Working on the railroad is no walk in the park.
That’s why FELA was established in the early 1900s – to protect and compensate railroad workers who were injured on the job. When a railroad exhibits negligence and tragedy strikes, FELA is there to protect not only railroad workers themselves, but their spouses and families, too.
Roven Camp is an experienced railroad injury law firm based in Houston, Texas. Let us walk you through the basics of FELA protections for railroad workers and their spouses.
What steps should I take after my spouse’s accident?
Railroads will try to rush injured railroad workers and their families after a serious injury. They may offer continuing wage payments or even possible settlement early in the process, when families are more concerned about getting proper medical care for their loved one and concerned about how they will provide for the family.
Take your time completing the following steps after your spouse’s accident:
- Visit a medical provider of your choice.
- Contact your spouse’s union representative.
- Consult an experienced FELA lawyer like our lawyers at Roven Camp.
- Gather evidence like witness testimonies, names, photos, videos, and more.
- Apply for benefits with the railroad retirement board.
Let’s look at some of those steps more closely.
Choosing your medical provider
Unlike some workers’ rights laws, FELA allows railroad workers to choose their own medical professionals.
It is crucial to receive care from a provider of your (or your spouse’s) choice. Railroad companies may try to push you toward providers that aim to reduce costs and recovery time as opposed to focusing on your healing.
These doctors may even try to say that the injured employee can return to work before he/she is fully recovered. You are always entitled to a second opinion and it is our recommendation to choose a doctor that you trust is working on behalf of you, the employee, and not the railroad.
Trusting an experienced FELA lawyer
An experienced FELA lawyer like our team at Roven Camp is your greatest asset through the claims and recovery process.
Railroad injury attorneys work for your family’s dignity – not the railroad or insurance’s benefit. Lawyers with FELA experience can help with the specific processes related to FELA claims, which differ from typical workers’ compensation.
Completing the accident report
After a work-injury, claims agents and other railroad representatives will push an injured worker to give a recorded statement. They may do this even while the injured employee is hurting and on pain medication. You and your spouse are not required to give a recorded statement. If you end up having to file a lawsuit, the railroad will try to use the information you provide against you.
However, the only paperwork an injured employee may be required to complete (there are exceptions) is a report of personal injury form that is used by the railroad employer. You do not have to provide additional information beyond what is requested on that form.
Why are physical and mental capabilities important in FELA cases?
The most important thing to do in the case of a railroad accident, including one that involves your spouse, is to take your time. Railroads and claims agents sometimes try to take advantage of injured workers and their spouses in times of duress.
Claims agents working for the railroad may falsely state that you must give a recorded statement before they can offer financial assistance. They may also offer an advance to help with bills, but you should be aware that if, or when, the railroad offers to settle your case they will want a credit, or to be reimbursed, for those continuing wage or assistance payments.
Railroad companies may also offer compensation in the event of workers’ deaths. However, accepting money directly from the railroad and signing a release bars victims’ families from suing for damages at a later date, even if you find that the settlement was not fair or was insufficient to provide for the family’s needs after the loss of a loved one.
As you can see, there are many risks to rushing the process. Railroads and claims agents know this and will try to use this against you.
Don’t let them rush you. Take time to visit doctors, heal, and process the situation before filling out paperwork and communicating with claims agents. Only start when you have the physical and mental capacity to handle the claim with the proper care and with all the facts.
If you’re injured while working on the railroad in Texas, or any other State, we’re here to help.
Contact Houston FELA attorneys at Roven Camp today
Even with safety measures and workers’ protections, the railroad remains one of America’s most dangerous workplaces. In the case of injuries, or even deaths, railroad and insurance companies don’t always have the best interests of their employees or their families in mind. Roven Camp railroad injury attorneys do.
Contact our team of FELA attorneys in Houston, TX today. This is not our first rodeo protecting railroad workers’ rights and dignity, and we are here to help your family through the recovery and justice process.