Railroad Employee Who Felt Pressured to Lie About Cause of On-the-Job Shoulder Injury Recovers Confidential Sum | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia-based railroad injury law firm client suffered a shoulder injury on the job while attempting to lift a gas cylinder. He had already been experiencing shoulder pain and had scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist when the worksite accident happened.

The railroad worker exacerbated his shoulder problem when the cylinder he was lifting slipped and he tried to regain control of the it.

Our client did not immediately report his shoulder injury to his manager and supervisor because he feared retaliation. Specifically, he did not want to be accused of making a false report in an effort to compel the railroad company pay for the already scheduled appointment and treatment by the orthopedist.

When our railroad employee injury client saw the orthopedist, the doctor detected a recent injury. The railroad worker told the orthopedist about the incident with the gas cylinder, and the doctor advised our client to file an accident and injury report because the shoulder damage would prevent him from safely performing his duties with the railroad.

Our client followed the orthopedist’s advice and informed his manager and supervisor of the work-related injury. That initial and factual report reached the desk of a higher-level company official, who subsequently traveled approximately 50 miles with another official to personally discuss the incident with the railroad worker.

At the end of his meeting with the two senior railroad company officials, our client wrote a statement in which he falsely claimed that he had injured his shoulder while at home. The statement also indicated that the rail worker understood that the railroad had no liability for compensating him for the treatment of and recovery from his shoulder injury.

After taking possession of this second written statement, the company officials told our client that he was now on medical hold and could not return to work until cleared to do so by the company. The company officials had no further contact with our client.

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Key Legal Strategy

We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the injured railroad worker, arguing, in part, that he felt pressured to write out the false statement about how he got hurt and what liability the company had. This allowed us to question under oath both our client and the company officials with whom he met.

During his deposition, our Virginia railroad injury client explained that he prepared the disputed statement at the direction of the officials because he feared he would lose his job if he did not. The videotaped depositions of the company officials confirmed many of the facts given by our client and also revealed new information about how the company had failed to provide our client with basic equipment designed to assist him with handling the gas cylinder.

Following these disclosures, the railroad settled the case for a confidential sum before a trial could start.

Railroads often try to deny claims from injured workers because no official accident report was filed or because conflicting reports exists. As attorneys for injured and ill rail employees for nearly 40 years, we work hard to counter these typically baseless arguments.