Working on the railroad is dangerous work, and the environment fraught with hazards. This is true today, but the conditions were even worse at the turn of the 20th century, which is why Congress passed the Federal Employees Liability Act in 1908. If you or a loved one work on a railroad in Illinois, it is important that you know about and understand FELA.

According to FindLaw, FELA provides a federal system of legal recovery for injured railroad workers and their loved ones. FELA will cover almost any injury you or your loved one sustains while on the job, even if the accident that caused your injury did not occur while you were in or around a train. Though FELA acts a lot like workers’ compensation, it differs in a few ways. One of the biggest differences is the fact that FELA is not a no-fault system.

To successfully bring a claim under FELA, you must be able to prove that the defendant — which may be your employer, the railroad or the equipment manufacturer — was negligent in some way, and that said negligence caused the accident that resulted in your injury. Congress included this requirement to ensure that railroad workers have a reasonably safe environment in which to work. It also motivates railroad workers to abide by strict safety standards and regulations.

If your claim is successful, you may be able to recover past and future lost wages, past and future medical care and past and future mental duress and pain and suffering. If, in the unfortunate incident you die as the result of a railroad accident, your loved ones can receive the compensation that would have gone to you.

You should not construe the contents of this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.