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Railroad Accidents

What Causes Train Accidents?

There are many different factors that can lead to train accidents. Weather problems, conductor problems, and equipment problems are just a few.

Hardware problems could include roadbed wear and tear, incorrect geometry on the track, faulty anchors or joints between the bars and the rails, or malfunction with the switches or other track appliances. Some common types of train accidents include:

  • Derailments;
  • Head-on collisions with another train;
  • Collisions with automobiles; and/or
  • Pedestrian-train accidents.

Most train accident lawsuits involve passenger trains. However, train accident claims can also involve other similar forms of railroad transportation, including subways, trolleys, cable cars, trams, and monorails. The term “train accident” can sometimes be broadened to include various other accidents, including:

  • Accidents occurring at a train station;
  • Electrocution incidents (especially with the tracks); and/or
  • Slip and fall incidents.

Train accident injuries can be very serious, and can involve injuries to the head, neck, spine, and other areas. Some incidents can involve fatalities, especially in derailments and head-on collisions.

Who Can be Liable for a Train Accident?

Liability for train accidents can be attributed to various parties. The exact allocation of liability will of course depend on the facts involved in each train accident case. Parties that can sometimes be held liable for train accidents include:

  • Train conductors (especially for negligent operation of a train);
  • Train operating companies and their personnel; and/or
  • Manufacturers of train parts or rail parts (especially for parts or components that were defective).

Also, victims of a train accident can sometimes be found liable in part for their own injuries. An example of this is where train/car accident occurs because the driver of the car was driving while intoxicated.

What Claims Can Be Brought for Train Accidents?

Hardware problems with a train can also lead to train accidents. If a person was injured as a result of problems with a trailer, container, draft system, wheels, doors, track parts, axles, wheel bearings, or general electrical system failures, there are legal avenues available to recover damages.

First the victim must decide who to bring the suit against. The train owner or conductor may be the first obvious candidates, but there are other possibilities as well.

If the accident occurred because of faulty parts, the manufacturer of the parts could be liable. Mechanics and maintenance operators can be held liable if they made mistakes or oversights in their work that led to the train accident.

Finally, train accidents can occur when the train is being loaded, at a crossing, or in other dangerous conditions such as inclement weather. If employees were negligent during these unusual conditions, a victim can recover monetary damages in a tort action.

What Legal Remedies Exist?

Monetary damages for pain and suffering are the most common kind of remedy for victims of a train accident. Besides seeking damages for the cost of medical care, victims can also seek compensation for pain pain and suffering, hospital expenses, and traumatic aftereffects.

This also includes lost work or other income that occurred as a direct result of the accident. Cases involving wrongful deaths may also involve additional damages calculations.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Train Accident Case?

Train companies have large legal teams to represent them, so it is important to have a personal injury attorney  available to represent you in your injury claim. Personal injury lawyers can provide representation as they are experienced with recovering personal damages for individuals.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.

Is a Railroad Liable for Injuries Caused at Crossings?

A railroad is not liable for injuries caused at crossings just because a crossing is hazardous. The crossing must be extrahazardous and the railroad must have been negligent in the maintanence of the crossing in order to be found liable. An "extrahazardous" railroad crossing is one that a reasonable person cannot safely use unless safety measures are taken in excess of those normally used.  

In railroad crossing collision cases, liability depends on a number of factors. The most common include:

  • Adequacy of Warning Devices

Generally, there is no duty to provide gates or other safety devices in the absence of a statute requiring them.  However, there may be a need for safety devices because of foreseeable accidents. For example, crossings with heavy traffic or crossings where the view of oncoming trains is obstructed may mean that the railroad was negligent in not providing gates or safety devices. If safety devices are not at a crossing where they are required by statute, the railroad company may be guilty of negligence per se (an act which is intrinsically negligent because of the violation of a statute). 

  • Degree of Hazard

Liability depends on the degree of hazard of the particular railroad crossing.  Variables such as weather and obstructions will effect the hazardness of the crossing.  For example, buildings, trees, bushes, weeds, or grass which obstruct the view of oncoming trains may indicate a breach of care on the part of the railroad.  Some jurisdictions have statutes requiring railroads to clear its right of way of trees and shrubs for a specified distance on either side of a crossing.    

