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FELA: Reporting Accidents and Handling Claims Agents

Any worker who is involved in an accident should immediately report the incident to the company. When filling out the accident report, be as accurate as possible, but ask permission to fill the form out later if you are in pain and can not complete the form with a clear head. Consider having the local or general chairman of the Union present when such forms are filled out and signed. It is very important to identify all negligence and defective equipment on the accident report.

After the initial injury report is completed, a claim agent representing the railroad will probably ask an injured worker to give a recorded, oral statement concerning the accident. The injured worker in some cases is required by the railroad to give such a statement. Preparation, including speaking with a Union official and designated counsel, is essential in this situation since it will usually occur several days after the incident. Seemingly harmless statements to an experienced claim agent have the potential to severely damage the value of an FELA case. The claims agent’s job is to save the railroad money and keep settlements for injuries as low as possible, so workers should be cautious when making any statement to a claim agent.

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