I am sure that some of you are familiar with the game show "Deal or No Deal." The contestant is faced with 26 briefcases, each with an unknown dollar amount ranging from $0.01 to $1,000,000 inside. The contestant picks one of the briefcases and sets it, unopened, next to him. The host asks the contestant to pick one more briefcase which is opened immediately and the dollar amount revealed. Once five briefcases have been opened, the banker calls the host with an offer to buy the contestant's unopened briefcase. The contestant then has to make the decision – "deal" or "no deal" - and guess if the banker's offer is better than what is inside the briefcase next to him. Each time the contestant says "no deal," more briefcases are opened. The contestant's family and friends shout out advice as to what they think the contestant should do. The banker keeps calling with his offer. The game show host keeps asking the contestant for a decision. The contestant knows the stakes are high. Pressure mounts for the contestant, while the banker sits calmly in his dark, secret booth.
By now you must be wondering why in the heck I'm talking about a game show in a Straight Track article. What could "Deal or No Deal" possibly have to do with anything?
THE RAILROAD'S GAME
If you suffer a work injury on the railroad, you'll be a contestant in the railroad's version of "Deal or No Deal." At the time of your work injury, the railroad will immediately place a value on your case. With each additional piece of information you, the contestant, provide the railroad – statements to the claim agent, conversations with case managers, surveillance tapes, release of medical information, friendly phone calls to the superintendent's office - the railroad, the banker, will adjust, up or down, the settlement value of your case. The railroad is not going to tell you, though, what your case is really worth. It is going to leave that up to you to guess. The railroad knows you will have family and friends, most probably without any idea of your rights under the FELA - Federal Employers' Liability Act, offering you advice and participating in your decision. The railroad knows you will be faced with financial pressures so you will deal with its claim agent, the host, and take its offer. The railroad's goal is to get you to take less than what your case is really worth! And who has a better chance of winning, you or the railroad?
Don't be a contestant in the railroad's game. Know what's involved in your case from the very beginning. Be able to make informed decisions.