FELA and How It Relates to You

federal employers liability actThe Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) differs from worker’s compensation.

It is a law designed to protect railway workers in the United States. The act protects workers by setting certain minimum standards for railroad workplace safety. It also provides a system for compensating injured railroad workers for their injuries.

Under the FELA law, an injured worker can receive compensation for injuries, medical bills, and time off work.

How FELA Applies to Railroad Workers

FELA is designed to replace the workers’ compensation system. Most workers go through the workers’ compensation system, administered by that state’s Department of Labor or Industrial Commissioner.

FELA is a Federal law passed by Congress, and the FELA claims system is administered by the Federal government. Railroad employees, or, sometimes, their survivors or families, must use the FELA claims system.

To recover under FELA, an injured individual must show four things:

  1. They must show they were employed by the railroad and assigned to duties in the course of that employment that furthered the interest of their employer;
  2. They must show that the railroad is a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce;
  3. They must show they were injured while employed by the railroad;
  4. They must show that the injury arose, at least in part, through the railroad’s negligence.


The requirement that the railroad is at least somewhat negligent is a different standard from regular workers’ compensation. In most workers’ compensation claims, the employer is liable regardless of the question of negligence, so long as the employee isn’t engaged in misconduct.

Under FELA, the railroad employer must be shown to be at least negligent in part before liability can be established. The fact that the employee is also negligent does not defeat a FELA claim. However, employee negligence might reduce the amount of a claim under comparative fault rules.

It is frequently easy to prove negligence on the part of the railroad. Unlike traditional tort law cases, the railroad need not be wholly or even primarily responsible for the injuries. It is sufficient to show that the railroad neglected some duty, obligation, or regulation to recover a claim.

Examples of railroad negligence that could lead to recovery include inadequate training, poorly designed workplaces with inadequate concern for workplace safety, missing or improper safety gear, or failure to enforce safety standards or workplace regulations.

As with any other workplace injury claim, railroads and insurance carriers are often reluctant to settle FELA claims promptly. Usually, any settlement that occurs after the case investigation shows negligence on the part of the railroad.

If it can be shown that the railroad was negligent and that their responsibility was considerable, railroads will often make a settlement offer. If you have received an offer, you should consult an attorney before accepting or rejecting it.

FELA Rights

Under FELA, injured workers can recover from their injuries and expenses. A FELA claim could potentially compensate a worker for past and future medical expenses; lost income for the time taken from work to recover from the injury; disability, if the injury is long-term or even permanent and will lead to a loss of function, and lost earning capacity if the worker is not able to return to his old job at the same rate.

FELA does not allow for an award of punitive damages. Railroad injuries are frequently severe. Even recoveries for injuries, medical expenses, and loss of function could be substantial.

Best FELA Attorneys

At Cahill & Perry P.C., we routinely represent injured railroad workers in FELA claims.

We can assist an injured worker with filing a claim. We can also investigate a workplace accident and consult with medical professionals and other experts to determine the extent and severity of your injuries. We can negotiate with the railroad and their insurance carrier regarding your claim.

While most claims settle, the best FELA attorneys know that cases sometimes need a trial. We are prepared to represent you and your position vigorously in court if necessary to secure you total and fair compensation.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a railroad workplace accident, call Cahill & Perry P.C. for a consultation about your rights under FELA with an experienced FELA attorney.

find yourself a Railroad Law Attorney | Call 800-654-7245


If you are a railroad worker who has been injured on the job, you need a lawyer who understands the complicated FELA claims process. Find out how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Protecting Injured Railroad Workers,
Passengers And Families
40 years of experience

New Haven Office

43 Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Toll Free: 800-654-7245

Phone: 203-777-1000
Fax: 203-865-5904

Boston Office

470 Atlantic Avenue, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02210

Phone: (617) 217-2920


New York Office

Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue, 26th Floor
New York, NY 10174

Toll Free: 800-654-7245
Phone: 212-453-7300

connect with us