There are few events more tragic than sustaining a serious injury that prevents you from earning a living. The physical pain of the injury is frequently compounded by the panic that sets in once you realize the injury prevents you from performing your normal job functions. To alleviate the issues associated with this scenario, there are a number of laws in place that protect those who are no longer capable of working. In the railway industry, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) provides compensation for railroad employees and their dependents injured through employer negligence, and the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) administers programs such as disability benefits.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals sometimes seek benefits to which they are not entitled. In most cases, this takes the form of fraudulent claims based on exaggerated or non-existent injuries. Lured in by the prospect of easy money or early retirement, fraudsters attempt to cheat their way onto easy street. In certain instances, these schemes involve physicians and healthcare workers who facilitate the fraud by documenting the phantom injuries.
In a glaring example of this type of fraud, board-certified orthopedist Dr. Peter J. Ajemian was recently convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in a massive fraud scheme involving hundreds of Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers. The scheme was constructed around the reports that Dr. Ajemian generated to justify early retirement and sizable annuities for his patients. In total, perpetrators collected about $2 million monthly, with some some recipients receiving $3,000 to $4,000 each month. Needless to say, those convicted in the fraud have lost their benefits.
Despite the coverage devoted to high profile fraud cases such as the LIRR fiasco, most FELA and RBB claims are filed legitimately by railway workers with bona fide injuries. In many instances, the claims of such workers are unjustifiably met with suspicion and hostility. This should not be tolerated, since injured workers have a right to compensation under the law.
Injured railway workers seeking compensation should seek the advice of qualified personal injury lawyers with specific expertise in FELA claims.