A FELA case is a lawsuit brought pursuant to federal law that claims a covered railroad worker was injured on the job and entitled to compensation.
FELA Case Types
Lawsuits are not friendly endeavors. Yet, if you are hurt on the job as a railroad employee, then FELA lawsuits could be your last chance to recover for the injuries that you sustained (to learn about what you can recover for, click here). In the midst of the litigation, you might get lost in the jargon and maneuvers that the attorneys are engaging in but it is important to have a general understanding of what the goals are. In fact, we hear from a number of victims of railroad injuries that they do not even know what kind of suits FELA cases are or how they are different from other kinds of cases. Therefore, in this article, we want to give you an overview of what your Illinois FELA case will look like and how it is unique from other varieties of litigation.
What Forms Of Cases Do FELA Claims Take?
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (or FELA as it commonly referred to) provides a right of action for railroad/train employers if they are hurt on the job. Essentially, plaintiffs must show that the employer was legally negligent, so in that regard they are a specific breed of general negligence cases. Negligence cases require a claimant to plead and prove that the defendant acted unreasonably in the circumstances or, put another way, that a reasonable person would have acted different in a similar situation.
Note, this might mean that the defendant took no action at all where a reasonable actor would have. There are some particular points you must make and convince a jury of should you succeed on your FELA claim. Here they are:
- You are a railroad employee.
- You were injured while working.
- The employer’s actions or inactions caused your injuries (i.e. inability to provide you with a safe work space, supply of unsafe equipment, etc.).
- Your injuries resulted in damages (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.).
How Are FELA Claims Different From Other Cases?
While FELA cases basically mirror negligence cases, they do not look anything like other forms of litigation. For instance, products liability trials are very common and take an entirely different shape. In these trials, plaintiffs sue because some product caused them injury. They have to show that some defect in design or manufacture harmed them while they were reasonably using it.
Generally, they can sue the manufacture, distributor, or retailer. Another common cause of action is a wrongful death suit. Following someone else’s passing, his or her loved ones or spouse can sue the wrongful party for the special damages that the death caused them. These damages can include loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and even burial expenses. Typically, plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant caused the decedent’s death and that the passing left them with particular harms.
How Are FELA Claims Different From Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Both FELA and workers’ compensation claims involve incidents that arise out of work settings. Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to confuse the two. However, there are some important differences that distinguish them from one another. Most importantly, while many state workers’ compensation claims do not require plaintiffs to prove fault, the federal FELA regime requires plaintiffs to prove that the defendant employer was legally negligent.
Additionally, several states cap the total amount that you can recover for in a workers’ compensation claim and even bar certain kinds of damages like pain and suffering and other non-economic injuries. On the other hand, FELA claims have no such limitation in terms of total amount or injury kind with respect to compensation. There are many other nuances to FELA cases and if you contact our team of attorneys we can walk you through the specifics of your trial.
What Kinds Of Incidents Give Rise To FELA Claims?
Here are some common examples of scenarios that trigger FELA suits:
- Railroad employee gets injured while using a sub-standard piece of equipment.
- Railroad employee gets injured because another person attacks him and the employer did not provide proper protection.
- A train or other vehicle hits a railroad employee because the operator did not provide sufficient warning.
- Objects fall on railroad employees while they are working.
- Toxins or other substances leak and injure railroad employees at work.
Want To Know More About FELA Cases?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you understand the various procedural and substantive issues involved in FELA lawsuits. Also, if you do decide to bring a case for damages, we can even represent you on contingency which means that we will only charge for our services if you are happy with your award. To hear about what that award or settlement might be, please call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today.
To learn more about FELA claims, please read the following articles: