The first step in protecting your interests begins when you fill out the initial work injury report that is given to you by your railroad supervisor.
There are previous Straight Track articles that can assist you on how to properly fill out a work injury report. (See Straight Track - Completing The Personal Injury Report - The Right Way) You should read them.
I have written this article to emphasize that it may not matter how well you've completed your injury report or how well you've documented the railroad's negligence, the railroad can still claim that the injury never occurred. How? Because the supervisor who filled out the report never actually filed it.
The "misplacing" of personal injury reports by the railroad not only discredits your claim, but puts the burden on you to produce a report. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! Do yourself a favor and request a copy of everything that you sign when dealing with your supervisor or the railroad's claim agent.
In the past month I've spoken with three injured railroaders experiencing this exact problem. All three railroaders suffered an on-the-job injury in separate accidents. Each railroader required medical treatment and lost wages from work. Based on their statements to me, the railroaders did an excellent job reporting their work injuries in that they stated exactly what caused their accidents and what their injuries were. What each failed to do, however, was to obtain a copy of the signed personal injury report. Now the railroads are claiming these accidents never occurred.
NOT HAVING A COPY OF THE INJURY REPORT COULD COST YOU
Whether you want to believe it or not, it is all about the money! You are just a dollar figure to the claim agent and the smaller the figure the better. So, if your story can be discredited in any way, the railroad may do it.
That's why it is to your benefit to have a copy of the report so that the injury and conditions that caused the injury are not forgotten. Remember too, it is your right to receive a copy of the report that you signed – not withstanding what the railroad may assert.
An injury report is also an excellent guide for the injured railroader when being asked to make a statement at a later date. It keeps the facts consistent and your creditability in tact.
Being without a copy of your injury report, however, does not bar you from recovery from your injury. It may make matters difficult, but there still is hope. The information needed to successfully litigate your claim might be obtained through the discovery process. That is why it is so important to contact the FELA lawyers of Hoey & Farina at 1-888-425-1212 and allow us to assist you in protecting your interests.
In closing, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Ray Keane. Although I am a new member of Hoey & Farina, I am not new to the firm or to the railroad industry. In 1979, when I was 18 years old, I began working for the Illinois Central Railroad as a Switchman / Brakeman.
Because I was furloughed during the mid 1980's, I transferred to the Engineering Department and worked as a D.C. Department Welder and as an Electrician. In 1995, I returned to train service as a Conductor and then trained as a Locomotive Engineer.
I was introduced to Hoey & Farina when I suffered a work injury and retained them to represent me in my FELA claim against the railroad. I had graduated with a bachelor's degree from Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, and after being injured, I returned to school and earned my Juris Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. That was made possible in large part to the money which I received in settlement of my claim through the efforts of Hoey & Farina. In February 2005, I will be sitting for the Illinois Exam. I've been through what you will go through if injured on the job.