If you are injured in a railroad accident, take immediate action to protect yourself and your rights. Railroad management and claims departments will promptly build a case against your FELA rights. While this is not fair, it is the reality, and makes taking careful steps even more critical. What you do in the minutes, hours, and days after you’re injured at work can win or lose your case.
Railroad Accident & Injury Guide
Get Immediate Emergency Medical Care
Seek emergency medical care immediately after the accident occurs. Injured railroad workers often miscalculate the seriousness of an injury, or think they will heal quickly. However, prompt medical attention is crucial. Medical professionals must document the nature and extent of all injuries, no matter how minor they might seem at the time of the accident. If you do delay care or do not obtain documentation, the railroad company may later claim that the injury is not serious.
Report The Injury
If you are medically able to do so, you must report your injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. You’ll need to thoroughly and accurately communicate the facts surrounding your injury, including how and why the accident happened. Because accident and injury forms can be complicated, you may wish to contact a union or legal representative to assist you. The railroad will use even the most innocent mistake or omission against you.
Review your company’s medical leave, injury lay-off, Family Medical Leave of Absence (FMLA), and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) sickness benefits and policies. Knowledge of these procedures may protect you in the event that the railroad claims false rules violations, as well as protect any whistleblower rights you have under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA).
Get The Best Medical Care You Can
While emergency room care can be chaotic, it’s important to seek the best medical care available for any initial and follow-up visits. In most cases, you should not use providers recommended by the railroad; they know that certain providers will help their case later. It is in your best interest to choose your own providers, not only to receive the best medical care, but to protect your rights.
With any provider, you should describe the cause of your work-related injury as fully and accurately as possible. A “tough railroader” demeanor will hurt your care and your case. Give the doctors all the information they need. It may be a good idea to bring a spouse or other family member to initial meetings with providers, as they sometimes see and remember more than someone who might be dealing with a potentially career-ending injury.
Know Your Rights Under FELA
Many medical providers do not know or understand that railroad workers do not carry workers’ compensation and that their sole means of compensation is through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). They may mistakenly believe that they must share your private medical information with the railroad and consult with them for your treatment plans and return-to-work procedure. Historically, this has led to widespread interference from railroads and violations of injured workers’ rights. Make sure that your providers understand that they should not be sharing your private information with outside sources.
Keep all accident and injury-related documents and pictures. Start a witness list. Be careful when talking to railroad management or claims—or better yet, don’t speak to anyone at the railroad unless absolutely necessary. Keep a calendar or journal of the times and nature of all related appointments. You may forget much of what you’re currently going through, so journals, photos, calendars, and other documentation will help later. This is especially important if you’ve suffered a concussion, traumatic brain injury, herniated discs, or other injuries that are not visible.
Get FELA Representation
If you’ve been injured in a work-related railroad accident, find quality legal representation as soon as possible. You’ll want to work with a knowledgeable, skilled attorney who has experience with railroad injuries and FELA. Trust the railroad accident attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd. We’ve represented railroad workers in claims against railroads across the country. We’ll fight hard to protect your rights under FELA.
Contact us at Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation with FELA railroad injury attorney today.