Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly, LLC

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What does FELA have to do with me?

No matter how short a time you have worked in the railroad industry, you are already aware of the differences between this job and any other job you have held. For one thing, you can't beat the pay, but you may already know how difficult railroad work is on your personal life.

Another big difference between working for the railroad and just about any other job is the constant danger. Railroad injuries are often catastrophic. If you have ever witnessed an accident on the job, you know that if it is not life-ending, it is often career-ending. This is why railroads have a very different system for dealing with workplace injuries.

What are the advantages and concerns surrounding FELA?

For more than 100 years, railroad employees have been under the protection of the Federal Employers' Liability Act. This, like workers' compensation for other industries, is the exclusive remedy for any railway work-related illness or injury.

However, whereas workers' compensation is a no-fault system, FELA requires you to prove that your employer is somehow responsible for your injury. There are pros and cons to this system, and having an understanding of this may help you determine the best course of action in the event that you should suffer an injury.

Some of the negative aspects of FELA include the following:

  • Instead of filing a claim for compensation, you must file a lawsuit.
  • The burden of proof of negligence is on you.
  • The court will weigh any actions on your part that may have contributed to the accident when determining an award.

On the other hand, FELA's benefits include the following:

  • There are no caps on the amount of compensation you can potentially win, as there are with workers' compensation insurance.
  • Unlike workers' compensation, your award may also include emotional anguish, pain and suffering instead of just lost wages and medical bills.
  • The threat of a lawsuit may encourage railroad employers to take more precautions to ensure the safety of their workers instead of risking your lives to meet quotas.

Obviously, the process of seeking financial remuneration for a work-related accident involves many aspects of the legal system. For this reason, you would have a strong advantage if you sought the assistance of a professional who has experience protecting the rights of railroad employees in Louisiana and across the country.

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