Did You Lose a Loved One or Suffer Serious Injury in a Train or Railway Accident?
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Millions of people depend on rail travel every year to get them where they need to go safely. Commuter trains are a very important part of public transportation services, and freight locomotives are essential to our country’s economy. But when something goes wrong, these vital modes of transportation can quickly become deadly for passengers, rail workers, and even bystanders.
The Amtrak crash in Washington state demonstrates how fast things can go wrong. Train 501 was traveling for Portland when it derailed outside of Tacoma Washington. Several train cars plummeted to the highway below, while other train cars were left dangling precariously from the bridge. Nearly 100 people, both on the train and on the ground, were injured the wreck, and several died. What happened on the train during its inaugural run on a new high-speed line has yet to be determined, but odds are, somebody did something they shouldn’t, or failed to do something they should have, and the victims paid the price.
Our Rail and Train Accident Attorneys Fight for Your Rights
Our train and railroad attorneys represent passengers and workers who are injured, and the families of those who are killed, as a result of train accidents and railway incidents across the country. Our fierce dedication to protecting the rights of the injured has earned us national recognition, and our experience, skill, and resources have helped us successfully resolve countless injury cases. Families who have lost loved ones in fatal train and rail accidents count on us to help them seek justice and get them the compensation they need and deserve for the grief and emotional pain they suffer.
Types of Railway Accidents
- Train derailments and collisions
- Railroad crossing injuries
- Railroad worker injuries
- Employees exposed to hazardous or toxic materials
How Safe Are Trains, Anyway?
It’s hard to tell how safe trains are unless you review accident reports and statistics published by the Federal Railroad Administration. According to the latest statistics, trains may not be nearly as safe as you might think.
In fact, in 2017 alone, there were thousands of train accidents that took the lives of hundreds of people and injured thousands more. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, between January and September there were 8,619 total accidents. About 674 of these crashes were fatal, leading to the deaths of about 699 people. These statistics do not include railroad crossing accidents, or any accidents that occurred after September.
Primary Causes of Train and Rail Accidents
Some of the most significant causes of train accidents are the decisions and behaviors of those involved. In fact, human factors are the number one reason behind most accidents, followed closely by track defects. According to the Federal Railway Administration, the top reasons for train incidents and accidents in 2017 were:
- Human factors (36.07%) leading to 439 accidents
- Equipment defects (13.89%) leading to 169 accidents
- Track defects (27.77%) leading to 338 accidents
- Signal defects (3.04%) leading to 37 accidents
- Miscellaneous causes (19.23%) leading to 234 accidents.
Of the human factors identified as causal elements in train accidents, eight human factor causes were responsible for 48 percent of all accidents caused by humans-
- Failure to apply or remove a derail safety device
- Failure to determine if the track ahead is clear before beginning
- Failure to latch and or lock a track switch
- Improperly positioned track switches
- Lack of point protection to monitor conditions and movement
- Leaving rail cars in a place that interferes with adjacent tracks
- Operating over a track switch that was previously damaged
- Shoving rail cars with point protection but failing to properly control the movement.
Because of the high number of train accidents that occur because of track defects and human error, the Federal Railroad Administration lead the push for Positive Train Control systems to improve safety. Positive Train Control works to prevent collisions, incursions into established work zones, and keeps trains traveling on the right tracks when switches are in the wrong position.
However, PTC safety systems are expensive, and while it was originally to be installed on all trains by the end of 2015, however the railroad industry lobbied for and received a deadline extension to 2018. If Amtrak train 501 had PTC installed, it may have prevented the train from entering the overpass at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour over the posted limit, and may have prevented the fatal derailment.
Railroad Worker Accidents and Injuries
On April 3, 2016, an Amtrak train derailed near Chester, Pennsylvania killing two railroad workers and injuring 39 people. After investigating the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the crash was caused by deficient safety management and a clear, lack of vision where safety is concerned. The accident happened when the train struck a backhoe that was being used to work on the track. Toxicology reports after the accident stated the backhoe operator had cocaine in his system, the engineer had marijuana in theirs, and the track supervisor had morphine and codeine in theirs.
While the drug use wasn’t cited as a causal factor in the crash, it does show safety issues with the country’s top passenger rail line. But Amtrak isn’t the only train line significant accident statistics. In fact, the Federal Railroad Administration reports that in 2017 alone, there were 3,143 incidents involving railroad employees. In those incidents, 10 workers were killed and 3,133 were injured.
Railroad workers who are injured while on duty are urged to contact us to learn more about their rights and the federal laws that protect them against negligence.
Proving Negligence in Train Accidents
The sheer size, weight, and speed of trains make them dangerous, but effective means of transportation. But when a passenger, railroad worker, or bystander are injured or killed because of a railroad company’s negligence, the law says they can be held accountable for the injuries and losses caused by that negligence.
Railways have a duty to provide safe passage for their passengers and safe working environments for their workers. This includes more than just making sure the cars are safe. All equipment and tools must be regularly inspected and in good working order, the track must be properly installed and maintained, and all workers must be properly trained, and even the platforms must be safe and secure.
When a railway fails to ensure these safety measures are in place and followed, they may be held liable for any injuries or losses they cause. For example, in the recent Washington state Amtrak derailment, the NTSB found the train was going nearly twice the legal speed limit as it headed around the curve and onto the bridge, and the train was not installed with PTC. While Congress gave railways until 2018 to install PTC, the train should never have been traveling at double the posted speed limit as it neared the bridge.
If you were injured in a train accident, you should file an injury claim with the railroad company, just as you would if you were in a motor vehicle accident and filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. If a loved one is killed in a train or rail accident, a wrongful death claim should be filed.
After you file, a claims adjuster for the railroad will contact you and work as a liaison between you and the company. They will review your injuries and losses, analyze typical awards for the type of injury you sustained, and report this estimate to both you and the railroad and determine the amount of benefit that you should be paid.
But railroad companies aren’t in the business of paying passenger claims and they may do just about anything to limit their liability. Passenger injury claims and wrongful death claims are expensive, and you can bet that any railroad company will have a team of attorneys on their side, protecting their interest.
You need a team of experienced railroad accident attorneys on your side, protecting the interests of you and your family.
Why You Should Contact Us Today
We are dedicated to holding negligent railroad companies responsible for the injuries they cause, and we don’t let them get away with short-changing your grief, pain, and suffering. We won’t let them take advantage of you or your family and we will help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about how we handle railway accident claims, including how we-
Analyze the evidence, black box data, eyewitness testimony, and expert testimony to see exactly what caused the crash
Determine the scope of your injuries and losses so you know exactly how to file your claims.
Estimate the cost of damages and loss with medical and railroad experts who know how to estimate the true cost of train crash injuries and deaths.
Advocate on behalf of train crash victims and their families to ensure you get the most compensation possible for your injuries and losses.
Negotiate with the responsible entitles on your behalf to reach the best settlement possible.
When necessary, litigate your case in court and use every lawful measure to obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
If you were injured in a train or rail accident, or if your loved one was killed in a crash, contact us today to learn more about the options that may be available to you, including seeking significant compensation for your injuries and losses.