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Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and FELA Claims

If you have been involved in a work-related accident, you are likely to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer. In limited instances, you may need to learn about the FELA, or Federal Employers’ Liability Act, and how it differs from standard workers’ compensation claims. Unless you work in the railroad industry, you are likely covered by state workers’ compensation laws rather than FELA.

No matter what industry you work in, if you have been involved in a workplace accident, it is important to speak with a Maryland personal injury attorney. Work-related accident claims can be complex, and you need to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

What is the Federal Employers’ Liability Act?

FELA was born out of a need to protect railroad workers and force carriers to improve safety standards for both their employees and their patrons and their property. Congress enacted FELA in 1908, and it has forced railroad carriers to become accountable to their employees for any injuries they caused.

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act allows employees to file a lawsuit against their employer for negligence or for violation of a federal safety statute. Employees can seek compensation of medical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages. FELA covers railroad workers throughout the United States.

Claim Filing Differences

FELA allows workers to file in either federal or state court, and the injured worker is entitled to a jury trial. With a workers’ compensation claim, the injured employee will file a claim with the insurance company, which provides the benefits for the company. The employee also may waive the right to go to court in exchange for benefits based on a predetermined schedule.

How Negligence Differs

In a standard workers’ compensation claim, there is no requirement to prove employer negligence in order to claim benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. With a FELA claim, the employee is required to prove the employer’s negligence contributed to the injury. This may be through evidence of unsafe work conditions, equipment defects, or due to the actions of another contractor or railroad employee. If the injured employee was negligent in any way, the damages will be reduced by the employee’s percentage of fault.

Compensation Limits

One of the main differences between FELA and workers’ compensation claims involves the amount of financial compensation. Workers’ compensation claims are typically capped at an amount based on injuries, which can vary by state, as well. FELA has no cap on compensation limits.

Workers’ compensation claims are limited to medical treatment and current and future loss of earnings. FELA allows for non-economic damages like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment.

Retaining a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

In the event you have been injured in a workplace injury, it is important to speak with a Maryland workers’ compensation attorney. A skilled attorney can fight for you to get compensation for your medical bills, disability payments, rehabilitation and retraining, and permanent injury damages when applicable. Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation.