Contrary to the railroads' desire that the injured employees be kept in the dark, our firm's goal is to provide railroaders with as much information as possible to so they can protect themselves and their families in the event of a work injury.
If you suffer a work injury, here are some things you'll need to know:
WHO PAYS YOUR MEDICAL BILLS
Despite what the claim agent might lead you to believe, the railroad does not pay your medical bills. You may think, "It's a work injury. They have to pay my medical bills." That's not the case. As a railroader you are not covered under Workers' Compensation laws, but under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, a railroad does not have to pay your medical bills, only a verdict in your favor can force a railroad to be responsible for any outstanding medical bills. The railroad may or may not reimburse you for co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses, but that's it. At best, they may ‘forward' your bills to your insurance carrier, who, under your union negotiated health care plan, will pay them.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE AND SICKNESS BENEFITS
If you're off work because of an injury several things can happen that affect your health insurance and sickness benefits.
First, the railroad will notify the insurance company on a monthly basis, via electronic tape transmission, of all current employees. Because you are not working, your name will probably get dropped from that tape, and the insurance company will assume that you have either quit or been fired. You will then need to inform the insurance company that you are off work as a result of an injury in order to avoid losing your health benefits.
At the time you apply for sickness benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), the form you and your doctor would have to fill out also plays a part in the continuation of your health benefits. Your doctor would fill out his portion of the form and note an estimated return to work date. If that date arrives and you are still off work and treating for your injuries, your sickness benefits will stop, and many times your health care benefits will too.
More forms would then be sent out to the injured employee by the RRB and the insurance company which must be completed and signed by the doctor, and returned before any benefits can be reinstated. Often the form from the insurance company arrives in an envelope called a COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) package. Normally, an injured employee not working would be covered by their insurance carrier for 2 years after the year in which he last received a railroad paycheck.
Dependents would be covered for the remainder of the last year in which the employee received a railroad paycheck plus 1 more year. These numbers are not always written in stone, though, and could change according to your insurance company's coverage and your specific circumstances.
THE ONE NUMBER YOU NEED TO KNOW
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider if you have suffered a work injury. Hoey & Farina understands that when you're injured and concerned about getting back to good health these other matters can be overwhelming. That is why you only need to remember one number - 1-888-425-1212.
When others tell you what they think you want to hear, or what they only want you to know, we'll provide you the answers you need. We aree available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you or your family may have relating to that difficult period shortly after a traumatic injury.