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Who is a Witness?

"I didn't even see the accident, what could I possibly tell you that would benefit anyone?"

Our investigators hear this all of the time. The answer is, "You might be surprised."

You may have important knowledge regarding an on duty injury and not even be aware of it. When we interview potential witness we are looking for a wide range of information.

Not only are we are looking for eye-witnesses, we are also looking for fellow employees that may have complained to railroad officials about the conditions that may have caused the accident.

A fellow employee who inspected the equipment or area involved in the accident, such as a faulty switch, bad footing, oil on walkways or other unsafe conditions, after the accident occurred has valuable knowledge.

Someone who saw that the person who was injured was apparently healthy and able to perform his or her duties prior to the accident, or an employee who saw the injured person after the accident and can confirm that the person appeared to be in pain and unable to perform their normal duties, is an important witness.

There are times when we need to interview fellow employees who have knowledge of the type of work that the injured person was performing at the time of the accident.

We are looking for a wide variety of information. The knowledge that you have might not be apparent to you, but it could be very important to us and to the injured party.

"Can I get in trouble if I give a statement to you?"

The answer is a resounding, "NO!" You are protected by law. There are several court rulings that allow you to give a voluntary statement to "party in interest". A party in interest is defined as the injured party and/or his or her attorney.

Recently, the Union Pacific Railroad was ordered by the Honorable Daniel J. Stack of the Circuit Court, Third Judicial District, Madison County, Illinois to not only change Rule 1.2.6 regarding furnishing information, but was further ordered to mail a copy of the order to all of its employees. The employees were instructed that they "should disregard any rule promulgated or adopted by the Company which prevents you from providing information about employees injuries to their attorneys. Specifically, Rule 1.2.6 regarding statements should be disregarded."

Why do you think the railroads do not want you to cooperate with an injured railroader's attorney? Because, often, information that only you can provide may be crucial to the case of your fellow employee.

So, for the sake of your brothers and sisters, please cooperate with the investigators and attorneys that are working hard to develop information regarding an on duty injury.

If YOU were the injured party, you would certainly want your fellow employees to cooperate with your attorney, wouldn't you?

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