If you are a railroad worker, you can not use the state’s laws for workers’ compensation. You can still use the services of Las Vegas injury lawyers because they are aware of the laws that apply but what is important is to know that you have to pursue benefits under the federal law known as FELA (Federal Employer’s Liability Act). You are entitled to compensation for repetitive stress injuries, diseases, and traumatic injuries. Similarly to workers’ compensation, with FELA you have coverage for pre-existing conditions being aggravated.
What should be noted though is there are differences when comparing claims under FELA and claims under workers’ compensation. The main distinction is that the worker has to show that there was negligence from the employer and it was that negligence that led to the illness or injuries. With worker comp, negligence does not have to be proved.
Proving Causation And Negligence
The railroad employers are liable when they act unreasonably or they do not take precautions that are meant to protect employee safety. Simply put, they must fail to offer the equipment needed to get the job done or act in any other way that would lead to an injury, like not offering proper instructions. As with all the other employers, the railways have to implement and devise safety policies and procedures. A very strong proof that negligence appeared is when the employer did not adhere to the established safety policy.
When the claimant also had a fault, the compensation award is reduced. This is quite similar to comparative negligence rules we see with personal injury claims. The degree of fault of the injured worker is decided in the form of a percentage. For instance, if the fault of the worker was 30%, only 70% of the damages will be received.
It is more difficult for the FELA claimant to receive compensation than through workers’ compensation. However, the injured railroad worker can also receive more money. This includes coverage for lost income, medical expenses, and even disabilities. At the same time though, compensation can be received for the non-economic damages suffered, like pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental distress, and losing earning capacity. Such damages will not be available when you file a workers’ compensation claim.
Filing The FELA Claim
A FELA claim can be brought to any federal or state court. However, you can only do so up to 3 years after the injury date. If you do not meet the deadline, the claim will be dismissed, even if merit exists. You will not receive financial assistance.
The difficulty is determining the injury date. This is especially true when talking about a progressive disease or condition and there was no traumatic event that triggered it. In such cases, the statute of limitations applies from when the worker should discover or discovers the illness or injury.
Basically, as with all personal injury claims, it is important to start the FELA claims process as soon as you can, preferably under the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.