Before workers’ compensation laws existed, the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) allowed railroad workers to seek damages in court for injuries suffered while on the job. Railroad worker injuries include traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, occupational diseases, and aggravations of pre-existing conditions. FELA claims are similar to workers’ compensation claims in their purpose, to compensate injured workers for injuries suffered while on the job but differ in many other ways.
Negligence in Railroad Worker Injuries
The biggest difference between FELA claims and workers’ compensation claims is the law of negligence. In a workers’ compensation claim, the injured party is not required to prove that the employer was negligent or otherwise at fault for the injury. However, in a FELA claim the injured employee is required to show that the employer was not only negligent, but that the negligence was the cause of the injury.
In a workers’ compensation claim, recovery is generally limited to medical expenses, lost income, and any compensation for resulting disability. In railroad worker injuries, the injured party can receive compensation for those same expenses and more. Through a FELA claim, recoverable damages can include past and future expenses, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, and permanent partial or full disability. Additionally, a lawsuit under FELA can be brought in any state or federal court, whereas a workers’ compensation claim must be brought in the specific state the injury occurred.
Statute of Limitations
For workers’ compensation claims, the statute of limitations varies depending on your specific injury and which state your injury occurred. The statute of limitations for bringing a FELA lawsuit is set by federal law, which is three years. If you do not bring your lawsuit within three years of the date of your injury, your claim could be completely barred.
If you have any questions regarding FELA or workers’ compensation claims, contact us today at 1-800-THE-FIRM for a free case evaluation.