The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was passed in the early 1900s in response to the increasing number of railroad worker deaths. FELA allows for injured railroad workers who are not covered by workers’ compensation to sue their employers based on the employer’s negligence. Importantly, a FELA claim may entitle a claimant to compensation for pain and suffering, unlike a traditional Maryland personal injury lawsuit.
Unlike traditional workers’ compensation programs, FELA is not automatically applicable. In other words, an injured worker must present evidence that their employer was negligent. In addition, an employer may try to defeat a FELA claim by showing that the employee was covered under a traditional workers’ compensation plan. If an employer is successful in proving workers’ compensation coverage, that will generally be seen as the employee’s sole remedy against their employer. Thus, a common issue that arises in Maryland railroad accident cases brought under FELA is whether the injured employer is covered by a workers’ compensation program. A recent federal appellate opinion discusses a case involving such a dispute.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured while working for the defendant railway. Evidently, the plaintiff was working on a bridge when the walkway he was standing on gave way. The plaintiff was able to avoid falling into the river, but sustained serious injuries as a result. The plaintiff filed a FELA claim against his employer.