On-Duty Railroad Injury: What To Do First

After an on-duty railroad accident, the most important thing to do is get the medical care you need from your doctors.  You DO NOT have to see the railroad’s “doctor,” and you can pick the doctor of your choice. Seeing a company-chosen doctor can be one of the worst decisions you make regarding your claim. The reason is simple–to determine how badly injured you are, it takes running tests; a doctor that wants more business from a large railroad company will not want to run the bill up on that railroad company, and he may be reluctant to recommend expensive tests for you. It’s easier for him to delay you and wait and watch in the hopes you may get better than to actively run expensive tests to ensure you know the full extent of your injuries.

You absolutely can and should go to your own doctor, and the railroad is legally required to pay for it

You pay your premiums, and the railroad pays part of your premiums for your medical insurance. Under the collective bargaining agreement that you have with the union, the railroad is responsible for covering your medical treatment. However, they’re not allowed to pick your doctor, and they’re not allowed to “authorize treatment.” If you have a claims agent or one of your supervisors, tell you, “I’m sorry, you can’t get your MRI,” please know that you need to do two things. You need to call a lawyer who specializes in railroad work, and you need to document this conversation. What the railroad is telling you is false. They cannot deny you medical treatment. Doing so is breaking the law.

Getting the proper medical care after your injury

After a railroad accident, the most important thing to do is get the medical care you need from your doctors. If you request medical treatment from the railroad, they must provide it immediately. They are not allowed to deny you medical treatment after you’re injured. They’re not allowed to say, “Are you sure? Do you want to wait? Maybe tomorrow. We can’t take you right now.” None of those things they can do. That is whistleblower protection.

If you have a railroad employer that does not allow you to go to the doctor or the hospital after an accident, you need to speak with an attorney immediately.

Getting the company to pay the doctor

Railroad workers are often concerned that their employer will stop their medical treatment. Under the FELA, the railroad cannot pick your doctors and does not authorize treatment, which means they legally cannot control your treatment.

Tell the doctor’s office you are NOT workers comp

The doctor’s office will probably ask if you’re Workers’ Comp. You are not. Many of the doctor’s offices have no idea what FELA is, so you will need to tell them to talk to the nurse case managers at the railroad about getting paid. The bottom line, the railroad pays for the medical treatment, but they don’t control your treatment.

Again, this is another reason why it’s essential to talk to an attorney, sooner rather than later, who can coordinate with your medical providers to let them know how this law works.

Tell your doctor the full story of how your accident happened
Once you’re able to see your doctor, make sure to give them a complete history of what happened. Tell them about your injuries and how they occurred. It’s essential to give your doctors a complete account, so you have documentation in your doctor’s notes that precisely what happened to you on the date of your accident and what parts of your body were injured in an accident. Make sure to give a complete and accurate history to your doctors. Ensure to provide exact details of each body part that hurts and exactly how the accident happened.

You must also explain to your doctor exactly how the accident and injury happened.

Unfortunately, when an injury or accident happens, the Railroad circles the wagons and puts you on the other side of the tracks. They aim to control the evidence and the story of what happened to blame you. As a result, you must seek medical attention from your doctor and report exactly what happened to your doctor.

Do not be pressured to let the railroad managers talk to your doctor when seeing your doctor. Just because the Railroad pays the bills does not mean management can talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor you do not want management in the examining room.
Keeping your company in the loop regarding your treatment

Because the railroad is your employer, it has a right to know that you’re out of work receiving treatment. There are certain forms you will need to fill out for your company so that they are kept informed. If you don’t provide updates to your company regarding your medical treatment, they can charge you with absenteeism and then terminate your employment.

Again, to protect you, it’s essential to talk to someone who knows how the railroads work in injury claims. I tell clients all the time you have to remember that the railroad protects itself. You need someone to protect you.


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