Railroad Accidents – Potential For Catastrophe

An Amtrak railroad train crashed into a backhoe, killing two railroad workers in Chester PA, on April 3, 2016. The workers, both Amtrak employees, were performing track maintenance. The train was traveling at 106 MPH and was derailed in the collision. The cause was still under investigation at the time of this article. The entire episode was recorded by the train’s camera and trip recorder but the investigation, into why this happened, is expected to take months.

Railroads present both workers and the public with certain dangers. There are an estimated 3000 railroad accidents involving trains each year in the US. Railroad accidents causing injuries may be due to negligence on the part of employees, railroad companies or from malfunctioning or defective equipment. Railroad systems that disregard public safety are one leading causes of accidents, as are signal failures and lack of warning signs and lights. Many accidents also occur when warnings are disregarded.

Causes of Railroad Accidents

Collisions are fairly common at railroad crossings which may involve cars, trucks or pedestrians. Pedestrians walking along active railroad tracks are also frequent victims of train accidents. Train switching must be done with exact precision to prevent trains from colliding with each other. Railroad train operators must be aware of speed limits and signals. Excessive speeds and neglecting signals are the leading cause for train derailments and collisions. Due to their enormous size and weight, accidents involving trains are often catastrophic causing injuries, death and property damage.

Trains carrying volatile cargos, such as crude oil, through populated areas also present a huge risk to the public. In 2013 a runaway tanker train carrying crude oil crashed and exploded in the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec, near the border of Maine, killing 47 people. Several other railroad accidents have occurred in the US involving crude oil in the past several years sparking new safety legislation. Faulty tanker cars have been cited as contributing to several fiery crashes and oil spills.

Railroad accidents may be the result of a number of factors including:

  • Mechanical failure of the train
  • Failure or malfunctioning of switching equipment
  • Faulty crossing gates or warning lights or the lack thereof.
  • Unsafe railroad or train design
  • Manufacturing flaws or defective parts in trains or railway equipment
  • Malfunctions or obstructions in the railway.
  • Negligence on the part of the train operator
  • Negligence on the part of a railroad worker

Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA)

FELA works on a federal level to protect and provide compensation for railroad workers who are injured on the job. FELA covers all employees that work on or for the railroads. Railroad workers who are injured on the job should seek the aid of an experienced FELA railroad accident attorney. The laws are complex and the FELA attorney is essential as a guide through the winding maze of issues. Workers must prove that their injury was caused by legal negligence on the part of the railroad company. Compensation in FELA cases is usually many times greater than with a workers compensation claim.

Retaining a Railroad Accident Attorney

Victims of all railroad accidents should hire a railroad accident attorney that has the experience and knowledge of all aspects of railroad liability. Railroads are labeled as common carriers and are bound to strict regulation by state and federal laws. They may be held legally liable for even the slightest degree of negligence due to the high threat to public safety. Train accidents are a complex area of law requiring the skills of an attorney specializing in this area.

It is important to seek the help of a railroad accident attorney right away if you are injured in a railroad accident. The statute of limitations creates a narrow window of opportunity to file a suit before the time limit expires. In the case of government operated railroads, that window is even smaller. The attorney must work expeditiously to determine negligence and file before the time expires.

Dolman Law Group is an experienced railroad accident law firm that has the knowledge and skill to recover the maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering as well as property damage. If you or a loved one were injured in a railroad accident, speak to a railroad accident lawyer today. Call (727) 853-6275 for a free, no obligation, evaluation of your case. Do not hesitate as time may run out for you to file.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275