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Workers Compensation Vs Federal Employers Liability Act

When workers in high-risk industries are injured, they are usually protected by laws that require employers to higher standards of safety. Federal Employers’ Liability Act for instance, protects railroad workers.

To be able to claim damages under the FELA the victim must be able to prove that their injuries were at least partially caused through the negligence of the employer.

Workers’ Compensation vs. FELA

While both workers’ compensation and FELA are laws that provide protections to employees, there are significant differences between the two. These differences are based on the process of filing claims, fault assessment and types of damages that are awarded in the event of death or injury. Workers’ compensation laws offer immediate relief to injured workers regardless of who was responsible for the accident. FELA requires that claimants prove that their railroad company is at the very least partially responsible for their injuries.

In addition, FELA allows workers to sue federal courts, instead of the state’s workers compensation system. It also allows the option of a jury trial. It also provides specific rules for determining damage. A worker could receive up to 80% of their average weekly wage together with medical expenses, as well as a reasonable cost-of-living benefit. Furthermore an FELA suit could include compensation for pain and suffering.

In order for a worker to be successful in a FELA case they must prove that the railroad’s negligence was at least a role in the injury or death. This is a higher level than what is required for a successful workers’ compensation claim. This is a result of the history of FELA. In 1908, Congress passed FELA to enhance rail safety by allowing injured workers to seek damages.

As a result of over a century of FELA litigation railway companies today regularly adopt and use safer equipment, but railroad tracks, trains, yards and machine shops remain one of the most hazardous workplaces. FELA is crucial to ensure the safety of railway workers, and to tackle employers’ negligence in protecting their employees.

If you are a railway worker who has suffered an injury in the course of work it is imperative to seek legal advice as quickly as possible. The best way to begin is to reach out to the BLET designated Legal Counsel (DLC). Click on this link to locate the DLC firm in your region.

FELA vs. Jones Act

The Jones Act is federal law that permits seafarers to sue their employer for any injuries or deaths they suffer on the job. The law was passed in 1920 to protect seamen who risk their lives and limb on the high seas and other navigable waters because they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation laws similar to those that protect employees on land. It was closely modeled after the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) which covers railroad workers, and was specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of maritime workers.

Contrary to the laws governing workers’ compensation, which limit recovery for negligence to a maximum of the injured worker’s lost wages Jones Act provides unlimited liability for maritime plaintiffs in cases that involve employer negligence. The Jones Act does not require plaintiffs to prove that their employer’s negligence caused their injury or death. The Jones Act allows injured seamen to sue their employers to seek compensation for unspecified damages including the pain and suffering, future loss of earning capacity as well as mental distress, for example.

A suit for seamanship under the Jones Act can be brought either in a state court or a federal court. In a case brought under the Jones Act, plaintiffs have the right to a jury trial. This is a fundamentally different approach to the majority of workers’ compensation laws which are usually legal and do not give injured workers the right to a trial by jury.

In the case of Norfolk Southern Railway Company v. Sorrell, the US Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the contribution of a seaman to his or his own injury was subject to a higher standard of proof than the standard for proof in FELA cases. The Court held that lower courts were correct when they determined the seaman had to prove that his contribution to his accident directly led to his injury.

Sorrell was awarded US$1.5 million in compensation for his injury. Norfolk Southern, Sorrell’s employer asserted that the guidelines given to the jury by the trial court were incorrect in that they told the jury that Norfolk was solely responsible for the negligence that caused the injury. Norfolk argued the standard of causation in FELA cases and Jones Act cases should be exactly the same.

Safety Appliance Act vs. FELA

Contrary to laws regarding workers’ compensation, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act enables railroad workers to sue their employers directly for negligence leading to injuries. This is a major distinction for injured workers in high-risk sectors. After an accident, they are able to be compensated and support their families. The FELA was passed in 1908 to recognize the inherent dangers associated with the job and to establish uniform liability standards for businesses that manage railroads.

FELA requires that railroads provide a safe work environment for their employees. This includes the use of maintained and repaired equipment. This includes everything from cars and trains to switches, tracks, and other safety gear. To be successful an injured worker must demonstrate that their employer has did not fulfill their obligation of care by not providing them with a reasonably safe working environment and that their injury was the direct result of this failure.

Some workers may have difficulty to meet this requirement, especially if a defective piece equipment is responsible for causing an accident. This is why having a lawyer with expertise in FELA cases can be of assistance. A lawyer who knows the safety requirements for railroaders and the regulations that govern these requirements, can help strengthen a worker’s legal case by providing a solid legal foundation.

Certain railroad laws that could strengthen workers’ FELA case include the Locomotive Inspection Act and the Railroad Safety Appliance Act. These laws, also referred to as “railway statues,” require that rail companies and, in certain instances, their agents (such as managers, supervisors, or company executives) must adhere to these regulations to ensure the safety of their employees. The violation of these statutes could be considered to be negligence in and of themselves, meaning that a violation can be considered sufficient to support a claim for injuries under the FELA.

An illustration of a railroad statute violation is the case where an automatic coupler or grab iron isn’t properly installed or has a defect. If an employee is injured due to this, they could be entitled to compensation. However, the law stipulates that if the plaintiff was a contributor to the injury in some way (even the injury is not severe), their claim may be reduced.

Boiler Inspection Act vs. FELA

FELA is a series of federal laws which allow railroad employees and their families to recover significant damages for injuries they caused during work. This includes compensation for the loss of earnings and benefits such as medical costs as well as disability benefits and funeral expenses. If an injury causes permanent impairment or death, punitive damages could also be claimed. This is to penalize the railroad and discourage other railroads from engaging similar behavior.

Congress adopted FELA as a response to the public’s anger in 1908 at the shocking rate of fatalities and accidents on railroads. Before FELA, there was no legal mechanism for railroad employees to sue their employers if they were injured on the job. Railroad workers who were injured and their families were often left without adequate financial support during the time that they could not work because of their injuries or the negligence of the railroad.

Railroad workers injured in an accident can file claims for damages under FELA in either federal or state court. The act abolished defenses like The Fellow Servant Doctrine and assumption of risk and replaced them with the concept of comparative fault. The act determines a railroader’s part of the blame for an accident by comparing their actions with the actions of their coworkers. The law allows for a trial by jury.

If a railroad operator violates the federal railroad safety law like The Safety Appliance Act and Boiler Inspection Act it is completely liable for any injuries resulting from the violation. The railroad does not need to prove that it was negligent or that it contributed to an accident. It is also possible to make a claim under the Boiler Inspection Act when an employee is injured as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust fumes.

If you are a railroad worker who has been injured and you need to immediately seek out an experienced lawyer for railroad accidents. A good lawyer can help you file your claim and get the maximum benefits for the time you are not able to work because of the injury.

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