What Is FELA?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a law in the United States that provides legal protection and help to railroad workers who get hurt on the job because of their employer’s negligence.
At The Gori Law Firm, our experienced FELA lawyers have the knowledge you need to find answers to your questions. Please see answers to some commonly asked questions below and contact us if you have additional concerns. From our offices in Edwardsville, we serve clients in Illinois and nationwide.
What Is The Federal Employers’ Liability Act?
The FELA was enacted by Congress in 1908 to provide benefits for railroad workers who were injured on the job. The FELA is different from state workers’ compensation laws, which work on a no-fault basis. Instead, the FELA is a fault-based system. That means that to recover damages, the injured worker needs to show that the railroad’s negligence, in whole or in part, caused the injury and damages. The FELA does not limit the damages that the worker may receive.
How Do You Recover Damages Under The FELA?
The injured worker needs to establish that:
- The accident or injury must have happened within the course and scope of the worker’s employment with the railroad. If the injury occurs in the furtherance of the worker’s job, it does not have to occur on railroad property.
- The railroad in question must be engaged in interstate commerce between two or more states. Nearly all of railroad work duties are interpreted as being in furtherance of interstate commerce.
- The injury must have been caused in whole or in part, or contributed to, by the railroad. The Gori Law Firm attorney Bob Marcus won the landmark FELA case CSX Transportation v. McBride in which the United States Supreme Court upheld this ruling.
What Kind Of Damages Can You Recover?
- The nature, extent and duration of the injury: The compensation you receive is based on these three points. You may also receive compensation for preexisting conditions made worse by an accident.
- Past and future physical and mental suffering: Proving the amount of pain and suffering a person experiences is challenging. While catastrophic injuries such as amputations may be easier for a jury to understand, less severe injuries can also cause considerable pain and mental suffering. When a doctor states that the worker will have permanent pain from the injury, he or she is entitled to additional damages.
- Past and future disability and disfigurement: You are entitled to compensation for disability and disfigurement, and may receive it even if the injuries are only partially or temporarily disabling.
- Past and future medical, hospital and life-care expenses: The railroad must pay all medical expenses from the injury, including the cost of future medical treatment or life-care assistance.
- Past and future lost earnings or lost earning capacity: You are entitled to your lost wages until you return to work. If you cannot return to work, you are entitled to your future lost wages, which may include their current cash value, insurance and health benefits, cost-of-living adjustments, income taxes and more. In some cases, economists may help by calculating the lost earning capacity.
What If A Worker Is Killed On The Job?
When a railroad worker dies as a result of injuries, his or her spouse, children or next of kin may be able to recover damages for:
- The worker’s conscious pain and suffering between the injury and time of his or her death
- All medical care the worker received
- The family’s monetary losses, including future expenses such as the loss of the worker’s salary and benefits
- The Railroad Retirement Board money the family would have received if the worker had lived and worked until retirement
Talk To A Lawyer For Specific Answers About Your Case
There is no time to waste when filing a FELA claim. For a free consultation, please complete our online form.
Information For Spouses Of Injured Railroad Workers
At The Gori Law Firm, our lawyers provide caring, knowledgeable representation to railroad workers and their spouses. You don’t have to go through this alone; we are here to help you through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) claims process. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience. Clients rely on us to seek the maximum compensation they are entitled to under the law. We take this responsibility seriously because we know that the well-being of your family depends on it.
After an injury on the railroad, the spouse of the injured worker may have to take on the responsibility of handling the claim and caring for their spouse. They must make many decisions about complicated issues such as medical care, legal matters and financial concerns. If you are in this situation, you may be under considerable stress, but you can get help, and that starts with learning about the FELA.
Please see the checklist below for steps to take if your spouse is injured on the job.
Railroad Injury And FELA Checklist For Spouses
- Get your spouse the best medical treatment possible by seeing your own doctor (not the company doctor) and using your own private insurance.
- Speak with a lawyer who has considerable knowledge and experience with the FELA. You can also speak with your union officials.
- Report the accident to the railroad and union if you have not already done so.
- Do not let your spouse give a written or recorded statement to anyone, including a claim agent, unless you have talked about your case with an attorney or union officials. You don’t want to say anything that could potentially damage your claim.
- If there were witnesses to the accident, get their names, addresses and phone numbers.
- If you have out-of-pocket expenses, make sure to keep records of them.
- Does your spouse have a disability insurance policy? Contact them so you can receive disability payments.
- The Railroad Retirement Board provides sickness benefits. Apply for them as soon as possible.
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