Seven Steps To Do After An On-Duty Railroad Injury

Railroaders’ Steps After An On-Duty Injury
The minute an injury 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. Use the following steps to protect you and your family:
1. Get medical attention

Take an ambulance if needed or get to your own doctor ASAP – Don’t wait!

2. Give complete and accurate history to your doctors

Ensure you give details of each body part that hurts and exactly how the accident happened.

3. Don't be pressured to let the railroad managers talk to your doctors

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.


4. Fill out the personal injury report as soon as possible

Most carriers have a rule that the report must be filled out as soon as possible. Fill out as soon as you feel capable, and do not let management fill it out for you to sign. Always list ALL parts of your body that hurt and any defective conditions/equipment which caused the accident.

5. Do not give a recorded statement to the claims department

You are NOT legally required to give a statement that benefits no one but the Railroad.

6. Write down details of the accident

Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses and co-workers to your accident. When you get home, write down all the details in a notebook while it is fresh in your mind.

Documenting your accident and your railroad injury
If you’re able at the time of your railroad accident, try to do the following:

  • Take pictures of the location of the accident, especially if you were in a crossing accident.
  • Take pictures of any machinery or equipment that contributed to your accident.
  • Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any crew members or witnesses to your accident.
  • Take photographs of any visible injuries before they heal.

In the months after your accident:

  • Keep any records of your earnings that you’ve lost and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Keep a pain journal to document your bad pain days or changes in your condition.
  • Show your doctor the pain journal to properly document the extent of your pain and injury.

Documenting all those things before you file an injury claim is essential. Keeping a record will go a long way in building your case and getting you the compensation you need.

It takes time for these benefits to start, and your doctors will need to fill out forms if you are going to be out longer than 30 days, so apply sooner rather than later.  These benefits can help you supplement your lost income while out injured.


Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits

The Railroad Retirement Board (“RRB”) provides benefits to railroad employees to restore their lost wages when they have a period of unemployment or sickness.  These benefits are based on biweekly claims filed with the Railroad Retirement Board, and certain funds are paid directly to railroad workers for unemployment or sickness.  The benefit year for any of these benefits of unemployment or illness begins July 1.

For a railroader to qualify, you must have earnings of at least $3,900.00 in any calendar year.  If you don’t meet those requirements but have at least ten years of service, you may still be able to qualify based on certain conditions.

It is essential to apply for your sickness benefits as soon as possible after a railroad injury.  Although you have to wait four (4) consecutive days of sickness or injury before the benefits will begin, it is essential to start that process as quickly as possible because the physician that has seen you for your injury will have forms that are required to be filled out by the Railroad Retirement Board.  Your doctor must complete the statement of sickness, which is part of the application.

The maximum daily benefit rate for sickness benefits is $78.00 per day.  That daily rate will rise to $80.00 in July 2020.  You can obtain an application for sickness benefits on our website,  Your union should also have a sickness benefit form.  The form number is Form SSI-1A.

Even if you don’t need the sickness benefit application now, the Railroad Retirement Board suggests keeping an application handy and ensuring that your family has access to it and knows how to use it.  Please get in touch with our office to help fill out the form or explain how the benefits work.

Once these forms are completed, you must mail them to the Railroad Retirement Board’s headquarters in Chicago within ten (10) days from you becoming sick or injured.  Once the board receives these forms, they will process your application and determine if you are eligible for sickness benefits.  Once the board processes your application, the Railroad Retirement Board will provide you with biweekly claims, which will be made available online and mailed to you.

Please get in touch with our law firm for any help applying for sickness benefits immediately after your injury.  Many railroaders have experienced a time in their careers when they have been furloughed and unable to work.  For instance, many Railroaders were furloughed during the Covid-19 Pandemic.  If you are furloughed, then there are unemployment benefits that you may be eligible for.  Please get in touch with our office with any questions about unemployment benefits and if you would qualify for those benefits as well.

If you receive sickness benefits and have a claim or lawsuit against the railroad where you recover monies either through a verdict or settling of your personal injury claim, the RRB has a lien for those benefits.  If you recover money from a lawsuit or claim, the RRB can claim to recover those previously paid benefits.  Those benefits will be paid back from any proceeds you receive in a settlement.

In addition to your sickness benefits, railroaders with particular months of service may also be eligible for a disability annuity or a total disability.  Suppose you have 240 months of service, equivalent to 20 years, and you cannot perform your regular railroading job. In that case, you may qualify for what the Railroad Retirement Board calls an “occupational disability” or an “occupational annuity.” You will have to submit an application that details your medical history from your physicians, supporting your claim that you cannot work.

On the other hand, a total disability is available if you have been in railroad service for 120 months or ten years; you have a permanent condition that does not allow you to perform any substantially gainful employment.  This means that, in addition to your railroading job, you would be unable to do any other job you could make money doing.

For more information about Railroad Retirement Board disability annuities or total disability annuities, the Railroad Retirement Board’s website has a wealth of information.

U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
William O. Lipinski Federal Building
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-1275
Toll-Free: (877) 772-5772
TTY: (312) 751-4701
Directory: (312) 751-4300

You can always contact our office for more information and questions about these differences and nuances of railroading benefits.

For more information on what to do after a Railroad injury, click here.


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