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FELA v. Workers’ Compensation

State workers’ compensation laws do not apply to the railroad industry. When the FELA was enacted in 1908 state workers’ compensations systems had not yet been adequately developed and implemented. Today, every state has a workers’ compensation system which provides a scheme by which injured employees receive compensation for work-related injuries. Despite the railroad industry’s past attempts to repeal the FELA in favor of state workers’ compensation systems, more than 105 years later the FELA still remains the exclusive remedy for injured railroad workers.

There are three fundamental differences between FELA claims and workers’ compensation claims:

  • Negligence: The FELA is a fault-based federal statute where the injured employee must prove railroad negligence and that the negligence caused, even in the slightest the resulting injuries in order to recover financial compensation. In comparison, under state workers’ compensation systems, the negligence of the employer and the contributory negligence of the employee are, with a few exceptions, irrelevant in determining whether the employee will receive some compensation for the work-related injuries.
  • Choice of doctor: Under the FELA, an injured railroad worker has the right to treat with medical providers of his/her choice and the employee’s collectively bargained health insurance and/or a separate insurance policy maintained by the railroad will cover the cost of necessary medical treatment. In comparison, the employer has the right to direct the injured employee to the company’s medical provider of choice in a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Right to a jury trial: Under the FELA, an injured railroad employee has the right to file a civil lawsuit in either state or federal court, and have a jury determine the appropriate amount of compensation based on the evidence presented. While the FELA does not allow for punitive damages, there is no cap or limit on the amount of compensation a jury can award to compensate the injured employee for all of the harms and losses sustained. In comparison, the amount of financial compensation that an injured employee can receive in a workers’ compensation claim is limited and calculated based on a formula set by the state workers’ compensation laws.
Great Lawyer!

Jeff Chod was my lawyer in a suit against MRL in Missoula Montana.He
distinguished himself in a very professional manner. His hard work,
extensive knowledge and attention to detail enabled me to get a
satisfactorysettlement. He was easily accessible and quickly attended to all my
questions and worries. I highly recommend Jeff to anyone due to his work
ethic and willingness to go that extra mile to insure his client gets the best
possible results.

~ Brian, Victor, MT
Changed my life

I met Mr. Chod in 2007. It was the best decision I have ever made to
hire him. I was injured and scared, and he did not know me, but gave
me confidence, told me to focus on getting better and he would take
care of the rest. Amazingly he did and I made also a friend for life.

~ Tony, Amelia, OH
My experience was outstanding

As a former MOW employee for Wisconsin Central Railroad in need of an
injury attorney, it has been my experience that good FELA attorneys are hard
to find. After having to fire my first attorney due to a very frustrating
experience, I found attorney Chod and from that point on, my experience
was nothing short of outstanding. Jeff treated me personally with
compassion as if I were his only client and understood completely
the seriousness of my injury. He fought a very long and
tough battle against a team of very high powered attorneys
with due diligence...

~ Todd, Wausau, WI
Railroad Incident

I hired Mr. Chod after I had an incident at a mine here in
Wyoming when I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad
and he did an excellent job of settling my case. Mr. Chod
worked well with myself and the doctors he talked to and
other railroad employees.

~ Connie, Douglas, WY
When you need a winner, he is your guy...

In September of 2014 I suffered a career ending injury at BNSF Railway. The RR choose to not do the right thing even though I continued to have faith in them. I talked to Jeff on a recommendation of a friend after many broken promises by BNSF. I had only done one thing wrong that night, and that was trusting BNSF to accurately train, and prepare a operator to safely work along side me. I talked with Jeff and he helped ease my mind and finally realize that the RR was not conducting themselves in my best interest or livelihood. My injuries physically were were permanent and the PTSD was overwhelming and learning to deal with it was life altering. Jeff worked tirelessly for me and my future well-being. He fought them like David and Goliath and we won.

~ Lisa, Memphis, TN
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