7 Vital Tips for an Injured Railroad Workerby Bristol Baxley
Railroad work is still one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Even the safest worker may suffer an injury through no fault of their own.
The railroad's legal team includes claim agents, lawyers, managers, company nurses and company doctors. They spring into action immediately following an injury. This highly organized team of experts has one goal: to minimize the financial liability for their company or in other words reduce the value of your claim. Many of them have attended claims seminars specifically to learn this skill.
Here are 7 Vital Tips for any railroad worker to help level the playing field in case of injury.
1. Get medical treatment immediately.
If the railroad tries to delay your medical treatment then call an ambulance if necessary. After getting immediate medical care, follow up with your own doctor to discuss all injuries.
It's important to seek medical attention quickly, both for your health and also to immediately document the cause and scope of your injuries following your accident. It is illegal for the railroad to interfere with your medical treatment.
DO NOT go to the company doctor more than once. These doctors work for the railroad and work hand in hand with the railroad legal team assigned to your case to reduce the value of your claim. If you do find yourself at the company doctor, be honest and cooperative but remember to mention any unsafe conditions that caused your injury and remember that any pre-existing conditions did not previously keep you from doing your job. Afterwards, always follow up with your own doctor.
In many cases, the injured employee does not immediately realize the extent of their injury. This is not un-common and can be an explained during the course of your case if necessary. However, getting treatment as soon as you realize you are hurt is the best thing for your health and your claim.
2. Complete an injury report as soon as possible. Save a copy for yourself.
You are required to fill out an injury report immediately after an injury. Not only is it required by rule, but filling out an accident report immediately, prevents the railroad legal department from successfully arguing you were hurt at home or elsewhere, rather than at work. Leaving the premises before you fill out your accident report, unless you are doing so in an ambulance, gives them a better chance to make this argument in a court of law or during a claim settlement conference.
3. List any unsafe conditions on the accident report.
To protect your case, you should write down any unsafe conditions you were forced to work in that may have contributed to your injury even in the slightest. Some common unsafe conditions are defective handholds, trackside vegetation, bad footing or bad lighting. There are many unsafe conditions that are so common to railroad employees that they often forget to mention them on their accident report.
Handling this correctly is VITALLY IMPORTANT! We will focus on it specifically in the next email.
4. Get photos of unsafe conditions.
In accordance with company rules, use your cell phone or other camera to get pictures of the accident site before the scene is changed.
It is very important to make sure you have evidence of the scene at the time of your injury. In many cases, the railroad will go out immediately after an injury and "fix" the problem. Then the railroad legal department argues the conditions were safe at the time of your injury.
5. Get contact information for any witnesses.
Any witnesses are extremely important to your case. Do your best to obtain all information for any person who may have witnessed your injury. Getting vital information such as name, address and phone number will allow you or your attorney's office to get in contact if they move away, quit, or bid onto other jobs.
6. Write down the number of all equipment involved in your injury.
Make sure to list all equipment on your injury report. This information is very important to your case as the equipment you list will be inspected for any defects. Also, save all paper work associated with your job. For example: save track bulletins, track warrants, switch lists, etc. Any documents relating to your injury could be important in proving the railroad's negligence in your case.
7. Consult with an FELA Lawyer.
As mentioned above - the railroad's legal team springs into action immediately following an injury with one goal: to reduce the value of your claim. Even so, many injured railroad workers are hesitant at first to 'lawyer up.'
Hiring an experienced FELA lawfirm means you have someone on your side. It means you have your own team of experts. Having your own counsel, evens the playing field, so that you can worry about getting better and taking care of yourself and your family.