Your family member has received a call from the railroad saying that you have been seriously injured at work and admitted to the hospital and that they should get there ASAP. If you've already had a family meeting regarding this, despite being suddenly faced with an enormous amount of stress, they'll know exactly what to do:
Contact one of your union officers and ask him to meet them at the hospital or give them a ride to the hospital.
- Grab your Hoey & Farina magnet off the refrigerator and call one of our attorneys or investigators to meet them at the hospital, too.
WHY EARLY CONTACT IS SO IMPORTANT
Usually when the railroad calls a family member of an injured railroad worker, the railroad doesn't give a lot of details. Your family member won't know how seriously you are hurt. They might think there's plenty of time to contact an attorney later. That's not so. Your family member needs to understand why calling your union official and Hoey & Farina right away is so important.
A GOOD DEFENSE WINS
When you sit down and talk with your family member, explain that minutes after you're hurt, the railroad will begin to defend itself against any claim you might bring. The railroad will send several officials to the hospital to talk with you right away. The railroad knows you will not be concentrating on the facts of the injury and that the sedatives you are receiving will further effect what you say. They hope you might say something that will help defeat your FELA claim; that you might leave out something that is legally significant.
Your family member should know ahead of time that the railroad will offer words of comfort and reassurance that everything is being done for you and that you will get the best possible care. Though probably true, the railroad actually says these things to gain your family member's trust and get permission to talk with you.
Your family member should know that you do not want to talk with the railroad officials, yet. And, your family member has the right to politely tell the railroad officials “no” and insist they talk to you later. By having your union officer and us there at the hospital, your family member will have the support they need to prevent you from being intruded on by the railroad and giving any statement until you are sedative free and can concentrate on what you are saying.
Also by having us there at the hospital right away, we can work with your union officer to find out exactly how the injury occurred and if the circumstances of the injury require that evidence be preserved. As the railroad is in possession of the accident site and all of the equipment involved, including event recorders, that may require prompt legal action. If our initial understanding of how you got injured at work, leads us to the belief that an immediate inspection of the premises, machinery, rolling stock, etc. will aid us in representing you, we will ask your family member to sign a contract of representation with our law firm. Doing so will allow us to immediately file suit and obtain a Court Order to come onto the railroad property, to take pictures, inspect the equipment, (usually with an expert in whatever field of knowledge is appropriate under the circumstances), have access to the download of the event recorders as well as anything else that the railroad can move or change. The speed in which all of this is done can be vital to the successful investigation of your work injury and the eventual recovery of money damages for you and your family.
You should also tell your family with regards to the contract of representation, our legal fee is only 25%, plus certain court and litigation costs, and this meets with your approval and it is o.k. to sign the contract.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR FAMILY
Believe it or not, these two articles really are a short overview of the answer to the original question – What Do I Tell My Family. The long and the short of it is, you're better off planning for the worst and hoping it never happens. By being prepared, if something were to happen to you, your family could concentrate on your care and not worry about being railroaded.
We suggest you and your family also read our other, more comprehensive Straight Track articles on the FELA, disability insurance, Railroad Retirement Sickness Benefits, Durable Powers of Attorney, the necessity of preserving evidence and retaining Hoey & Farina quickly. All Straight Track articles are available on our web site.
Hoey & Farina also offers a free Family Members Seminar where we fully explain, with case examples, what you and your family members need to know and do. If you are interested in scheduling a Family Members Seminar in your area, please contact us or have your union officer contact us at 1-888-425-1212.