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What is FELA?

  • FELA is the Federal Employers Liability Act. It is a federal law that protects and compensates railroaders injured on the job. It was enacted to protect the thousands of railroad workers employed nationwide at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Who is protected: Railroad workers, maintenance workers, mechanics and other related employees. 
  • Liability: Under FELA, an injured worker has to prove that their employer was in part responsible for their injuries. This is unlike general workers compensation laws which compensate an injured employee regardless of fault. But should an injured worker prove their employer was in some way responsible for them being hurt on the job, under FELA the employee is entitled to full compensation which includes non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Other damages available under FELA include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, mental and emotional suffering, loss of earning capacity, and permanent partial or full disability.
  • Injured employees have three years from the date of injury to bring a case under FELA.

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