s negligence, then you may possibly have a claim under FELA. You don’t have to prove intentional misconduct, only that they failed to take appropriate and reasonable precautions to protect you.
The opposite can also be true. If you can show that your employer violated safety regulations, then you don’t have to prove there was any negligence on the part of the employer leading up to your injury. The violation of a safety statute on its own is enough to qualify a worker for a FELA claim.
What will your claim cover?
There are certain damages that you can ask your employer to cover after you get hurt working in the railroad industry. Lost wages, medical expenses and other provable costs related to your injury can be part of your claim. You could also claim your pain and suffering caused by having a serious traumatic injury.
What you actually receive will depend on the impact of your injury and the circumstances leading to it. If you played a role in contributing to the injury, the degree of responsibility you bear may ultimately influence how much compensation you receive.
The more evidence there is of statutory infractions or negligence and the greater the costs you suffered, the stronger your claim will be. You will need documentation to bring a successful FELA claim, from images of the scene where you got hurt to medical records and financial documents. Partnering with the right support will make it easier for you to make a FELA claim after you got hurt while working for a railroad company.