If you suffer an on-the-job injury as a railroad worker, you do not have the same type of coverage as workers in most other fields. 

Instead of the workers’ compensation program, the Federal Employers Liability Act is responsible for your care coverage. Here are three basic differences. 

1. FELA is a federal program

State laws regulate workers’ compensation programs. Federal law established FELA, and cases may go before federal or state courts rather than state departments such as the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations Division of Workers’ Compensation. 

2. FELA is fault-based

Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses and a portion of the worker’s salary no matter who caused the injury or illness. However, a worker receiving workers’ compensation does not have the right to sue the employer in most cases. 

FELA requires you to prove that someone else’s negligence harmed you. This could be the railroad, or it could be a railroad employee or a manufacturer of equipment. If you are partially to blame for the accident, the court may reduce your award by your percentage of fault. However, if your employer violated a safety law and that contributed to your injury, the court will not consider your negligence as relevant or reduce your award. 

3. FELA does not have compensation limits

Workers’ compensation programs typically provide calculations to figure how much an employee can receive for any given injury, illness or disability. FELA does not have these limits and may compensate pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement in much higher amounts.