Railroad Off-Track Van and Ride-Sharing Accidents
It is a far too common occurrence that vehicular accidents occur on the road while railroad employees are being transported between terminals, dead-heading home or simply being moved from the yard to lodging. Very often, the van companies that railroads hire to perform such service don’t properly maintain their vehicles, hire unskilled and inadequate drivers and/or do not provide proper training. Second, it is equally likely that a third-party driver on the road due to simple driving errors, fatigue or even intoxication can cause a serious incident on the road.
It is critical for you to understand your rights and protect yourself legally and financially in the event you are involved in a van accident.
Before You Hit The Road
It is good practice to look at your own automobile coverage on your personal vehicles. In the event the van you are riding is struck by a third-party, it is possible there is NO liability on the part of the van company or railroad thus leaving you with a potential sole remedy against only the other driver involved. In this scenario, too often employees learn that the at-fault driver has limited or no insurance at all to compensate you for your injuries. If this occurs, it is possible that you may be able to make a claim under your own insurance under your Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM/UM) on your own personal vehicle. Maintaining sufficient coverage on your own policy is essential to protecting yourself if this unfortunate situation should occur.
If An Accident Occurs
Like all railroad cases, fault is key to determining who is responsible for your injuries. In the event you are in a van crash and the van driver is at fault, make sure a police report is filed and you also file a personal injury report with your railroad employer just as you would in any other on-duty injury. Similarly, be sure to detail the negligence that led to the incident and which driver was at fault. If the at-fault party is the third-party driver (not the van driver) you must also include that in your reporting for his/her insurance company so they can properly process and pay your claim. Lastly, collect the names of any witnesses like the crew members and others involved in the incident who later may be needed to testify to discuss the facts of the crash as well as corroborate any injuries sustained by you.
Consult With Our Office
We at Dunn Harrington have substantial experience handling railroad van transportation cases. You need assistance from an attorney with experience dealing with BOTH railroad injuries as well as garden variety automobile crashes as this is where FELA and common law injury claims intersect.
Off-Track Vehicle Benefits
In addition to short-term disability benefits provided through the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and/or any individual policies obtained personally or through your union, an often unknown or overlooked benefit available to railroad employees involved in van cases is a collectively bargained for benefit known as “off track vehicle benefits.”
Pursuant to your collective bargaining agreement between your union and your railroad employer, the railroad is required to pay you a weekly benefit for a certain period of time in the event you are injured in an “off track vehicle.” These policies apply directly to injuries sustained while being transported in a van by companies such as PTI, Renzenberger, Hallcon, etc. This benefit can provide up to $1,000.00 per week for 156 weeks of disability. Application for these benefits vary by each railroad but generally can be made through the railroad’s claims department. As with any monetary payout, many claim agents are reluctant to process such a claim and/or don’t even know it exists.
Please call our office at 855-500-FELA or contact us online with any needs relates to processing of such a claim.