Let's get right to the point, the FELA - Federal Employers' Liability Act has a three (3) year statute of limitations. That means, if you are injured at work, you have three (3) years from the date of the accident, or when you should have known of your injury, in which to file a lawsuit or settle your claim against your employer railroad. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time limit, you are forever barred from doing so.
Railroaders have called Hoey & Farina after dealing directly with the claims agents on their own for almost three (3) years. “The claim agent said he would extend the three year statute of limitations since we hadn't reached a settlement.” I was a railroader and railroad union officer for over 40 years, and I still can't believe railroaders fall for this line from the claim agent.
So here it is, perfectly clear, and please share this with your fellow railroaders:
THE RAILROAD CAN NOT EXTEND THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON A FEDERAL STATUTE!
I know it's hard to believe that the railroad would lie to you. Or, that it would look out for its own interests over an injured employee's. It is the hard truth! Under FELA, you must prove the railroad was negligent in causing your injury in order to recover financially.
You are not covered under workers' compensation. It's a whole different playing field. When you suffer a work injury, it's you against the railroad. The railroad will do whatever it can to defeat you. The best way it can do that is by controlling the injured employee, keeping the injured employee misinformed or uninformed – until it's too late.
I'm sure some of you reading this and thinking, “Well, ‘Joe' was injured last year and the railroad took real good care of him. The railroad gave him a huge settlement and he didn't need an railroad accident attorney. Joe's completely happy with the railroad. What the heck are you talking about?”
Here is what we're talking about. The railroad uses tactics to keep you misinformed and uninformed.
KEEP INJURED EMPLOYEES AWAY FROM LAWYERS
Everyone once in a while, especially if it can use this ploy with a railroad union officer, the railroad will offer a significant settlement directly to an injured employee. The railroad knows this employee will in turn tell everyone he works with how great the railroad is and that they don't need to talk to or hire a lawyer. The injured railroader should just work with the claim agent and settle directly with the railroad.
What the employees don't know is that this is a tactic to keep future injured employees under the railroad's control. Employees see an illusion at first, and the truth becomes clear only after they've been railroaded.
KEEP INJURED EMPLOYEE AWAY FROM LAWYERS
The railroad will harass an injured employee and make an example out of him. For instance, the railroad will persuade an injured employee not to file an accident report if the employee is ‘not feeling too bad.' A day or two later when the employee asks to fill out an accident report because he's hurting and needs to see a doctor, the railroad will charge the employee for “filing a late report” or “falsification of an injury report”.
The employee then has to endure a couple of years without a job / income while waiting for arbitration. If the employee wins at arbitration, the railroad will delay the employee going back to work as long as possible through drug testing, re-qualifying, etc. Or, the railroad will simply refuse to allow the employee to return to work. The employee will have to wait while attempting to get a court order enforcing the arbitration award against the railroad.
The result - everyone talks about what happened to ‘Joe.' Employees are afraid to report an injury, to talk with a personal injury lawyer, to take any steps to protect their rights, their future. No one wants to go through what ‘Joe' went through. Railroaders are reluctant to pursue their rights and then do nothing. Whether employees are misinformed or intimidated, the railroad wins.
People think of common sense as something everyone knows. Perhaps a better description would be - what everyone should know. For railroaders, common sense should be that railroads lie to protect their own interests. Information needs to get out to railroaders that they are covered under FELA and not workers' compensation. The word needs to get out to railroaders that there is a three (3) year statute of limitations on FELA cases.
Railroaders need to stand united. If you are injured at work, report it. If you are harassed at work, report it. If there are unsafe conditions or equipment at work, report it. Do it for your own benefit, for your family and for your fellow employees. You have rights and you have Hoey & Farina, designated legal counsel, to help you protect your rights.
If you suffer an on-duty injury, don't wait until it's too late.