If you sustain an injury while working on the railroad in Illinois, you may wonder if you can recover compensation from your employer and if so, which laws allow you to do so. As a federal employee, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation. However, the Federal Employers Liability Act provides certain protections in the event you sustain a work-related injury or lose a loved one to railroad work.

According to FindLaw, FELA is a federal cause of action that the United States Congress developed in 1908 to protect all railroad workers. Thanks to this act, all courts across the nation use the same liability standards when assessing railroad injury cases.

Though like workers’ compensation FELA assists railroad workers in the event of injury, it differs in several other important ways. For one, FELA is not a no-fault system. If you hope to collect compensation under the act, you must prove that an agent, officer or employee of the railroad acted negligently. You may also show that a car, engine, track, machinery, appliance, roadbed or other piece of equipment was defective.

In addition to proving negligence or defects, you must also establish “feather weight causation.” In almost every FELA case heard in a state or federal court, the judge asks the plaintiff to establish a connection between the purported wrongdoing and his or her damages. That said, the burden of proof is not a tough one to prove. Under FELA, if the railroad’s negligence played any role in the incident that resulted in your injury, regardless of how small a role, it must compensate you. This provision makes trying and settling FELA cases successfully much less stressful.

Another benefit to an injured worker is the provision that states if the railroad breaches its duty imposed on it by a safety regulation or statute, the worker need not prove that the railroad was negligent. Rather, the courts would consider such a breach as automatic grounds for recovery.

Though railroad workers cannot recover compensation under workers’ compensation laws, they do have the FELA. FELA grants railroaders many benefits not available to those in other occupations.

The content in this post is for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice.