Some industries, like railroad work, yield more injuries than others. Railroad workers are essential to help people and goods move all across the country, but with dangerous work sometimes comes injuries.
If you are a railroad employee who has suffered an injury at work, then you need to take care when filling out your railroad accident report. These seemingly simple documents can make or break your FELA claim.
Take these tips from our Houston railroad injury attorneys at Roven Camp. We are an experienced team that can help you with the fine lines of your Texas railroad accident report.
When Should I Fill Out My Railroad Accident Report?
Timing is actually one of the most important factors when it comes to filling out a railroad accident report.
Help yourself by making sure to take your time.
Railroad companies are known to rush injured railroad workers and their families, then use the rushed paperwork and testimonies against them. Many railroads will try to force an employee to complete an injury report as soon as the employee is released from the emergency room and while on heavy pain medication.
If you are on medication that affects your ability to think clearly, you should postpone completing this report until you are no longer experiencing the effects of that medication.
Make sure you take time to gather your bearings after the accident. Before completing the report, you should consult with a medical provider, your union representative, and an experienced FELA lawyer like our team at Roven Camp.
Only after you have collected yourself and sought advice should you complete the railroad accident report.
What Types of Questions Might Be on a Railroad Accident Report Form?
Disclaimer: Every railroad uses a different form for railroad accident reports, but the questions listed below include the type of information you will likely need for your report.
- What was the cause of the accident?
- Where did this accident take place?
- What was train or railcar identifying number?
- Describe the type of injury?
- What type of railway operation was involved in the accident?
- What type of rolling stock operation was involved in the accident?
- Did any equipment tools, conditions, or another person contribute to the accident?
- Were there any defects in the equipment?
- Could YOU have prevented your injury?
- Was the incident caused by another person?
Leave yourself room to have a more detailed answer if you’re unsure about something. Don’t answer with specifics if you are not 100% sure. If you’re not sure of the answer to any of these questions, you can say, “I’m not sure at this time, still investigating.”
It’s also vitally important to give yourself time to think about the accident before you start working on the report.
Fault-Based FELA Claims in Texas
In Texas, and the rest of the United States, FELA operates on a fault-based system. To receive benefits and compensation under FELA, an injured railroad worker must prove their injury was caused at least in part due to negligence of the railroad itself, or one of its agents or contractors.
FELA follows a “comparative negligence” policy. Each party only has to pay a percentage of the benefits that equals the percentage of fault they take in the accident.
For example, if your case goes to trial, the jury may award a certain amount while still finding you partially at fault for your injuries. If you are found 30% at fault, and the railroad is found to be 70% at fault, but the verdict is $1,000,000, then you will receive $700,000, or 70% of the damages (the portion of fault by the railroad company).
In cases where other third parties are involved, like contractors or customers, if the combined percentage of fault on all defendants is 70% (including at least 1% on the railroad), you can still collect $700,000 from the railroad and it becomes the railroad’s responsibility to seek indemnity or reimbursement from the other defendants.
This is another reason the details are so important when filling out a railroad accident report. As an injured worker, you want to make your case for the negligence of the railroad company, or its agents, as clear as possible.
What to Include in a Railroad Injury Report
The railroad injury report is actually quite short and simple.
However, as mentioned before, injured workers must take care because railroad companies will use whatever they can against you to avoid paying FELA benefits.
- On the accident report, you need to describe all the unsafe conditions you were forced by the employer to work under. The report will ask you to describe what specifically caused the accident.
- DON’T say that you slipped and fell.
- DO say that the workplace had a hazardous puddle of water that you slipped on.
This is just one example of a potential workplace injury and how you should describe it to prove the role of employer negligence in your injury. There are many possible injuries, and you should always honestly frame the employer’s true role in your injury in order to maximize your benefits.
- At this early stage of an injury, it is usually best to keep the descriptions general. If you try to provide too much detail, which later turns out to be inaccurate, it could impact your claims later if or when you are deposed by the railroad defense lawyer, who will attempt to make you look dishonest. While the railroad will likely have already performed an investigation into the incident, your investigation may not truly begin until you have consulted with an experienced FELA attorney.
- Lastly, you can include photos and witness accounts with your report. The railroad will argue against facts in your report, so photos and witness testimonies can support your case.
Contact Houston FELA Lawyers Roven Camp Today
The railroad accident report is one of the most crucial steps to winning your FELA case after a railroad injury. With care, diligence, and honesty, you can use a good report to win the compensation you deserve.
It’s also important to have a trusted and respected lawyer on your side. Our team at Roven Camp has years of experience in the railroad industry and winning FELA cases. Contact us today for your consultation, and we will work with you to win the highest benefits possible.