How to Fill Out a Railroad Accident Report
Proving the Railroad Negligent is the Key to Winning Your FELA / Railroad Injury Case.by Bristol Baxley
Negligence is the most hotly contested issue in an FELA case. Once an injury occurs, the railroad’s legal team quietly sets out to prove that the railroad was not negligent and/or that you negligently caused your own injury.
Why? Because the railroad only has to pay your FELA claim if the railroad was negligent. And even if the railroad is negligent, its liability for damages is reduced by the percentage of contributory negligence that they can pin on the injured worker. In fact, here is how the question usually looks on a jury form in an FELA case:
How to fill out an injury report to prove the railroad negligent:
To protect your case, you should write down all unsafe conditions you were forced to work with. Some common unsafe conditions are defective handholds, trackside vegetation, bad footing or bad lighting.
Here are some good and bad examples of accident reports from actual cases:
FRA Defects and Negligence Per Se:If the railroad is found to be have been in violation of certain FRA rules this can preclude them from arguing that they were not negligent. This concept is called negligence per se.
Please note: When filling out your accident report, it is important to be accurate, thorough and honest.
It can be difficult to think clearly right after an injury. Use the term ‘etc.’ when describing injured body parts or unsafe conditions on your incident report, in case more information or injuries come to light later.
Keep in mind that just writing it down doesn’t necessarily prove the case. As mentioned in our last email, photos and witnesses are important as well. The railroad legal team will still argue against what you write down. But if you don’t write it down in the first place, the railroad will take advantage of that.
Understand that many FELA cases have been won even though the railroad argued that the injured worker was at fault for their own injury. A good FELA lawyer will know the best way to help argue against any claim that you negligently caused your own injury. Filling out your accident report correctly as described in the first few paragraphs above is the key to winning your FELA case.