FELA vs. Workers’ Comp: What’s The Difference?

FELA vs. Workers’ Comp: What’s The Difference?

FELA vs. Workers’ Comp: What’s The Difference?

By jfhoen

Many workers are familiar with workers’ compensation. Railroad workers, however, have the option to seek damages and settlement through the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). The FELA program offers protections for railway employees specifically. The program is similar to workers’ compensation but does not follow the same rules or regulations. The difference between the two programs is fault determination, the basis of claim, damages, and how you will file a claim. While both programs will compensate injured employers, there are some key differences to be aware of. 

What is the Basis for Filing a Claim?

The basis for filing a claim is critical to obtaining compensation and taking advantage of the benefits you are entitled to. Workers’ compensation claims do not require the injured worker to prove negligence caused the accident. However, a FELA claim requires wounded parties to prove that negligence was present, which resulted in the accident and injury. There are cases where only partial fault is present, which may suffice for a successful claim. 


Since negligence is not relevant to workers’ compensation claims, any evidence you present may not affect your final settlement. While this makes it much easier for regular workers, it does not have the same effect on railway workers. On the contrary, FELA claims require you to show negligence. Since fault is crucial in these claims, your settlement amount can be affected by any percentage you may have been at fault for. These claims can be complex, and the best way to garner a successful claim is to hire an experienced attorney. 

The Filing Process

A workers’ compensation claim requires an injured worker to go through their employer’s insurance company. If you face a workers’ compensation claim denial by the insurance carrier, you will need to file a claim petition and request an informal hearing. This will then move to the state worker’s compensation office.

You can file a claim directly through state or federal courts for FELA claims. FELA also provides the right to a jury trial if the need arises. The worker’s compensation office is not involved in this process at all. 

Damages Available

One final difference between FELA and workers’ compensation is the damages you may be entitled to. A workers’ compensation claim will cover medical treatment and past and future wages related to the accident. FELA claims will provide damages for emotional distress, pain, and suffering in addition to the medical damages offered by workers’ compensation claims. Workers’ compensation claims have caps on the amount of compensation you are entitled to, while FELA does not. 

Call a Railroad Worker Injury Lawyer Today

When you are involved in a workplace accident, you need to be protected, and your injuries cared for as soon as possible. Employers will try to convince injured employees not to report injuries or file claims. Whether you are eligible for a workers’ compensation or a FELA claim, you will need assistance from an experienced attorney. Hampton Injury Law PLC is here to consult on your case. You can reach our experienced attorneys by filling out our contact form.

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