It is fair to assume that your relationship with the railroad company for which you have worked is a happy one, that you have liked your work, and that you and your employer have enjoyed a mutual respect and cooperation in getting the railroad work done. You have no doubt worked as a team. You have been headed in the same general direction and to some extent your interests have been common. That situation however changes immediately when you are hurt on the job.
No matter how great your relationship has been with the railroad, this much is certain-the minute you are injured on the job your interests, and the interests of the railroad, become absolutely opposed to each other. Your interest as an injured employee is to protect your rights under the federal statute and to collect for your injuries for the sake of your family as well as yourself, every dollar that the law will allow. The interest of the railroad is to see to it that you do not collect at all, or if you collect, that is amount is not one dollar more than absolutely necessary. This does not mean that in every case the railroad will be unfair or dishonest. It does mean however that the railroad is not going to pay you a single dime unless you are prepared to prove that you are entitled to it under the law, and then, not a single dime more than is absolutely necessary. There is no generosity in this business.
To protect its interests the railroad has on its payroll lawyers and claim agents. Have you ever heard of a railroad that didn’t have both? It is with the claim agents that you will most likely have to deal. These people are very able and highly skilled technicians. They know exactly what they are doing. They are being well paid for a single purpose, and that is to see that you get nothing at all for your injuries, or in failing that, that you get as little as possible. Most of them are honest, but the very fact that they are honest means that they do their very best work 100% for the railroad company and absolutely not at all for you. It would be dishonest, if now unlawful, for a claim agent to give away the railroad’s money. They couldn’t do it even if they wanted to. So when a claim agent says “Mr. Smith, we don’t owe you any money, but we’re willing to pay you a little anyway,” they are either lying to you or cheating the company.
As for fairness, have you ever head a claim agent say, “Mr. Smith, I don’t think you’ve asked for enough money. In fairness to yourself, why don’t you ask for a little bit more?” If one did, how long do you think they would have their job? Remember, no one can serve two masters. The claim agent who tells you they have your interests at heart is probably lying to you but, if they mean what they say, they are cheating the railroad company as well. The claim agent is the only employee of the railroad who is not engaged in helping the railroad earn money. Their sole purpose is to try to save the railroad money it has already earned. If you let them do it, they will save the railroad money in the only way they can, by taking it out of your pocket and that of your family.
The minute you are injured, a whole team of highly trained persons go to work on your case for the railroad company to develop by investigation those facts which help the company and hurt you. They will take photographs which will show a situation favorable to the railroad and unfavorable to you. They will look into the law to find that which will help the railroad’s case and hinder your case. In the meantime, while the railroad is busy protecting its own interests what are you doing about your interests?
You have the right to go it alone and represent yourself, but if you feel that you do indeed need help to cope with the skill and experience which is working against you, you should call a lawyer and get advice.