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What is the Difference Between Workers Comp and FELA?

September 18, 2017

Employees for railroad companies and their independents are protected under a different regulation than workers’ compensation. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act provides compensations for railroad workers and their dependents when they are injured as a result of the railroad company’s negligence.

While there aren’t as many accidents occurring to railroad workers compared to workers in many other vocations, there are still thousands. And among those thousands, there are also some fatalities. Some of these injuries might come from exposure to fumes or collisions with other vehicles, but the numbers on just how many of these incidents were the result of employer negligence is unclear.

Even so, many people sometimes mix up the two systems, believe that the Federal Employers’ Liability Act covers employees for other government jobs, or that Worker’s Compensation, also known as Workman’s Compensation, covers railroad workers. A Houston work injury law firm, like Fears Nachawati, understands these differences.

FELA was enacted by the U.S. Congress back in 1908 to help benefit railroad workers injured and disabled on the job. It helped them get both compensation and medical treatment.

Differences Between FELA and Workers’ Comp

Both systems have complexities, and they even have some similarities, but they do have some recognizable differences.

Fault-Based Liability

Under Workers’ Compensation, anyone injured on the job is able to claim benefits for both lost income and to help pay for their medical bills. They do not have to prove that their employers were negligent in order to receive these benefits.

However, with FELA, a railroad employee will have to prove their employer’s negligence was the cause of their injury. (This could also include injuries caused by a fellow employee.) One needs to prove negligence before they receive any compensation.


Interestingly, an employee under Workers’ Compensation laws can only receive benefits under a statutory cap, which happens to vary from state to state. They’re also usually unable to receive compensation for pain and suffering, which is a more common item sued for in a personal injury case, not a worker’s comp case.

Under FELA, an injured employee (who has proven their employer’s negligence as the cause of their injury) will receive full compensation, including pain and suffering, as well as loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages are also often awarded by a judge or jury.

FELA cases are much more complex than simple Workman’s Compensation cases, which necessitates an experienced lawyer on your side.

If you’ve been involved in a work accident that you believe might be the fault of your employer’s negligence, you need a Houston work injury law firm to help walk you through the steps to receiving the right amount of compensation. Call Fears Nachawati at (713) 589-6958, or come down to their Houston offices on Kirby Drive to discuss your case. You can also visit their offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio, as well as their offices in Denver and Tampa.


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