FELA - How Does it Differ from Workers' Compensation?
Millions of people file claims for workers' compensation benefits every year, and the types of injuries suffered by workers are just as numerous and varied as the types of jobs in which these injured workers toil. Looking into the possibility of workers' compensation is generally the first thought that an injured worker will have, but it should not be the first step taken by anyone injured while working on a railroad, as there is a different law that more closely fits your situation - the Federal Employers Liability Act, better known as FELA.
Below is a look at the main differences between these two types of laws, but if you've been injured while working on a railroad, contact a FELA lawyer at Williams Kherkher today to schedule a free initial consultation.
FELA vs. Workers' Compensation - Jurisdiction
The biggest difference between FELA and workers' compensation statutes is how they are overseen. FELA is a federal law, as almost every aspect of railroad oversight is federal in nature. This means that any claims brought will be handled by federal courts, the rules of procedure will be dictated by federal rules of practice and the ultimate decision on the award or damages will be made at a federal courthouse.
Workers' compensation claims and laws are almost entirely governed by the separate states. In fact, there are several important distinctions that exist between states and how they handle certain issues. This type of law-making would not lend itself well to workers who are essentially federal in nature.
FELA vs. Workers' Compensation - Damages
The other enormous difference between FELA and workers' compensation is in regards to the types of damages that can be recovered. Basically, most workers' compensation awards are decided under a "no-fault" process, whereby the cause of the injuries suffered by the worker is not really relevant to the ultimate award of financial benefits.
However, FELA decisions are entirely fault-based, and the cases that reach trial are generally handled much like a typical personal injury matter. The claimant must prove that someone other than him or herself was more at fault than the injured party, otherwise he or she will not be able to recover damages.
As you see, both of these areas of law are quite complicated in nature, and you may be wondering whether or not you can apply for workers' compensation benefits while simultaneously pursuing a FELA claim. For answers to this question and others you may have, contact a FELA attorney at Williams Kherkher to schedule a free initial consultation.
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