Railroaders fall under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA). FELA allows railroad employees the right to sue their employer in the event of an on-duty and/or on-property injury, and to recoup resulting losses and damages.

FELA is a fault-based law requiring the proof of the railroad's negligence to be successful. FELA is also "comparative", meaning if the railroad is only proved to be 20% negligent, the injured employee is entitled to only 20% of their suit.


Thus, it is imperative that our members be prepared for unfortunate events. The IBEW Designated Legal Counsel is available to our members at no charge for consultation. Play it safe and contact them; what appears to be a simple injury today can easily manifest into a tragedy.

What to do if you are injured on the railroad:

Contact an IBEW Designated Legal Counsel as soon as possible if you think the railroad could be responsible for your injury in any way! 

If you need medical assistance, demand to be taken to a hospital first!

  1. Fill out an accident/injury report and keep a copy.

    • DO NOT claim responsibility for the incident.

    • Note defective equipment or hazardous conditions on your report as well as whether the conduct of another person contributed to the incident.

    • List all eyewitnesses on the report and their phone numbers.

    • Take photos of the scene, if possible.

  2. S​ee your doctor.

    • See your doctor about any problems​ you have related to the incident. Do not get treatment from a railroad doctor.

    • DO NOT speak to any railroad official while at the hospital concerning your injury or circumstances surrounding the incident. You have the right to demand they exit the exam/treatment room.

    • Advise your doctor that this is not a workers' compensation claim and is covered under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).

  3. Do not give a statement to Claims Representatives.​

    • Do not give a written or recorded statement to a claims agent or sign anything before discussing the matter with an IBEW Designated Legal Counsel.​

  4. Keep detailed records of all lost wages and expenses, as well as conversations and dates.​

What to tell your Healthcare Provider:

Railroad employees are covered under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), not workers' compensation.


The patient has the right to choose his/her own provider. It is NOT necessary for the railroad to approve treatment. Medical bills for railroad workers are covered by plans which pay medical expenses for on-the-job injuries.


DO NOT send any records or reports to the railroad without first obtaining authorization from the patient (doctor/patient privilege is not waived). Any unauthorized disclosure to the railroad will violate HIPAA.

Additional Steps:


If you expect to be off from work for more than 4 consecutive days:

  1. Contact the Railroad Retirement Board at www.rrb.gov or 1-877-772-5772 for Sickness Benefits within 10 days.

    • Complete and submit Form SI-1a.​ Other forms may be needed.

    • The RRB will mail subsequent claim forms (Form SI-3). For continuation of benefits these must be completed and returned.

    • There is a 7-day waiting period during which no benefits are payable.

  2. Contact The Hartford at www.thehartford.com (an account will need to be created) or 1-800-205-7651 (prompt #2) for Supplemental Sickness Benefits within 60 days.

    • *Supplemental Sickness Benefits only apply to members covered under National Freight Railroad Bargaining.*

    • Approval of benefits by RRB is not required to file a claim with The Hartford.

    • Benefits will not be paid for the first 4 days of claim period.

    • Specific information on The Hartford, and all other insurance benefits, can be reviewed at www.yourtracktohealth.com

  3. Any absence should be reported to your railroad employer. Contact your manager and/or company Medical Dept. to let them know you will not be reporting to work (management does not need details, Medical Dept. will).

    • Most rail carriers require documentation to support an employee's medical absence​. (CSXT uses form COII for continued absences, and form MD-3 for returning to work after an illness or injury).

    • Failure to keep your railroad employer updated with documentation to support your absence for 15 days or more can result in forfeiture of your seniority.

Last Updated 6/9/2021