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Accident Lawyers Discuss Train Accidents

According to the federal railroad administration office of safety analysis, there are over 1,000 train accidents each year with an average of over 80 occurring in California in the past four years. Meanwhile, there were over 30,000 deaths by car accident in 2015. But how often is an individual in contact with a train compared to a car? Very rarely. According to data from the Federal Railroad Administration, which regulates freight, commuter, and passenger railroads nationwide, for every 1,000,000,000 train passengers, 7 have died. Before 1853, very few passengers were killed in a single train wreck. This is because early trains traveled at slow speeds and for short distances. Trains did not usually travel at night and there generally were very few trains in operation. Regardless, accidents do occur so speak with accident lawyers if you have been involved in one.

Though incidents involving trains are much rarer than those involving cars, they typically have much more devastating effects and a higher number of individuals involved. Train accidents can occur in several locations:

  • Within train cars
  • On train platforms
  • In train stations
  • On train tracks
  • In train crossing areas

Serious injuries can be incurred at any of these locations and often occur due to negligence by the conductor, car driver, or pedestrian. Train accidents can result in serious injury or death to train passengers, car passengers, or pedestrians. Specific causes to train accidents include:

  • Pedestrians negligently crossing train tracks within or outside of the designated crossing area
  • Car driver inattentiveness or negligence – drivers operating under the influence may try to “beat the train” or may not have the state of mind to follow traffic directions near crossing areas
  • Faults in the road
  • Warning signs that are not visible or absent
  • Signal failure
  • Obstructed view of the oncoming train
  • Mechanical failure
  • Speeding leading to derailment

Most incidents involving trains result in serious injuries. Common injuries from train accidents include:

  • Damage to internal organs or soft tissue
  • Broken bones
  • Severed limbs
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Permanent disability such as paralysis
  • Death

California has over two dozen different rail companies that run thousands of passengers every day. Statistically, this would indicate a very low incidence of death. However, train tragedies usually strike unexpectedly and have consequences for many individuals. Accident lawyers are trained to help victims of these rare occasions.

Past Incidences

In September of 2008, a metrolink commuter train collided head on with a freight train in northwest Los Angeles. The cause of the accident was determined by the National Transportation Safety Board to be the running of a red light. It was determined that the conductor of the commuter train did not heed to a red light before entering a single-track section of the rail road. The freight train had been given the green light by the train dispatcher and had also entered the single rail section of the track. On a curve in this single rail section, the trains collided. It was later determined that the train engineer had been distracted by text messages and had not noticed the red light. This negligence resulted in the deaths of 25 people and many more hospitalized individuals under care for extended periods of time. The emergency response to the crash included entities from the city and county of LA and was so extensive it even included search and rescue resources. Multiple claims have been filed and damages are expected to exceed the $200 million cap established in 1997. This will be the first instance of legal challenge to the cap law. This was the deadliest incident in Metrolink history.

Even when engineers have the best of intentions and follow all regulations, train incidents can occur. In 2013 in Quebec, a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded. The engineer had left the train for a brief respite, being sure to engage the brakes before leaving. Somehow, the train became mobile and went off down the tracks. Fifty people are missing and presumed dead after the train left the tracks and its cargo exploded.

So even though train accidents are rare, the consequences when there is an incident can be horrific. Many people rely on train systems such as Amtrak and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and other metro services to get them to their destinations. Accident lawyers can help you and other victims who have suffered from injuries from train accidents.

Possible Compensation

In the unfortunate event of a train collision, individuals are lucky to survive. Medical treatment can be extremely expensive and emotionally taxing. When seeking damages against the individual or entity deemed responsible, it is possible to be compensated for the following:

  • Medical costs
  • Wages lost from missed work
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical therapy
  • Punitive damages

Train incidences can vary widely from one to the next, making it difficult to make blanket statements on legal action. Understanding exactly what occurred in the accident may require reconstruction efforts and determining exactly who is liable can be complex and involve considerations on federal, state, and local levels. Railroad companies and their insurance providers are often well-funded and will do whatever they can to deny compensation to accident victims. As always, the best thing to do is to contact a knowledgeable and motivated law firm that will work hard on your case to get you the compensation you deserve.

Our Accident Lawyers Are Here To Help You!

Any type of injury stemming from an accident warrants the legal advice of accident lawyers. If you have been injured in any type of collision or catastrophe, including train accidents, speak with one of our accident lawyers at The Weinberger Law Firm at (916) 357-6767.

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