If you work in the railroad industry, you may have heard that injury claims in your field are different from conventional worker’s compensation. In fact, there is an entirely separate body of legislation devoted to the compensation and remuneration of railroad employees.
Enacted in 1908, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) provides a far greater range of benefits to railroad workers than employees in other industries. Where worker’s compensation laws tend to follow hard and fast (and somewhat arbitrary) compensation guidelines, FELA entitles railroad workers to all the benefits of a conventional personal injury claim.
In 1893, the average life expectancy for a railroad switchman was reported to be just over 7 years. This startling fact was just one horrific statistic among a record number of hazards in the ruthless railroad industry in America at the time. Additionally, monopolistic railroad companies would provide scant benefits to injured workers and their families, barely covering rehabilitation when it was even possible.
FELA was passed to address these egregious offenses against human rights being committed at the turn of the century by protecting workers and their families from corporate exploitation.
FELA provides protection that extends far beyond traditional worker’s compensation. Worker’s compensation typically only provides partial remuneration for lost income and none for emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other intangibles. FELA coverage offers injured railroad workers full compensation for the injuries, including their lost income and enjoyment of life.
FELA requires your railroad company to cover any medical treatment that is related to your accident for life, even after you stop working there. Testimony and medical reports from your doctor will be needed to determine the costs and extent of the treatment.
“Scheduled loss of use” benefits are a monetary award that accounts for the loss of use of various body parts, be it your neck, knee, shoulder, arm, ankle, eye, ear, finger, or anything else. The benefit is calculated according to the duration of the loss of use and the specific body part. Certain body parts are covered for different periods of time as well. Vision loss, for instance, has a longer compensation timeline than a finger injury.
If your injury prevents you from earning at the same level as before, you are entitled to weekly compensation checks even before you return to work. If you are unable to work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income indefinitely.
FELA coverage also extends to intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium (between married couples). Although it is difficult to put a price tag on these damages, they are usually applied as a multiplier placed on the costs already accrued in the case.
One way in which FELA claims for railroad workers are similar to regular worker’s compensation claims is that there is a strict time limit to file. If you or someone you love in the railroad industry has been injured on the job, it’s time to call your lawyer! Our team of personal injury lawyers can help you get all the benefits and coverage you deserve under the law.