Working for the railroad may mean having a career that spans a lifetime.  Often times, the drive to work for a railroad is passed down through the generations from parent to child.  Although the railroad provides many Americans the opportunity to earn a good wage, railroad work is one of the most dangerous lines of work in the United States and serious injuries do happen.

Recently, the attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP secured a $1.1 million dollar settlement for an injured railroad worker.

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Here’s what you should do if you are injured while working for the railroad:

  1. Get Medical Treatment Right Away

You know your body and you know when something is not right.  If you get hurt—report your injury and get treatment.  Don’t let the railroad talk you out of seeing a doctor.  Don’t let them tell you that you should give it a day or two before you go see a doctor.  If they won’t take you to a doctor or call you an ambulance, call an ambulance to your worksite yourself.

In all likelihood, the railroad will send you to one of their company doctors.  The railroad’s company doctors work hand in hand with the railroad’s legal team.  Always keep in mind, the railroad’s legal team is there to reduce their exposure to a lawsuit; they are not your friends and are not there to provide you with the treatment and care you need to get healthy.

When you see the doctor, be sure to tell them everything that hurts.  Tell them how you were injured.  DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF.  Lots of safe, careful employees get hurt through no fault of their own.  After your initial visit with the company doctor, go see your personal care provider and stop seeing the company doctor.  Get a personal care physician if you don’t have one.

  1. Complete an Injury Report ASAP

Unless you leave work in an ambulance, complete an incident report immediately.  This prevents the railroad company from arguing later that you weren’t injured on the job.  List all the unsafe conditions that may have caused or contributed to your injury, such as:

  • Bad footing
  • Bad lighting
  • Improper equipment
  • Improper or lack of safety equipment
  • Managers rushing the work
  • Poor maintenance practices
  • Poor safety policies
  • Trackside vegetation
  • Inadequate training

Again, do not blame yourself.

Be sure to list any equipment that may have caused or contributed to your injury in your incident report (be sure to include any information that would help identify the equipment months and years later, e.g. identification numbers).

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  1. Take Photos of any Unsafe Conditions

Nowadays, if you have a phone, you have a camera.  Use it to take photos of any unsafe working conditions before the railroad company has the opportunity to fix the problem!

  1. Take Photos of Things That Could Be Destroyed or Erased

Some railroad companies give employees directions by writing things down on a dry erase board or by posting bulletins to a bulletin board.  In doing this, vital information can be lost because the railroad did not have a policy in place to retain such information.  So, take photos!

  1. Save Paperwork

Save all paperwork, logbooks, safety books, track bulletins, switch lists, and etc.  Any documents relating to your injury could be important to proving the railroad’s negligence.

  1. Get the Contact Information for Any Witnesses to Your Injury

If you’ve ever seen the movie Training Day, you may remember Denzel Washington’s line, “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.”

A proof is important in any case, but it is especially important in a Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) case.  It is crucial that you get the contact information (name, number, and address) for anyone who was a witness to your injury because a witness could be fired, quit, or move.

  1. Know the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and FELA

Railroad companies often improperly invade the physician-patient privilege.  Usually, the privilege can be waived to some extent when a railroad worker brings a claim against the railroad, that does not give the railroad the right to direct or control the treatment you receive from your doctors.  The railroad will usually be able to obtain copies of your medical records related to an injury suffered on the job, but the railroad does not have the right to interfere or manipulate your treatment.

Usually, railroad worker’s have their treatment manipulated when the railroad company’s “medical managers” call the doctor’s office and says they need to speak with the nurse or doctor to process your medical bills.  During these conversations, the “medical managers” will make attempts to manipulate your treatment.  To protect yourself from this practice, know the difference between the workers’ compensation and FELA laws (or contact the attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP).  Don’t expect that your doctor knows the difference.

  1. Contact a FELA Attorney at Morrow & Sheppard LLP

The railroad’s legal team springs into action as soon as you are injured.  You should do the same to protect your interests.  The attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP want to spring into action for you.

If you have been injured by the railroad or while working for the railroad, please contact the experienced FELA attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP.  Call us at 1-800-489-2216 for a free and confidential case evaluation.