  • Care of Train Operators

The train and crew must use reasonable care to avoid injury to those who use the crossing. Trains approaching railroad crossings are required to give warning, usually by a bell or whistle. Other factors of the train and its crew, such as speed, lights, signals, and lookout, can also be evidence of the negligence of the railroad.  

Should I Contact an Attorney If I Have Been Injured at a Railroad Crossing?

If you or someone you know has been injured at a railroad crossing, a personal injury attorney can help you recover for your injuries. The railroad company may have defenses to liability, but an attorney can help protect your rights and build your case.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.

Who is Liable for Injuries Sustained on a Subway Train?

Subways and trains can be either publicly or privately operated. In either case, the subway operator usually has their own team of investigators and/or lawyers if injuries occur as a result of subway operations. 

State statutes governing subway accidents can vary widely by region, but it is often possible for a subway operator to be held liable for the injuries of their passengers.

In most subway accidents and injuries, the subway operator can be held liable according to a negligence theory. To be held liable for the passengers' injuries, it must be proven that: 

  • The subway operators owed a duty of care to the passenger;
  • The subway failed to exercise such duty of care; and
  • The breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of the passenger's injuries (causation)

Under a negligence theory, it is usually most difficult to prove the element of causation. Sometimes a passenger's own carelessness is the cause of their own injury, in which case their monetary recover will be lessened or completely withheld. 

However, if it can be proven that the subway's own actions caused the injury, then it is likely that they will be held liable for the passenger's injuries.

What Types of Injuries can occur while using a Subway Train?

Riding a subway train can expose the passengers to various risks and injuries. Some of these include:

  • Slipping and falling;
  • Collisions with other subway or railroad trains;
  • Injuries resulting from being caught in the subway doors or turnstiles;
  • Injuries resulting from sudden stops;
  • Electrocution from the train tracks or other mechanisms;
  • Harm resulting from negligent repair or other unsafe/unsanitary conditions;
  • Injuries related to debris, trash, poor lighting, or other types of obstructions;
  •  Exposure to dangerous chemicals, noxious fumes, or other types of toxic torts, especially if there has been a chemical spill on the tracks;
  • Injuries related to fires or smoke (these can often be dangerous, as passengers can sometimes be trapped in small spaces); and/or
  • Wrongful death claims.

Generally, to recover damages, the injury must have been caused by some failure or negligence on the part of the subway operator. The subway operator usually cannot be held liable for the actions of other passengers, including thefts, robberies, assaults, batteries, and other types of crimes caused by the individual passengers.

However, the subway station might be held liable if these crimes resulted from a lack of security measures, or if a security guard was present but did not intervene to provide safety.

Also, the subway operator generally cannot be held liable for secondary or unrelated losses such as lost wages due to being late for work (although loss of wages due to injury may be recoverable).   

How Can I File a Complaint for Subway Injuries?

As mentioned, most subway operators employ their own team of investigators and attorneys to deal with passenger injuries. 

Oftentimes investigations are conducted to relieve the subway company of liability for the injuries. For this reason, if you have been injured in a subway incident, you should hire your own lawyer to investigate the incident and researching the various subway injury laws.

You should start by filing with the subway operator. Oftentimes subways are operated by the department of transportation of the city or other similar local government agencies. 

You should contact them and provide them with a report of your injuries. Your report should include:

  • A detailed account of the nature and extent of your injuries;
  • A report of how the injuries occurred;
  • Reasons why the subway operator should be held responsible;
  • Why you yourself are not responsible for your injuries; and
  • Any eyewitness accounts, reports, photographs, or video footage.

Also, you should keep all copies of medical reports and receipts, including hospital bills and prescription records. 

Some of the main causes of subway injuries include poor maintenance of tracks and errors on the part of train engineers or conductors. If you have knowledge or evidence of any defective conditions or services, you should include this in your claim as well. 

Remember that the amount of compensatory damages that you will be able to recover depends on the nature and severity of the injuries you have sustained. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Subway Injuries?

If you have been injured during a subway trip or at a subway station, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer immediately, while the events are still fresh in your memory. A personal injury attorney in your area can help determine what your options are in terms of obtaining recovery. Severe negligence on the part of the subway operators can be addressed in a court of law.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.