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Paying Medical Bills after an On-Duty Railroad Injury

How do I cover my expenses when I’m out of work?

Immediately after going to the doctor, file for your railroad retirement board sickness benefits.

As a railroad worker, you’re putting money into the railroad retirement board from every paycheck that you get. A lot of that is for retirement once you get your 20 or 30 years in. You can start drawing from that retirement plan with the railroad retirement board, but in addition to those benefits, you also are entitled to sickness benefits. It’s important to apply for those as soon as you see your doctor because it takes some time for those benefits to come in.

Filing for disability insurance

If you have disability insurance, file for it after you see your doctor. Your union has probably told you also that it’s important to have disability insurance. A lot of the unions talk to their members about getting disability insurance immediately once they start working. So if you have it, make a claim for those benefits so that you have both sickness benefit money coming in and also disability payment money coming in so you can pay your bills.

If you don’t have disability insurance, the sickness benefits only run for a certain amount of time, so again, it’s very important to talk to a lawyer that specializes in railroad law to help you figure out how you’re going to take care of your family and yourself while you’re recovering from your injury.

Watch out for advances from the railroad

Often times the railroad will offer injured workers advances, however, you will have to pay those advances back.

While this may seem tempting at the time while you’re worried about how you’re going to live, it’s better not to take advances from the railroad. First of all, oftentimes those advances come with the requirement that you don’t talk to a lawyer. They’ll say, and the claims agent will tell you, “Look, I’ll take care of you. Just don’t talk to a lawyer. I’ll give you advances and your full paycheck and work this out.”

Oftentimes that means that what they want you to settle your claim for much less than what it is worth. They use the advancements as a way to say that they took care of you and you should take care of them. It’s better to go through your disability policy and to go through your sickness benefits and talk to a lawyer that knows how these claims work so that you’re protected and get full compensation for your injuries.