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How does pure comparative negligence affect a FELA claim?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Fela Claims

Railroad workers suffering from significant injuries or illnesses due to work-related incidents have recourse under federal law. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) offers support when state-level options are unavailable. FELA allows injured railroad workers to seek compensation, provided their employer — typically the railroad company — contributed to the accident.

However, the company isn’t the only one under scrutiny. The workers’ actions related to the injury can also change the outcome of their cases, specifically the compensation they might receive.

Understanding the comparative negligence principle

Pure comparative negligence assesses the shared fault between the employer and the employee in a railroad accident. If a court determines that a railroad worker is partly to blame for their injury, the jury may reduce their compensation. For example, if a worker seeks $200,000 in damages but is 30% at fault, the court could reduce the amount they receive by 30%. This results in a final award of $140,000. This system ensures everyone’s responsibility is considered, and workers can still receive compensation even if they were partly at fault.

The amount of damages available

When a FELA case goes to court, the jury determines how much money a railroad worker can get. They decide this based on several factors, such as:

  • The severity of the injury
  • Its impact on the worker’s earning capacity
  • Medical treatment costs and other related expenses

The good news is there’s no limit or cap to how much compensation a worker can get under FELA.

What this means for injured workers

It’s important to note that if railroad workers are partly to blame for their accidents, this can change how much money they can receive. FELA serves as a vital resource for these injured workers, offering a path for them to seek compensation. However, it is not a straightforward process. The principle of comparative negligence comes into play in these cases. It adjusts each worker’s compensation to fit their specific situation, considering their role in the accident.

Even so, this system still aims to aid the workers in need of help, giving them the necessary recompense they need to recover.

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