Railroad Worker Injuries
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law in the United States that protects railroad workers and gives them a right to be compensated for on-the-job injuries, provided their injury was due, at least in part, to the negligence of the railroad company. FELA assures railroad employees a safe work environment and gives them and their families the right to recover compensation if injured in a railroad-related accident. Our experienced North Carolina and South Carolina injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson may be able to help you if are a railroad worker and have been injured while on the job. Under FELA, injured employees can seek compensation for wage loss, future wage loss, medical expenses and treatments, pain and suffering, and for temporary or permanent impairments or disability.
The North Carolina and South Carolina injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson have decades of experience successfully representing the interests of people injured on the job. We understand that workplace safety is key when it comes to preventing on the job injuries. Sadly, before FELA was enacted there was no law directed at the unique workplace protection needs of people working in railroading. In a speech to Congress in 1889, President Benjamin Harrison compared the experiences of railroad workers to that of soldiers; at this point in history railroad workers had an increasingly critical place in the United States’ economy, but they risked life and limb to make their contributions. As railroading expanded through the 1890s and early 1900s the dangers facing railroad workers continued to increase, with construction, as well as standard railroad operation, placing ever greater physical and time demands on workers in the industry. FELA was originally enacted in 1906, then rejected by the Supreme Court, and then restored in a different form in 1908. Though the 1908 draft of FELA has been interpreted with other laws in diverse ways over the years, it still stands as the law of the land in the United States.What is the Difference Between FELA and Workers Compensation?
The accident lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson represent injured workers in North Carolina and South Carolina, and we understand the complexities of the laws as they apply to injured workers. Importantly, many injured railroad employees confuse FELA’s provisions with those of Workers Compensation. State workers compensation laws do not apply to cases involving injured railroaders. Because of the importance of the railroads to the national economy, railroad workers are covered by federal law. The distinction can be boiled down to two major factors: the first is the need to prove negligence against the railroad, and the second is the amount of compensation available to the injured railroad worker which can be much greater than workers compensation. These laws are complicated and our accident and work injury attorneys are experienced in these cases and may be able to help you get the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.
In workers’ compensation cases, an injured employee is eligible for compensation regardless of whether or not they or their employer contributed to their injury. While workers’ compensation helps cover lost income and medical bills for injured employees, and often begins to pay out faster, they have restrictions that FELA claims do not face.
Workers’ compensation claims are regulated by state laws, which may place caps on payouts to workers and/or limit their benefits to include medical care and treatment (hospital stays, doctor visits, medication costs) and temporary disability. The payouts from Workers’ Compensation cases are critical, but often cannot provide all that an injured worker will need to heal and keep living the life they want to live. FELA claims do not pay out automatically, meaning that injured railroad workers (or the surviving family members of a killed railroad worker) will not receive benefits until their claim has been settled, but these claims address much broader concerns. In addition to the standard payouts of Worker’s Compensation cases (e.g. medical care and temporary disability), FELA claims can cover far longer periods of unemployment or lost wages as well as compensation for pain and suffering of an injured railroader. If you’ve been injured and are a railroad worker, you need the experienced help of the injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson who know how to protect your interests in these cases.
The major legal difference between FELA and Workers’ Compensation is the requirement that an injured railroad worker prove the railroad was at least partially at fault for what happened to them. FELA is a comparative negligence system, meaning that the percentage of fault will determine the percentage of the benefits the railroad must pay to the injured worker. If a railroad worker was doing their job and following all safety protocols when something happened to them, FELA stipulates that the railroad must pay for 100% of the damages facing the injured worker. If the worker was responsible for a percentage of their own injury, meaning that they were doing something that they knew endangered them, but the railroad could have had systems in place to protect the worker better, then the railroad may still owe the worker for a percentage of the total damages caused by the railroad.Injured Railroad Workers Should Seek an Experienced FELA Attorney
FELA is complex, and because of the high stakes, railroad companies are unlikely to volunteer to pay fair and complete benefits. If you have been injured on the job as railroad employee, you should seek the help of an attorney with significant experience dealing with FELA claims in order to get all the benefits to which you may be entitled. Call Grimes Teich Anderson today and let us help you.