EXERCISE THOSE RIGHTS!
(Part II of II)
In last week's article written about "Your Right to Choose and Recommend Designated Legal Counsel," we focused primarily on the right of your Union to have a Designated Legal Counsel program.
We also briefly addressed the rights of injured members to participate in the program and the U.S. Supreme Court's recognition of the need for injured railroad workers to utilize the competent attorneys designated by their Unions.
The U.S. Supreme Court did not merely protect the rights of injured rail employees to seek and utilize Designated Legal Counsel, but also granted special privileges to the Unions and its uninjured members to insure that the intent of Congress in enacting the FELA was fulfilled. The Court held that it was the right of the Unions to set a cap on the amount its designated attorneys could charge for their services so its injured members and their families could be protected from excessive fees. The Court also permitted the Union to furnish names of its injured members to its Designated Legal Counsel. In so doing the Court gave union members the right to inform an injured member of their Union about the Designated Legal Counsel program and the availability of Designated Legal Counsel, without fear of reprisal from the carrier. (The Court did not extend these protections to members recommending attorneys outside of the Union's Designated Legal Counsel program.) To further advance the Congressional intent of the Federal Employers' Liability Act, the Court found it lawful for Union representatives, assisting Designated Legal Counsel, to be "reimbursed for their actual time spent and out of pocket expenses involved in bringing injured members or their families to the offices of the legal counsel."
RIGHT TO MEANINGFUL ACCESS TO THE COURTS
The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the need to allow the Union and its members to assist those that were injured in asserting claims under the FELA. The Court realized that the right to meaningful access to the courts would "be a hollow promise if courts could deny associations of workers or others, the means of enabling their members to meet the costs of legal representation."
DON'T BECOME VICTIMS OF OVER SEALOUS CLAIM AGENTS
Through the efforts of your union, the Court gave you, as a member of a railroad Union, specific rights in assisting your fellow members. We at Hoey & Farina encourage you to use these hard-earned rights and engage in these protected activities. Inform your members about Designated Legal Counsel and assist them in securing Designated Legal Counsel so they do not become victims of over zealous claim agents and incompetent attorneys. We also urge you to tell us immediately when someone is injured so we may help that member or the member's family secure the benefits that Congress intended them to have under the FELA. It pays to utilize the FELA, and it costs you nothing whether you are the injured member or a member assisting the Designated Legal Counsel in representing a fellow member. Remember you can call Hoey & Farina 24 hours a day at 1-888-425-1212 to get the help you need or a fellow member may need.