When a railroad worker gets injured on the job, the railroad company’s legal team will quietly set out to prove that they are not at fault for your injury. The railroad’s team consists of claim agents, lawyers, managers and company nurses and doctors who share the goal of minimizing the financial liability for their company—even if it means reducing the value of your claim. The railroad will put it’s claim agent to work immediately after your injury has occurred.
A railroad is only liable to pay for damages if their negligence caused your injuries. The actions you take following a railroad workplace injury will either help the success of your case or diminish the value of your claim quickly.
Eight steps to take after a railroad workplace injury
- Speak up. Verbally and loudly report your injury to your supervisor to ensure everyone around you including your supervisor hears you.
- Seek medical treatment. No matter how minor your injury may seem, get checked out by a medical professional. Remember that the company doctors work hand in hand with the railroad so if they initially evaluate your injuries, be certain you mention any unsafe conditions that caused your injuries while being cooperative. After you have received immediate medical care, it is a good idea to follow up with your own doctor. You will want to explain exactly how you sustained your injuries in the workplace.
- When it comes to your medical treatment, you are the one who gets to decide where and by who you will be seen. It is illegal for the railroad to stop or delay you from getting medical attention.
- Make a report. Complete a detailed, written accident report form as soon as possible after the injury and make a copy for yourself. It is critical that you list any defective tools and equipment, dangerous working conditions, unsafe work practices, management or co-worker error or anything else that may have caused your injury. Many times railroad employees forget to mention unsafe conditions in the injury report because the conditions are so common, but it is vitally important for your case that these conditions get documented. Keep in mind, this report will be referenced later in your claim or lawsuit so be truthful.
- Take photographs and/or video. Take pictures that show how significant your injury is. If you take a video, do not narrate what happened because your statements may be used against you later. Instead, take a video without audio showing the extent of the injury.
- Were there any witnesses? Ask your co-workers if they saw the injury happen. Are any of your co-workers aware of another worker previously reporting the same dangerous condition that injured you? Having a witness will be an important factor in your case so be sure to gather all witness names, phone numbers and addresses in case they are no longer employed by the railroad when your attorney tries to reach them.
- Stay off of social media. No matter the social platform, do not post anything related to your injury or the railroad including pictures. The railroad will try to use your posts against you.
- Do not give a recorded statement. You may receive frequent calls from the railroad’s claim agent trying to gain your trust. The agent will ask you to give a recorded oral statement about your injury. You are not required to do so; the railroad is looking for ammo to use against you. Remember that the claim agent is attempting to protect company assets and their goal is to settle your case for far less than what you deserve for your injury.
- Consult with an experienced FELA Attorney. The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) is a complex federal statute that you should not try to navigate on your own. Unlike worker’s compensation, an injured railroad worker can only recover if the railroad’s negligence is responsible for the injury. Only lawyers who have FELA experience will have the knowledge and resources to help you prove the railroad is responsible for the injury.
Key points in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 225
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) enacted regulations in 1997 to protect injured railroad workers from harassment and intimidation from the railroad supervisors and employers. Railroad workers can now feel secure in knowing the railroad cannot retaliate if they report an injury.
Under the Code of Federal Regulations, it is a violation of Federal Law 49 U.S.C. 20109 (a)(4)for a railroad to: “discharge, discriminate, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any way discriminate, in whole or in part, against an employee that notifies or attempts to notify the railroad of a work-related personal injury or illness.” Railroad workers have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if the railroad violates any of these rights.
- The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 225 also states the following:
- The railroad may not harass or intimidate an employee in a manner designed to discourage or prevent such employee from receiving proper medical treatment or from reporting an accident, incident or injury.
- The railroad may not refuse to furnish the injured worker with an injury report form.
- The railroad may not tell an injured employee that he will be disciplined or investigated if an injury report is filed.
- The railroad may not discipline an employee if the railroad interfered with the employee’s ability to make prompt report of the injury.
How an Experienced FELA Attorney can help
Remember, all railroad injuries are unique. Depending on the situation, we may be able to help you with the following:
Ensuring you understand your rights regarding medical treatment and the freedom to choose your doctor. It is common for railroad companies to push doctors on you that are on the company’s payroll. These doctors are often loyal to the railroad and may not have your best interests in mind.
- Gather evidence including witness statements and medical records to hold the railroad accountable for causing your injuries.
- Pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve for your losses including medical expenses, pain, suffering, lost wages and more.
If you have been injured on the job while working on a railroad, don’t wait another moment before contacting an experienced FELA attorney.
This blog post was submitted by The Carlson Law Firm. Let us protect your rights and navigate the complexities of a FELA claim while you focus on recovering from your injuries. We have a team of attorneys, on-staff nurses and private investigators ready to gather the evidence needed to hold the party that caused your injuries accountable. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.