You already know working for the railroad is dangerous, but it’s more than your back and joints that are at risk. Sometimes it’s your job.
That was the case for Javier*, a young welder with just a couple years in. Last winter he was doing his job for Springfield Terminal Railway Co. when a set of rail rollers under tension dropped a piece of rail striking his knee and knocking him to the ground. He knew he was hurt so he reported it right away. It wasn’t an accident he caused (even his foreman admitted the welder hadn’t done anything wrong). Nonetheless, the railroad did what it always does: it issued an investigation letter under the discipline provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (aka the contract).
SCUBA, LASER and LCD are all acronyms. Acronyms are meant to help us reduce long, well known (but hard to manage) names like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to something memorable and simple, like HIPAA. (Oh yeah, that form I sign at the doctor...)
Are you facing a Defense Medical Examination?
Also known as a DME, it’s a physical exam conducted of you, the plaintiff and injured railroad worker, by a doctor of the railroad's choosing for the purpose of helping the railroad defend against your claim.
Topics: FAQs on the job injuries
You’ve heard me say that every case is unique, but there are some very common (and legitimate questions) that my office fields from clients and prospective clients every week. Railroad workers, some with FELA cases and others who are whistleblowers, have questions about forms, doctors, court appearances, and most of all, why it’s all taking so long.
“I slipped on ice on an unsalted walkway on my way into work. (The parking lot had been cleared, as had the sidewalks, but the walkway in the parking lot itself was not treated).
Under the FELA the railroad is required to provide a reasonably safe place to work, which includes providing reasonably safe tools and following reasonably safe procedures and methods for doing work.
Railroad work is dangerous: heavy machinery, chemical exposure, 150-ton speeding locomotives. Whether you’ve spent your career working on high voltage wires or maintaining signals or track area, you may have taken on more than your fair share of danger and injury, just shrugging it off as part of the job.
In actuality, it may be that it was the railroad itself that shrugged off your safety. Often workers are put in dangerous situations that they should be safe from, and very often when workers report those unsafe conditions they find themselves slapped with a letter of reprimand, told to keep quiet about an injury or worse.
Here are 10 examples of situations where a worker has a legit whistleblower claim against the railroad.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed the ARB decision, which protected a workers right to follow doctors's orders. This was one of the 13 ways of triggering the Whistleblower protections of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). You can download the decision here.
Bala vs PATH was the 2013 decision that prevented a carrier from disciplining an employee who was following doctors orders, regardless of whether the underlying condition was work related or not.
The reversal means that in those courts within the Third Circuit, only a doctor note pertaining to an on the job injury gives protection to the employee.
Concussion at home when something falls from the garage shelf, making you dizzy? Not excused.
Stomach bug has you throwing up? Not excused.
These absences can still be counted for purposes of attendance policies. This means that workers can be disciplined for absences when they follow a doctor's order not to return to work. This will have long term ramifications as well as immediate.
How long do I have to file my case? Am I too late to file a claim with OSHA? Does my initial charge letter and the denial of my appeal give me different filing dates?
Every week I get these questions from railroad workers looking to sue their carrier. So here are not only the answers, but also a calculator so you can figure it out for yourself.
First, your injury claim must be filed within three years of when you knew or should have known that you had a work-related injury. In most instances, that means the date you got hurt. But there are other times where the beginning date might get fuzzy.
ATTORNEY ADVERTISING - Prior results don’t guarantee a similar outcome in your claim. This website and blog are for informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice, since only after knowing the details of your claim can any advice be provided. Please understand that particular laws vary by state. You must speak directly with an attorney about your situation to determine what laws apply.