Union-Trusted Arizona Railroad Law Attorneys
Railroad workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. It’s not uncommon for railroad employees to be hurt at least once, if not more, during their careers. While injuries aren’t always serious, they can be devastating when they are. You don’t have to constantly work in fear of being hurt while on the job, but it is important for you and your family to be prepared in case the worst does happen. And if it does, you can rest assured that the competent and experienced lawyers at Rabb & Rabb, PLLC are here to help.
Railroad Workers and FELA
FELA, or the Federal Employers Liability Act, was put in place to protect railroad workers in the event of serious injury. It isn’t worker’s compensation – under FELA, the injured worker must prove that the railroad did something wrong, and that the wrongful act caused the injury. This is the only way railroad employees have a chance at receiving compensation for harm inflicted while working. While worker’s compensation benefits are usually meager at best, under FELA if a railroad employee can prove that the railroad or any of its agents or employees did even the smallest thing to contribute to the injury, he or she is entitled to all related past and future medical expenses and wages lost, any other expenses related to the injury and all past and future pain and suffering related to the injury. Fortunately there are many federal laws and case interpretations that can help the employee prove that the railroad was at fault for the incident.
Protecting Yourself Against Injury
Railroads are businesses like any other, and you can be sure they are out to protect themselves in the case something goes wrong on the job. Unfortunately, because of the lack of worker’s compensation laws for railroad employees, holding a railroad accountable for damages can be a very difficult task. Before an incident even happens the railroads are actively working to limit their responsibility for injuries, and managers are trained to protect the railroad’s best interests.
When an accident does happen, the railroad immediately goes to work – it contacts the law department claims agents to gather as much information as possible, interviews all employee witnesses, creates reenactments, tries to interview the injured employee and even tries to interfere and control the medical care and treatment he or she receives. All of this is done to protect the railroad, not its employees.
Rights of Railroad Employees
As a railroad worker you have rights when it comes to an injury sustained while on the job. While the burden of proof of fault does fall solely on you, certain federal laws have your back. If you’re injured it’s strongly recommended you use these laws to your advantage. Federal law gives injured employees the right to:
- Receive immediate medical care and be swiftly transported to the nearest hospital
- Protection from harassment or intimidation from railroad officials – they are not allowed into exam rooms unless explicitly invited
- Follow orders and treatment plans given by the injured party’s doctor, including going home to rest
- Avoid being ushered into the railroad office for questioning following treatment of an injury
It’s also very important to remember that you are not required to give statements – you only need to fill out an accident report. This is a huge part of protecting yourself during the railroad’s investigation of the incident.
What To Do Following An Accident
When an accident happens on the job, there are a few steps that you, your spouse or someone close to you needs to take to protect yourself and help build your case against the railroad.
- Get information. Collect as much information about the incident as possible – photos, documents, witness statements, anything that may help you if you decide to file a lawsuit. Remember what, where, when, who and how. Don’t give out any information and don’t volunteer anything. Anything you say to officials could end up harming the case in the end.
- Identify those who contact you. Get the names and contact information of railroad officials, union officers, co-workers, or anyone else asking about the incident. Do not allow railroad officials into your home – remember, they are gathering evidence to protect the railroad, not you.
- Reach out to the union. Contact the union local chairman, president or any union officer for additional guidance. Chances are they already know about the incident and can further assist you.
- Don’t allow officials or claims agents to speak with the injured party or doctors. The doctors treating the injured worker may not know there is no worker’s compensation for employees. Have a “Notice Regarding Release of Information” entered into the victim’s medical chart to prevent officials from getting information.
- Do not sign anything other than papers or documents necessary for the treatment of the injured party.
- Put all expenses onto the employee’s health insurance. It’s important to note the railroad will not pay for medical expenses, despite what it may say. Keep the railroad out of the medical billing.
- Get the Union Designated Legal Counsel (DLC) involved immediately. The railroad protects itself – an injured employee needs immediate protection as well. The DLC has the ability to protect the injured employee, as well as his or her family.
Protecting Railroad Employees Since 1986
Attorney Lloyd Rabb of Rabb & Rabb, PLLC has years of experience in the railroad industry, both as an attorney and as a longtime railroad employee. He knows the laws inside and out, and knows what to expect when confronting railroad employers. Railroads are out to protect themselves, not their employees. When an accident happens resulting in injury to a worker, they’re going to do what it takes to make sure the blame isn’t placed on them. As an employee you need to protect yourself to get the compensation you deserve under FELA, and we can help. If you’ve been injured, seek medical care first. Then give us a call – we’ll help you make things right.