Information for spouses of railroad workers.
If you are the spouse of a railroad worker, there may come a time when you receive a call informing you that your spouse has been seriously injured or tragically killed on the railroad. Upon receiving this news the spouse is often unsure how to proceed. The railroad knows this and may send a railroad claims agent or another official to pressure the spouse into a quick settlement at an emotionally difficult time. If this is the case, the spouse must make sure to contact the local union officers or our office for help in protecting themselves and their children.
Do's & Don'ts
Report the Injury
It is required that you report your injury to the railroad as soon as possible. Most railroads have rules requiring injured employees to complete an accident report form. It is important to document any aspect of railroad negligence or fault in the accident report form. You are not required to give any other statement regarding your accident to the railroad claims agent. If the agent attempts to take your statement, you may refuse to provide one. If you chose to give a statement, please contact your union representative or our office for help before doing so.
Contact Your Union Representative
Report your injury to your local union officer as soon as possible. Your union officer is there to help you. The union officer can help you obtain leave if necessary and get benefits to which you are entitled. Also, your union officer can help protect your job and seniority rights while you are off work.
Seek Medical Care
It is important that you get the proper treatment for your injuries. You are entitled to choose any doctor to provide medical treatment.
Apply For Sickness Benefits
If you are injured and will be off from work, you may be entitled to sickness benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board. Ask your local union officer or contact our office for the proper forms. The sickness benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board are to help you while you are unable to work, however, these benefits must be paid back out of any settlement or judgment you receive in your case.
Keep Accurate Records
It is important that you keep records of the facts surrounding your injury including any witnesses, any expenses you incur, photographs of your injuries, the location of the accident, and names and addresses of all doctors who treated you. These records can help when it comes time preparing your case for litigation. The more information you have the better!
Restrict Access to Your Medical Records
Medical facilities and doctors are accustomed to workplace injuries being handled under state worker’s compensation laws which permit them to share your records with insurance companies involved. Railroad injuries are different. Make sure access to diagnosis and treatment information is limited by informing your healthcare provider that this is a railroad injury.
Delay reporting your injury.
Fail to get immediate medical treatment from your own doctor or the hospital of your choice.
Accept the doctor or medical facility recommended by your employer.
Fail to provide all the pertinent information about your injury in the Railroad’s Accident Report. Most important are facts that prove the employer’s worksite or procedures were unsafe. This form is the only information you are required to provide to the railroad.
Under no circumstances should you give a statement to your supervisor or claims agent. Such statements will be recorded and may include portions which can be interpreted as suggesting negligence on your part. Such statements are not required and will never be helpful to the injured worker.