Railroads require employees who are injured at work to complete what is called an “incident” or “accident report.” Besides providing documentation that an incident occurred and detailing the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident related to injury, the report also is the first step in proving fault on the part of the railroad. Conversely, the railroad will use the opportunity to shift all blame to the employee.
In order for the employee to complete the report, these key tips you should keep in mind:
- Read through the entire form before you begin to fill it out. This will help you to organize your thoughts and put all the truthful information in its proper place.
- You may consider talking to your local chairman before completing the report. While this experience may be new to you, your local chairman and specifically union Designated Legal Counsel see these forms regularly and can be of assistance.
- Describe the incident. Detail any unsafe condition or equipment that may have contributed to your injury. These facts should be included and fully explained.
- State clearly if you believe the working conditions were unsafe.
- Identify all witnesses – anyone who either saw the incident or could testify as to any unsafe conditions or equipment.
- Know your rights. Do not be intimidated if you are required to complete the report in the presence of a company official. You have the right and the duty to complete the report fully and completely.
Completing an accident report may not be the first thing on your mind after you have been injured, yet it is a critical step that demands your full attention. As soon as possible, you should consult with an attorney experienced in railroad worker injuries. If you have any questions regarding your rights and responsibilities in preparing an accident report, contact a lawyer at Harrington, Thompson, Acker & Harrington, Ltd.