Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)

Published: | Updated: December 17, 2017

Definition - What does Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) mean?

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a nationwide law in the United States that pays benefits to injured railroad workers. The law was passed in 1908 after reports of deaths and accidents involving railroad workers at their work sites.

Insuranceopedia explains Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)

In the late 19th century, President Benjamin Harrison lamented the deaths at the railroads, comparing them with soldiers dying at war. The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1908 to provide compensation to workers who are injured in accidents while working on railroads.

The benefits that are awarded through FELA are only granted after a court investigation. The worker must prove that a railroad company is partly or wholly responsible for the accident.

Benefits received from FELA are higher than those awarded through workers' compensation and the railroad worker can still sue the company for negligence, which is a right that recipients of workers compensation must waive.

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