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What is the Federal Employers Liability Act?

From the railroad industry’s point of view, Pennsylvania is among the most important states in the United States. Thousands of miles of railway tracks crisscross the state, and those tracks are used to transport a number of necessary goods for businesses as well as passengers from one destination to another. In order to keep those railroads up and running, a large number of workers are deployed by railroad companies. Unfortunately, those workers are often exposed to workplace hazards.

Because of this, Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act or FELA in 1908 in order to protect railroad workers. The FELA has provisions under which an injured railroad worker is eligible for workers compensation benefits. In the event of the worker’s death, the person’s family members are entitled to the compensation amount. FELA applies if the worker was injured or killed on the railway tracks as well as when a worker sustains an injury or is killed while performing duties away from the railroad tracks.

In order to obtain FELA benefits, the injured worker or the worker’s representative needs to file a claim directly with the employer. In the event of a dispute, the worker is also entitled to file a lawsuit in a federal or state court. However, if the FELA claim goes to court, the burden of proof lies with the injured worker, which is unlike a state workers’ compensation program that also provides compensation for no-fault cases.

According to the provisions of FELA, a railroad worker who suffered a workplace injury can receive compensation for past and future wage loss, past and future medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. In the event of the railroad worker’s death, the family members are entitled to receive death benefits. If that worker did not have a surviving spouse or children, the benefits would be paid either to surviving parents or other relatives, as deemed fit.

Those harmed or impacted by a work accident should understand the options available to him or her. This could help individuals and loved one receive the benefits owed to them, helping them recover and move past the work accident.

Source: FindLaw, “Railroad Worker Injuries / FELA – Overview,” Accessed on Aug. 7, 2015


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