I was in the office recently when the frantic spouse of an injured railroader called and asked that I meet her at the hospital.
A short time later, as I walked into the Emergency Room, I heard the railroad's senior claim agent say to her, "Don't worry about your husband. What ever you need, let us know."
On the surface, those can be very comforting words when the injured railroader is in triage and being prepared for surgery. But considering who offered those "words of comfort," that statement was equivalent to Colonel Sanders telling the chickens not to worry.
You see, the fact is a claim agent earns his living saving the railroad money by reducing amounts paid out in claims - not by helping you or your family. The railroads have paid bonuses to their claim agents for reducing the amount of settlement money paid to injured railroaders. Because the claim agent wants to retain control of the claim for a direct settlement with you, he will tell you and your family what they think you want to hear – not what you need to know. He does not want you to seek the advice of an attorney – let alone hire an attorney!
If a claim agent was being truly candid, here's what he would say to an injured railroader:
- "We're starting an immediate investigation into the accident to determine that your carelessness and rule violations were the cause of your injuries."
- "Unless you can somehow prove that the accident was the railroad's fault, you have no legal rights to any recovery."
- "You do not have to give a statement to a claim agent. If you decide to give a statement, you should first talk to a railroad accident attorney at Hoey & Farina."
- "We will send you to a doctor of our choice even though you have the right to choose and be treated by your own doctor."
- "The railroad doesn't pay your medical bills. They are paid by your health insurance carrier."
- "The railroad will have you under video surveillance whether or not you decide to ‘cooperate.' (Our plan is to find you doing something inconsistent with your restrictions.)"
- "The money the railroad ‘advances' you while you're off work because of your injury will be deducted from any settlement. It's not just free money."
- "When you are off injured, you will lose service months with the RRB. The railroad may or may not buy the service months back. It's a matter for negotiations."
If you ever suffer a work injury, think twice if you hear a claim agent say, "Don't worry." Listen to what he has to say but remember who he represents. He can't serve both your interests and the railroad's. To paraphrase the Bible, "You can't serve two masters."
At Hoey & Farina, we serve you, the injured railroader, and you alone. We are here for you and family any time that you may need us, 24 hours a day.