Millions of people ride trains every day in the United States. However, when trains aren’t maintained, or when reckless drivers try to beat a train across the tracks, a serious accident may occur.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there is a train accident every 2 hours in the U.S. In 1999 alone, there were more than 2,700 train accidents. Also, train accidents tend to be more dangerous, especially when you consider the weight and high speeds trains can reach.
Hundreds of people die in train accidents each year. They are often caused by:
- A collision with another train
- A collision with a car or bus
- Mechanical failure
- Inadequate security
- Dated and unsuitably maintained tracks
- Conductor negligence
A train is considered a common carrier, so when a train accident has occurred a train accident attorney can find out if the business is liable for the injuries and damages sustained. Common carriers have a responsibility to safely transport the public by taking all precautions to avoid a train accident.
There are more than 600 railroads and hundreds of thousands of miles of track traversing the country. Many of these rails are used for freight transportation, including cargo, merchandise and chemicals. Trains carrying toxic chemicals are particularly threatening if involved in an accident. Passenger trains use only a fraction of the railroads in the nation, but are still involved in collisions and derailments each year.
Collisions and derailments may occur for a number of reasons. Engineer negligence, inadequate rail maintenance and unsafe operators have all been blamed for train wrecks. Lately, there has been an increase in the number of train collisions involving motor vehicles.
The National Transportation Safety Board indicates that 60 percent of all crossing fatalities occur at unprotected crossings and that approximately 80 percent of all public railroad crossings are not protected by lights and safety gates.
Rail companies continue to rely on technology that was developed more than 70 years ago and very little effort has been made to update safety measures. Local jurisdictions often have no control over the train travel in their area resulting in delays for local emergency response to catastrophic situations in the community.
Since there are many factors that lead to a railroad accident, there are many people who can be held responsible for be your injury, loss of income, or pain and suffering. While it is the responsibility of the railroad company to maintain the tracks and the train you ride, truck and car drivers also have the responsibility of following the laws and not trying to sneak pass the crossbars after they’ve been lowered.
There are laws that govern whether or not the carrier is liable. There are many factors that determine if the railroad company was at fault and could have prevented the accident and resulting injuries by exercising the proper care and maintenance. Also, if the carrier is found liable, there are even more factors to consider as to what percentage of liability they will have to assume.
The laws governing liability in the case of railroad accident and injury are extremely complex. It must be determined that the railroad company was, in fact, responsible for the accident and was acting in a negligent manner. If the railroad is found responsible, it must then be determined to what extent they are liable.
While proving a physical, emotional, or cognitive injury can be difficult, the aid of a competent legal counsel can help you focus your attention on getting your life back to its normal state.
At Munley, Munley & Cartwright, our goal is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients. We strive to achieve the highest standard of excellence for the protection of individual rights through team work and the use of our considerable resources and experience.