Nearly every single one of us uses a cell phone and carries it with them 24/7. When and if you suffer an on-duty injury your first instinct is to reach out to loved ones, medical providers, union reps, and friends. You may even call an attorney for advice or representation. These types of communications are vital and necessary to protect your health and well-being by seeking medical care or learning how to file a claim by contacting a union official or an attorney. The attorney calls may be protected by attorney/client privilege but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. The courts do not automatically shield these communications from disclosure on the grounds that the communication relates to the case at hand. Even though we fight these requests we do not always win – your best and the first line of defense is to be smart with whom and how you communicate.
We advise that you limit calls and texts to the bare minimum.
Don’t exaggerate or say things you might later regret. After an on-duty injury it is important to first remember that you are hurt, you need help and advice and your only focus should be on getting help and those services. This is not the time to call your friend to discuss the play by play of the incident, what you could have done to prevent the injury in the first place, or even just how awful the RR is and why you need to sue them.
Some of this may sound unfair, and you may be wondering why you should be concerned about “private conversations” but the fact remains that as prevalent and convenient as these smartphones have become, they can be “weaponized” by the railroads in a lawsuit.
Your phone can be where the railroad can learn you took actions or made calls that are contrary to your FELA claim.