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Railroad Workers’ Compensation in California

Injuries, illness, and sometimes even death can result from accidents in rough working environments. Railroad workers are usually at the forefront of dangerous working environments that can cost them their life or lead to a work-related injury that puts them out of work for months or even permanently. The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) was created in response to the dangers railroad workers face. Under FELA, railroad workers have certain rights and protections to seek compensation if they suffer from work-related injuries. However, it is important to understand that FELA differs from California’s workers’ compensation insurance. For one, FELA only governs claims brought by railroad workers for injuries sustained while on duty. 

A California railroad workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of a railroad workers’ compensation. An attorney will be well versed in FELA laws and ready to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. If you or a loved one have been injured while working on a railway, a determined and expert California workers’ comp lawyer can help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve. 

How Is FELA Different From Workers’ Comp?

The FELA and workers’ compensation insurance operate to compensate workers who’ve been injured while on the job. However, the similarities between the two systems stop there. While workers’ comp operates within California, FELA is a federal system of legal recovery for railroad workers and their families should a worker sustain an injury while working.

In a regular workers’ comp case, injured workers are entitled to certain benefits after a workplace injury regardless of who caused the accident. California is a no-fault state, meaning the worker doesn’t have to prove their employer is liable. Under California workers’ comp, employees don’t have a burden of proof and don’t need to prove negligence. 

On the other hand, FELA claims require injured workers to prove that their employer was somehow negligent and that the negligence contributed to or caused their injury. To successfully bring a FELA claim, the injured worker must prove that their employer, in some manner, failed to provide a safe working environment for the employee, which led to the worker’s injury. Furthermore, FELA claims are generally handled in state or federal court, while workers’ comp follows a more administrative process.

Proving negligence requires four elements to be met.

  • Duty of care: Your employer owed you a legal standard of care to take necessary steps to prevent harming you and other employees.
  • Breach of duty: Your employer failed to exercise reasonable care. 
  • Causation: The breach of duty caused or contributed to your injury.
  • Damages:The total amount of money you can receive for your injury and the subsequent harm caused.

The best way to help ensure a successful claim is to work with an experienced California railroad workers’ compensation lawyer. A California lawyer has the necessary expertise to help you prove negligence in your FELA claim to recover the maximum compensation possible.

Requirements Under the FELA

Under FELA, employers are required to:

  • Ensure a safe working environment
  • Ensure workers are appropriately trained
  • Ensure there is enough supervision at the job sites to provide guidance and assistance
  • Ensure people hired are capable of maintaining a safe work environment
  • Implement safety regulations outlined by FELA
  • Protect workers from intentional harm committed by others
  • Prohibit unreasonable work quotas

When these regulations are violated and a worker is injured, that worker can file a claim with the FELA. While workers have a burden of proof when filing a FELA claim, it’s a lesser burden than establishing negligence under a traditional personal injury claim. The FELA ensures that workers only need to provide a small amount of proof to proceed with the claim. This lesser burden gives railroad workers a leg up in filing FELA claims than regular personal injury claims but a more significant burden than employees filing a regular workers’ comp claim. 

What Damages Are Available in a FELA Claim?

Although FELA claims have stricter requirements than workers’ comp due to the burden of proof, FELA benefits railroad workers in other ways. While workers’ comp benefits are generally limited to medical expenses, loss of income, and disability, FELA claimants can seek additional damages more typical to personal injury cases. Damages available in a FELA claim can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages due to injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress caused by injury
  • Loss of future earning capacity due to injury
  • Damages caused by partial or full disability
  • Wrongful death for surviving family members

Proving negligence and determining the value of the damages you can receive from a FELA claim requires a comprehensive investigation into the cause of your injury and into the effect the injury has had on your life. While the purpose of FELA is to help and protect injured workers, insurance companies remain the same. Their goal is to limit their payout. By working with a trusted and skilled California railroad workers’ comp lawyer, you can be confident that there is someone in your corner fighting for your best interests.

Contact a California Railroad Workers’ Comp Lawyer at KCNS Law Group

At KCNS Law Group, we believe in protecting the rights of injured workers across California. Workers deserve to work in a safe environment that cares for their well-being. When railroad employers are negligent, they risk the safety and health of their employees and should be held responsible. Our workers’ comp attorneys have the necessary experience and knowledge to help you build a strong claim and recover maximum compensation for your injuries and other damages. 

Schedule a consultation to speak with one of our California railroad workers’ compensation attorneys today. We are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us by filling out our contact form or calling (818) 937-9255.

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KCNS Law Group LLP

Understand Your Rights Today
Call Us Now (818) 937-9255
For A Free Consultation

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