Train Derailment Accident Attorneys
Train derailments are events where the wheels or bearings of a rail car detach from the rail tracks. This renders an engineer unable to brake or control the train, leading to potentially devastating crashes and casualties.
Most children have heard the dubious “fact” that a single penny placed on the train track can cause the whole train to fly off the rails. While it takes more than that to knock a train off course, train derailments are both dangerous and more common than you might think. According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, there are over 1,000 train derailments every year. Of those, 400 are caused by track defects, and between 550 and 600 are caused by human error.
If you’ve been harmed in a train derailment accident, we at Arnold & Itkin want to hear your story. Our firm has spent the last several years winning landmark cases and record-setting verdicts for injured clients. All told, we have won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements because we believe in a simple truth: companies should be accountable to the people they hurt.
Call (888) 493-1629 today to tell us what happened. We can tell you if you have a case and how we can help.
The Causes of Trail Derailments
Research about how and why trains derail has revealed some interesting truths. For one, speed and human error are the leading factors behind derailment. Trains that travel faster than 10 mph are more likely to derail; however, under that speed, human error is the leading cause.
Train derailment has several known causes, including the following:
- Excessive speed
- Misaligned or broken rails
- Conductor negligence
- Collision with another object
- Sharp turning curves
- Broken gauges
- Defective rails, rail gaps, & welds
- Switching rule violations
- Improper train handling
- Broken wheel or bearing at high speeds
In some cases, a train may collide with another vehicle, such as a car, at a railroad crossing. The collision thrusts the train off the tracks, and the train destroys the vehicle in its path. Some railroad crossings are remote, but other railroad crossings may be in downtown metropolis areas. If a train derails in these areas, they could run into buildings and injure a significant amount of people and deal even more financial damage.
Injuries from Train Derailment
Though train derailment is not as common as car crashes, a single incident has far more casualties than the average auto collision. For example, a train derailment from early 2017 in Brooklyn left 103 people injured. Another incident in May 2015 killed 8 people and injured over 200 in Philadelphia. When hundreds of tons of steel and diesel engine run off the rails at 40-50 mph, the effects are bound to be devastating.
Serious injuries that can result from train derailments include:
- Broken bones
- Broken ribs
- Crush injuries
- Amputations / loss of limb
- Internal bleeding
- Sprained joints
- Brain injuries
Railroads understand that they are responsible for the safety of their employees and their passengers. The infrastructure of our nation’s rails are, in part, their responsibility. When they fail to do their jobs and perform maintenance or follow safety regulations, people get hurt.
That’s why firms like us exist—to keep them accountable to you.
Train Derailment FAQ
Is it easy to derail a train?
It is not easy to derail a train by force or collision, but derailments are the most common type of train accident. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that there were 4,365 derailments in the U.S. from January 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020—out of 6,320 total railway accidents. That’s 69% of all train accidents. But what causes these derailments? Leaving a penny on a train track will probably not derail a train. A collision with a vehicle on the tracks is not likely to cause a derailment either. Trains are extremely large and heavy, and derailments due to collisions are unlikely. The leading causes of derailments in the U.S. are defective or missing crossties, improperly lined switches, improper train alignment, and speeding.
What can be done to prevent train derailment?
Problems with the track and human error are two of the most common causes of train derailment. Track monitoring and inspections are essential to prevent derailments caused by defective tracks and switches. Proper training and safety standards can help to prevent human error, such as improper handling of a train or excessive speed. A new system called positive train control (PTC) is being implemented across the country as a part of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which uses GPS to track a train’s location and speed and can signal whether it needs to be slowed down. All of these things can help prevent train derailments.
What should I do if I was injured or lost someone I love in a train derailment?
Talk to an attorney. If you were seriously injured or lost a family member because a train derailed, you’re facing a challenging and uncertain future. To help you rebuild and face a more stable future, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, funeral costs, lost income, emotional trauma, and possibly much more. This cannot erase this experience or bring back a loved one, but it can bring peace of mind and financial stability—while holding the negligent party accountable.
Why Is an Injured Passenger Entitled to Compensation?
Negligence is almost always the reason why a train derails from its track. If an object is on the track that shouldn’t be there, the object’s owner could be held liable for the train’s derailment. If the conductor is speeding and the train derails, the train company will be held liable for the accident. If the train has mechanical issues, the train owner may be the one held responsible for the incident.
When misaligned train tracks are involved in a derailment, negligence will fall on one of two entities depending on the scenario. If an entity privately owned a piece of track, then the entity that owns the track will be held responsible for negligent ownership of their railroad asset. If a public corporation owns the track, the entity that runs the track will be held liable, and stockholders may see a decrease in share prices.
Our Train Accident Lawyers Can Help
Recovering financial compensation in a train accident can be especially difficult because each injury case will vary by the specific injuries that a claimant sustains and the conditions of the accident that caused the derailment. For those on a passenger train, you will need the help of an experienced attorney to make your claim known while the Federal Railroad Administration looks into the cause of the accident.
For railroad workers and families of workers who have sustained an injury or wrongful death due to a derailed train at their job site, an attorney will help you understand the options you have to file a claim that fits under the correct filing subheading and requests a just amount of compensation. Train accidents are considered to be extremely lethal, and for this reason, local and federal agencies almost always investigate the collisions. Additionally, the train company will also look into the cause of the accident to identify what went wrong.
With all of these investigations, train accident cases can be very easy to pursue thanks to the agencies that collect this vast amount of data. Therefore, workers and civilians who are injured by train derailments should always file an injury claim to secure the financial compensation that they are due.
To learn more about your rights after being involved in a train derailment accident, call (888) 493-1629 now.