Keep a Record
The railroads often try to avoid their obligations to injured employees. It is, therefore, important that the injured worker be in a position to get and keep proper information. This information should show if and how the accident was caused, in whole or in part, by the negligence or fault of the railroad, or by other employees of the railroad, or by unsafe working conditions. The worker must also be in a position to prove the nature and extent of his/her injury and loss.
The largest money claims are won from the railroads when the claims are actually taken to court. It is, therefore, important that the injured employee get as much information and evidence as possible. The injured worker must be able to prove the cause of the accident and the nature and extent of the injuries, in case a court trial is necessary. An injured employee should therefore get the names of witnesses who have knowledge of the accident or cause of the accident. Injured workers should remember and jot down the exact time and place of the accident.
When a railroad worker takes his/her claim to court, he/she has only to show that the injury was caused in part by the negligence of the railroad or its employees. Even if the injured railroader was at fault to some extent, it does not defeat the claim entirely. Injured workers can still win the case if they can show that the railroad, or any of its employees, or its equipment, or working conditions were, in part, responsible. The negligence of the worker, where it exists, can only be used by the railroad to reduce the amount of money the injured railroad worker will win. Even then the reduction is made only to the extent that the injured worker's negligence was partly responsible. In certain types of cases the negligence of the injured worker is no defense to the railroad at all, and workers may collect in full anyway.
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Heartland Lodge 6760, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, August 16, 1996
Revised August 29, 2012