As experienced railroad injury lawyers, railroad worker clients sometimes call us, or talk to our law firm investigators, and think that they might want to wait several months before deciding on hiring a railroad injury lawyer. While a short delay may not make a difference, but more times than not it will make a big difference and sometimes the delay can kill your railroad injury case. Here is why:
1. Private investigators and surveillance: the railroads are notorious for either hiring private investigators or using their own special police to spy on railroad workers who have been injured. Do not be surprised: this occurs routinely. The point really is not whether you are hurt, the point is that the railroad is hoping to see you doing any physical activities that they could later argue were inconsistent with someone who had injuries like yours. The idea for the railroad is to create unfair photos or videos of your activities.
2. Manipulating your medical care: what many potential clients don't realize is that they have usually given a medical records release to the railroad if they have talked to the railroad claim agent/adjuster very soon after their injury or accident. This seems to be fairly innocent, but many times the railroad will manipulate your medical care by calling and contacting your doctor or your physical therapist-acting through a nurse assigned to your case. The railroad may verbally talk to the therapist or doctor and influence a decision to get you back to work even if you are still physically and medically unable to do your job. Many times our clients have no idea that these phone call contacts have taken place behind their back. They assume that the records release is just so that the railroad medical department can get the records at the appropriate time but what can happen relating to your medical care goes way beyond that. When we notify a railroad that we are acting as your lawyer, we stop the railroad from calling or writing your doctors-we will provide the railroad your medical records-in writing-on appropriate request.
3. Disappearing/destroyed evidence: a railroad injury lawyer will write a letter notifying the railroad of legal representation. The letter we write will normally demand that the railroad preserve any and all evidence, photographs, statements, tape recordings, event recorder records and similar. We have many cases where the railroad and its lawyers have argued in court that they innocently did not retain items that were real evidence-they will assert that this was just routine destruction as “they can’t keep everything.” . If a letter has not been written demanding retention of all such materials, judges are hesitant to sanction or penalize the railroad later. So many times the railroads only produce a few pictures and mysteriously the main pictures have disappeared and cannot be located. If we are retained too late after an accident we have less chances of getting the relevant evidence. Also, there is the further chance that the equipment or area will be repaired, maintained or completely changed. Essentially, we start in a hole and we have to build our way out the more time that passes.
4. Selection of medical providers: many times, the railroad or a nurse that it has retained actually contacted one of your doctors and recommended that the doctor or provider refer you to yet another provider that the railroad “trusts.” The railroad or its nurses often select these providers because they think that that doctor or medical provider will help the railroad and we assure you it is not because they think that that provider will be best for the railroad worker. The railroad is opposed to your basic interests.
5. Failure to address the law and any regulations: while you are being assured the claim agent is “taking care of you” he or she is talking behind your back with the railroad’s own lawyers and other railroad officials. These talks are not about figuring out how to pay you full and maximum compensation for your claim-they are talking about any way to deny or beat your injury claim! The railroad is studying ways to avoid being tagged with a regulation violation or with negligence, but if you retain our railroad injury law firm early, we will attempt to prove any statute or regulation violated, and will gather the evidence we need to prove your railroad injury case as soon as possible. We will review our hundreds of prior court depositions, railroad research files, photos and videos of inspections, and will discuss the facts of your case with our contacts working at the railroad, and retired from that employment also.
This is simply a short list outlining things that can change and improve your railroad case, rather than keep your evidence on ice, while important evidence begins to dissolve away. We have authored a complete rebuttal report on what a railroad claim agent knows that he will not tell you, and we are national union designated legal counsel. On the medical and damages side of your case, we also gather the necessary evidence to prove the full extent of your losses and damages, particularly the effect on you over your future years.