According to the Federal Railway Administration, there are hundreds of people killed and thousands injured each year in train accidents in the United States. The accidents range from individual injuries to catastrophic events. Usually, however, they have a couple of things in common. First, the injuries tend to be serious; and second, there is rarely any fault on the part of the injured person. Railroad negligence, failure to maintain equipment, poor training and operation of the railroad – these are the more likely causes of these accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident or has suffered any kind of railroad-related injury, call the Kelly Law Team today. We are experienced personal injury lawyers who will work hard to maximize your recovery, and help you start on your way to recovery, and resume the life you led before you were injured.
Common Causes of Train and Railroad Accidents
Not all railroad accidents are the same, and your injuries may have been the result of a variety of causes. Accidents result from both mechanical failure and human error. They include:
- Collisions typically occur at railroad crossings, although they can happen at any location.
- These tend to be the most catastrophic accidents, involving injuries to many people both inside and outside the train. They are often caused by broken rails, which can usually be attributed to poor maintenance.
- Track Problems. In addition to broken rails, other track problems, including faulty joints, contribute to railroad accidents.
- Human Error. Many railway accidents are the result of human error, including conductor negligence, distracted engineers, failure to slow down where appropriate, and others.
- Equipment Failure. Malfunctioning onboard systems affect breaking, speed and other operations. A failure can lead to disastrous results.
- Signal Failure. While a relatively small percentage of train accidents are caused by signal failure, the results can be disastrous.
The severity of train accidents runs from simple slip and fall cases to injuries affecting entire communities.
Examples of Serious Train Wrecks
Train accidents have been occurring since before 1880. Recent examples include:
- Twenty-six cars of a lengthy freight train derail and explode in Illinois. Around 800 people are evacuated.
- A California Amtrak train is involved in a collision with a truck, injuring 50.
- A derailment in New Jersey leads to a railroad car leaking vinyl chloride. Approximately 100 people are treated for exposure to the chemical.
- Sixty people are injured (5 suffer critical injuries) after a Metro North commuter train collides with another train in Connecticut.
- An out of service Chicago Transit train collides with a stopped train in Illinois, injuring 33.
- In West Virginia, a train collides with a logging truck, resulting in one death and 23 injuries.
- A derailment (blamed on the conductor falling asleep) in the Bronx, New York, leads to a derailment, causing 4 deaths and 63 injuries.
- A Chicago train overruns a buffer and ends up on the escalator at O’Hare International Airport. Thirty-two people are injured.
- A derailment in West Virginia, caused by a broken rail, leads to a fire in the crude oil tank cars. Over 1,100 people are evacuated.
- A train derailment in Oxnard California kills one and injures 29.
- A derailment in Philadelphia injures around 200 of the 243 passengers on the train.
- A passenger train collides with a tractor-trailer in Brooklyn. Over 100 people are injured.
These are just some of the many railroad accidents leading to death and injuries over the past several years.
Victims of Railroad Accidents
The list of victims is wide-ranging. They include:
- Car and truck drivers.
- Entire Communities, including environmental damages resulting from certain train collisions, derailments and other accidents.
- Railroad Employees.
In the case of injuries to railroad employees, special laws apply that may affect the way in which a damage lawsuit is handled.
Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) vs. Workers Compensation
Of the thousands injured and killed every year in railroad accidents, many of the victims are railroad employees. The causes and the severity vary, just as they do with any other work-related injuries. But in the case of railroad employees, special rules apply. They are contained in federal legislation (and related federal regulations) first passed in 1906 and known as the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
FELA provides, generally, that railroad employees who suffer job-related injuries are entitled to compensation. But it is important to understand if FELA applies in your case. Here are some of the issues that may arise:
- Interstate Commerce. FELA only applies if the railroad is engaged in interstate commerce. This ordinarily means that the railroad has tracks and/or cars that cross state lines.
- You may be employed by a subcontractor of a railroad, yet the subcontractor may not be covered under FELA.
- Pain and Suffering. Unlike state workers compensation laws, FELA permits recovery for pain and suffering.
Train Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ
Railroads are notorious for resisting valid claims against them. This makes it essential that you choose wisely when looking for a lawyer for your accident claim. The Kelly Law Team is an aggressive law firm capable of handling tough cases. Whether you were a passenger, pedestrian, driver, employee or anyone injured in a train accident, we can help. We know the law, and we are always focused on maximizing your recovery. Call us today for a free consultation.