After getting injured on the job, most railroad workers are not aware of how their medical bills are going to get paid. In fact, some railroaders are unaware that they are not eligible for workers’ compensation. In addition, because railroad workers are able to bring claims against their employers for on-the-job injuries through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), most railroad employers do not educate their workers on the FELA and what happens after a worker gets injured. This often leads to confusion among the injured worker and their medical providers and can significantly delay necessary treatment.
In most cases, railroad workers are covered by an insurance policy negotiated by their union. These policies work similarly to traditional health insurance in that they pay for medical treatment regardless if you’re hurt on or off the job. In the event of an on-the-job injury, however, the railroad may choose to pay for your medical treatment out of their own pocket as opposed to going through your insurance. In that situation, a case manager may be assigned to you under the guise of coordinating your various medical needs.
It is important to keep in mind that a case manager is an agent for the railroad and their goal is to steer your medical treatment in a way that may reduce a potential FELA claim against the railroad. They may even recommend that you seek treatment from a specific doctor or medical facility that will be focused on protecting the railroad’s interests, not yours. They may also tell you and/or your medical providers that certain treatment is not “approved.” No matter what the railroad claim agent and/or case manager tells you, you have the right to control your medical treatment following any injury, not the railroad. That is why after a railroad injury you should contact your healthcare insurance carrier right away to coordinate your medical treatment and billing. It is also helpful to inform your doctors that your treatment is covered by your insurance, NOT workers’ comp, and that no approval from the railroad is necessary. This is important because medical offices may not be familiar with the unique on-duty injury procedures applicable to railroad workers. They typically assume that you are covered by workers’ compensation and attempt to bill for their services that way, resulting in confusion when it is denied. This can add a level of frustration for a worker who is already going through an incredibly difficult time due to their injuries.
An experienced FELA attorney can assist you by drafting a letter that you can present to your medical providers, explaining your status as a railroad worker and how your treatment will be paid for. This helps to avoid confusion and unnecessary delays in your treatment. If you are a railroad worker who has been injured on the job, contact us today to learn more. Our consultations are always free.