Amtrak workers can receive compensation under a federal law called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The FELA provides a means to compensate railroad workers when they are injured on the job or when they contract an occupationally-related disease, like lung cancer. Amtrak employees may not be covered by state workers’ compensation laws, but they do have the benefit of being covered by the FELA.

This is important because the two systems have very different ways of compensating workers. Each state generally has a workers’ compensation law that compensates workers when they are injured on the job or develop a disease related to their job. State workers’ compensation laws provide damages for medical expenses and lost wages. Under most state workers’ compensation laws, a claimant does not need to prove negligence. That means the claimant does not have to prove that the employer is at fault for the injury or disease.

The FELA is different. Railroad workers do have to prove the railroad did something wrong, that is, they were negligent. Though the FELA claimant must prove negligence, he or she need only prove that the railroad was negligent, in any part. Even the slightest negligence will suffice to prove a case under the FELA. Once proven, the railroad worker can not only obtain damages for lost wages and medical expenses, but also damages for pain and suffering. These types of damages can range into the millions of dollars and are generally not available under state workers’ compensation laws.

Amtrak workers can receive compensation under the FELA by proving that Amtrak was negligent – it did something wrong that caused an injury or disease. For example, when Amtrak fails to repair a broken step on a locomotive and an engineer falls on that step, Amtrak could be negligent in failing to repair that step and the Amtrak worker could recover compensation under the FELA.

Amtrak workers and retirees can also recover compensation under the FELA when they develop cancer. For example, when Amtrak allowed a cancer-causing product like asbestos to be used in its locomotives and buildings, Amtrak could be negligent. When an Amtrak worker or retiree gets cancer-related to exposure to asbestos, like mesothelioma or lung cancer, they can recover compensation under the FELA.

If you worked for Amtrak, or another railroad, and suffered a work-related injury or disease, call an experienced FELA attorney to discuss your right to compensation under the FELA.