For railroad workers who have suffered an on-the-job injury, their compensation is unique relative to other injured workers in Illinois. Instead of workers’ compensation benefits, injured railroad workers can be entitled to benefits pursuant to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA is a Federal law which represents the exclusive remedy of railroad workers who become injured or killed as a result of working for the railroad. While workers’ compensation is an administrative remedy which bars injured workers from bringing suit against their employer in a court of law, FELA claims allow an injured railroad worker to file a civil lawsuit and seek all damages which are normally available in a civil claim for personal injury. This would include noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering which are not available to injured employees in a typical claim for workers’ compensation. As a result, compensation afforded by FELA can be much greater than a typical claim for workers’ compensation.
Another notable difference between FELA and workers’ compensation is that FELA is not a fault-free system. Rather, an injured worker must establish that the railroad was legally negligent in causing the injury. However, the amount of negligence required to be attributed to the railroad in causing the injury or death is drastically different than a normal civil personal injury claim. The injured railroad worker only needs to establish that the railroad’s negligence played some part in causing the injury or death. The railroad’s negligence does not need to be the most important cause or the most recent cause. It just needs to be established that the railroad was somehow negligent and that said negligence played some role in causing the injury or death.
If you are a railroad worker and you have suffered an on-the-job injury, you should speak with our Chicago FELA attorney to discuss your rights. The Eames Law Group, Ltd. will work with you to discuss all potential theories of negligence and work to obtain the maximum possible compensation which you should be entitled to receive pursuant to Federal law.