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Surveillance Video by the Railroads

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  • Surveillance Video by the Railroads

    Dear YL-

    I have seen some fairly egregious/aggressive defense tactics in the years I have been practicing in an attempt to get video footage of someone claiming to be hurt.

    For instance, we have seen a person come out in the morning only to find that they have a flat tire. The person naturally changes their tire. Then a week later, you get a DVD in the mail with the video footage of your client changing their tire.Of course the defense then claims that if he can change his tire then he can work an 8 hour work day 5 or 6 days a week and is entitled to no damages.

    Most the time the argument of the defense borders the absurd but there is no question that it is better not to give the railroad opportunities to have "good" video surveillance if you can avoid it. No question, we tell our clients that it is very hard to undergo a lawsuit. Take a person that is used to working for a living and ask them to simply go to the doctor and their physical therapy appointments and try not to do anything that could give the defense surveillance video; that is a tall order!

    In almost every jurisdiction, the law does not compel the defense to actually even tell you that they have surveillance video until the plaintiff has actually testified in his/her deposition. The idea being that if the plaintiff will not be truthful on a specific question such as, for instance, "Can you mow your lawn?" Answer "No", the defense should have the opportunity to find out if the plaintiff will be "honest". The case law presupposes that the defense has the chance to test the credibility of the plaintiff. That is why, it is imperative that the plaintiff's counsel "woodshed" the plaintiff prior to the deposition and that, at all times, the plaintiff tell the truth. Please see this post on what is a "Woodshed" and why it is so important: http://www.yardlimits.com/forums/leg...dshedding.html.

    However, I have to tell you that the railroads have taken video surveillance to an art form. We have a case against Union Pacific wherein the person was injured on August X; the very next day, the UP sent an investigator out and videotaped the plaintiff! The next day!!! But why shouldn't they? They would surely like to spend ten or twenty thousand dollars to try to save paying six or seven hundred thousand dollars. They will do this every day any day without question.

    Is surveillance completely damning? No. In fact, in some instances, we have actually turned it around to be useful in proving the injury. But, for the most part, it usually does not help and, most the time, it causes a little mini-trial within the main FELA trial.

    A case is, in its basic sense, a legal skirmish; a fight; a tactical warfare. As in every war, there are battles. The goal of the plaintiff and the plaintiff's attorney should be to create as few internal battles within the main skirmish as possible. Sometimes, you want to create a skirmish to misdirect the defense. However, giving surveillance video is usually NOT the type of battle that you want to create for yourself.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: If you are hurt on the railroad, PRESUME you will be videotaped by the defense and PRESUME it can occur at anytime. If you come out and you have a flat, call AAA. If you mow your lawn, get somebody to do it. The process of litigation takes time and "doing the time" can be the roughest part. However, if you elect to go forward, be committed to the project. After all, it is you and your family's future and you want to make sure that you do the best you can do to maximize your chances of success.

    Steve Gordon
    FELA Lawyer
    Steve Gordon
    Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P.
    FELA Lawyer
    FELA Lawyer Blog
    Serving Injured Railroad Employees Nationwide
    Call for a FELA Lawyer 24/7/365
    800-773-6770

  • #2
    I'm a hermit, they'll have a hellofa time getting any video of me doing anything physical outside besides going to the grocery store.
    Standard lengthy disclaimer / warning / terms of use: All postings by "NSRLink" are fictional, public information, for entertainment purposes only, should never be taken seriously, and in no way should be construed to represent the positions, views, ideas, or thoughts of any railroad carrier, person, entity, organization, or otherwise. By reading anything posted or associated with the user ID, "NSRLink," any entity agrees they shall not be offended, harmed, sad, defamed, inflamed, upset, mad, harassed, have their feelings hurt, or similar. Parties or entities not agreeable to these "terms of use" are hereby required to block this profile "NSRLink" and agree to not read or view posts so they will no longer be offended, harmed, sad, defamed, inflamed, upset, mad, harassed, have their feelings hurt, or similar in any manner, and may do so via UserCP "Edit ignore List" & adding "NSRLink" to the list. Thank you & good day to you.

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    • #3
      If I may add to this.........

      I have done a little PI work and i can tell you that if you really are hurt, it is best to fight the urge to do anything that can be viewed as "work".

      You would not believe how easy it is to just sit with a camera and watch someone. This isnt LEO your dealing with. A PI has a client to make happy and will do anything they have to make it happen.

      I have even taken my wife to a club, danced next to and even shared small talk with the very person, and his new girlfriend, that I was watching.
      All postings by BadOrderKing are public information, works of fiction, sometimes resembling the rants of a madman and in no way should be construed to represent the positions, views, or thoughts of any particular railroad carrier. No one listens to him anyway.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BadOrderKing View Post
        I have done a little PI work and i can tell you that if you really are hurt, it is best to fight the urge to do anything that can be viewed as "work".

        You would not believe how easy it is to just sit with a camera and watch someone. This isnt LEO your dealing with. A PI has a client to make happy and will do anything they have to make it happen.

        I have even taken my wife to a club, danced next to and even shared small talk with the very person, and his new girlfriend, that I was watching.
        so, that was YOU! -------------------------------------:tongue: the UP is famous for this.a guy I work with almost didn't get his job back because they filmed him bent over working on his motorcycle when he was off with an injury. it took years before they let him come back.
        -sigpicLet's All Hunch!

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        • #5
          in the past i know for a fact a railroad here in illinois attempted to use pictures or video against injured employees. i know of one person who was photographed at his home carrying 1 gallon of milk for his wife from her car. however he was cleared to lift up to 8lbs by his doctor which gallon of milk weights in between 7 and 8 lbs. in another case the injured employee lived in the country and kept seeing suspicous vehicles across the farm field from his house. so him and his wife got in their truck one day to confront the people. well the cameraman must have fell asleep as they were on top of him before he realized it and nearly got into a car accident speeding away to avoid the confrontation. needless to say when you are hurt videos and photographs may show you doing something that looks like you can do it, HOWEVER THEY DONT SHOW THE PAIN you endure from attempting it.
          --all postings by this poster are public information and in no way should be construed to represent the positions, views, or thoughts of any particular railroad-for their official position please see the particular carriers website

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          • #6
            All of the replies are very helpful and I believe confirm that this is a very significant problem. In most UP and BNSF cases that out firm handles, we are ethically permitted to advance the client monies interest free so they can pay their necessary bills during the pendency of the claim. We do this on a "non-recourse" basis, i.e., that it does not get paid back, unless there is a recovery for the client.

            The things that we consider on determining the amount to advance on a monthly basis is, of course, what are the normal monthly bills but also, sometimes, we add an additional amount to literally pay someone to do the yard, or to pay for an AAA membership or things that are historically areas where it is ripe for video footage to be secured. Ultimately, the client can do some mighty stupid things to just "mess up" their claim no matter how many times they are cautioned.

            It is a real problem and any FELA practitioner should educate his/her client accordingly.

            Steve Gordon
            FELA Lawyers
            Steve Gordon
            Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P.
            FELA Lawyer
            FELA Lawyer Blog
            Serving Injured Railroad Employees Nationwide
            Call for a FELA Lawyer 24/7/365
            800-773-6770

            Comment

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