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Railroad FELA Defense Tactics

Railroad FELA Defense Tactics

Soon after an injury is reported railroads routinely use the following tactics in order to prepare their defense with the goal of minimizing or even negating the injured employee’s potential financial recovery under the FELA.

Railroad Claim Agents/Recorded Statements

The railroad claims department has one primary objective when an employee is injured – to save the railroad money. The railroad claims agent may represent that he/she is your friend and will take care of you during this difficult time following an injury. However, never lose sight of the fact that railroad claims agents want to obtain information to use against the injured employee to minimize financial recovery under the FELA. The claims agent will usually request a recorded statement and is trained to ask questions that will benefit the railroad’s FELA defense.  Any statement given will be used by the railroad in defending the FELA claim. Thus, it is strongly recommended that no statement be voluntarily given to the railroad claims agent.

Video Surveillance

Railroads are regularly conducting video surveillance on their injured employees in an effort to “catch” the employees physically doing something that is “inconsistent” with the reported injuries and resulting physical limitations. Video surveillance can occur from outside the employee’s home, while traveling to/from medical appointments, or while engaged in normal activities of daily living such as shopping for groceries.

Conflicting Statements

Once an injury occurs railroads will attempt to obtain as much information as possible to use in their defense of the FELA claim. In addition to requesting a recorded statement, it is common practice as part of the investigative process for railroad claims agents to obtain the injured employee’s medical records, take photographs and perform a reenactment, and interview co-employees and supervisors with knowledge of the incident. Armed with all of this information, the railroad will try to establish conflicting information to be used against the employee.

Disciplinary Investigations

When an employee is injured and does not timely file a personal injury report, railroads will frequently hold investigations to question the employee as to why the injury report was not “immediately” filed, and will use this opportunity to aggressively question the injured employee concerning his/her injuries and his/her alleged fault in the incident. Railroads have asserted that an employee was injured off property when a personal injury report was filed late and have charged employees with falsifying an injury. It is very important to seek legal advice before a railroad disciplinary investigation because testimony provided will be used by the railroad against the injured employee in defending the FELA claim.

Medical Treatment

Timely medical treatment and an accurate history given to all medical providers detailing how the injury happened is critical to establish the medical connection between the incident and resulting injury. Railroads are skeptical of claims that do not require immediate medical care, and there are times when railroad officials will attempt to prevent or delay medical treatment so as not to make the injury reportable to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  Even if symptoms are not significant immediately following an incident, many times the symptoms will gradually worsen as the days continue to the point where extensive treatment is needed and the employee is required to miss work. A failure to seek medical treatment within days after the injury incident may be very damaging to the successful pursuit of a FELA claim.

Great Lawyer!

Jeff Chod was my lawyer in a suit against MRL in Missoula Montana.He
distinguished himself in a very professional manner. His hard work,
extensive knowledge and attention to detail enabled me to get a
satisfactorysettlement. He was easily accessible and quickly attended to all my
questions and worries. I highly recommend Jeff to anyone due to his work
ethic and willingness to go that extra mile to insure his client gets the best
possible results.

~ Brian, Victor, MT
Changed my life

I met Mr. Chod in 2007. It was the best decision I have ever made to
hire him. I was injured and scared, and he did not know me, but gave
me confidence, told me to focus on getting better and he would take
care of the rest. Amazingly he did and I made also a friend for life.

~ Tony, Amelia, OH
My experience was outstanding

As a former MOW employee for Wisconsin Central Railroad in need of an
injury attorney, it has been my experience that good FELA attorneys are hard
to find. After having to fire my first attorney due to a very frustrating
experience, I found attorney Chod and from that point on, my experience
was nothing short of outstanding. Jeff treated me personally with
compassion as if I were his only client and understood completely
the seriousness of my injury. He fought a very long and
tough battle against a team of very high powered attorneys
with due diligence...

~ Todd, Wausau, WI
Railroad Incident

I hired Mr. Chod after I had an incident at a mine here in
Wyoming when I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad
and he did an excellent job of settling my case. Mr. Chod
worked well with myself and the doctors he talked to and
other railroad employees.

~ Connie, Douglas, WY
When you need a winner, he is your guy...

In September of 2014 I suffered a career ending injury at BNSF Railway. The RR choose to not do the right thing even though I continued to have faith in them. I talked to Jeff on a recommendation of a friend after many broken promises by BNSF. I had only done one thing wrong that night, and that was trusting BNSF to accurately train, and prepare a operator to safely work along side me. I talked with Jeff and he helped ease my mind and finally realize that the RR was not conducting themselves in my best interest or livelihood. My injuries physically were were permanent and the PTSD was overwhelming and learning to deal with it was life altering. Jeff worked tirelessly for me and my future well-being. He fought them like David and Goliath and we won.

~ Lisa, Memphis, TN
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