If you are or a loved one has been injured or killed in a railroad accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Of the estimated 3,000 railroad accidents per year, there are several common types of claims.
Derailments can cause injury, death and loss of property. Most derailments are the results of one of the following:
- Faulty tracks
- Faulty equipment
- Negligent behavior
- Too much cargo weight
- Obstacles on the tracks
There are rules and regulations in place to help prevent derailment. All too often derailments are the result of negligence or gross violations of these rules or regulations. Derailments can damage, death and injury to train passengers, railroad workers, vehicles, buildings and homes, property, and pedestrians. About once every two weeks a train derailment causes a chemical spill that requires evacuation of near-by communities.
Railroad collisions can be train to train, train to car, or train to pedestrian collisions. Train collisions are unique because they are so extreme and often catastrophic in nature. Railroad collisions are far more complicated than auto collisions because they involve more complex laws, large companies, and often government entities.
Some railroad accidents do not involve derailments or collisions. People who slip and fall on railroad platforms and are injured may receive compensation. Passengers who suffer from food poisoning while dining on a train may have a claim. In any type of accident that involves a railroad company, special expertise are needed to effectively pursue a claim. State and federal laws may apply. Fault and responsibility must be determined and proven. Often the time limit for filing a claim is very short, due to government involvement.
When a train crashes into an automobile the results are usually devastating. The sheer weight and velocity of a train means a much greater potential for serious injury and death, and usually the complete loss of the vehicle. In a car to car crash, fault is much easier to determine. Railroads are held to a higher standard of care than the everyday driver, and the responsibility does not fall simply on the engineer. Many factors are involved in a car/train collision. The train itself may have had faulty equipment, warning systems to alert the car driver to the train or to alert the train of the auto may have failed, and sometimes pure human error is the cause.
Railroad Crossing Malfunctions
Too many railroad accidents occur because railroad companies are negligent by failing to correct railroad crossing malfunctions in a timely manner. Federal law requires railroads to maintain railroad crossing signals. The railroad industry tries to downplay this problem claiming publicly that train crossing accidents are almost always caused by irresponsible drivers, rather than signal malfunction. This is simply not the case. Railroads are not required to report malfunctioning signals, and therefore there is no pre-existing record of the malfunction when an accident occurs.
Railroad accident claims can become very complicated and require an expert attorney. Unique factors apply to cases involving railroad companies, and it is important to act quickly. Fault is determined by a different set of rules and standards than most injury cases, and the investigation must be handled properly.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a railroad accident, contact an experienced railroad accident attorney right away.