Travel by train can be a convenient and enjoyable way to get around, whether for your daily commute or a cross country trip, offering picturesque views and an opportunity to see out of the way landscapes. There is a train route that transports thousands of people every year from Seattle to Portland every year. Amtrak is a large company that transports many of these passengers each year.
The late night whistle of the train is a soulful sound that harkens back to an older fashioned and quaint way of life. Unfortunately, trains are prone to accidents that can prove to be devastating.
Every year in the United States there are roughly 3,000 train crash accidents, resulting in about 1,000 deaths as well as thousands of injuries. Add to this about 1,500 train derailments, and you have a mode of accidental injury for which a personal injury lawsuit may apply. Full disclosure: while it is unfortunate that travel by train can be dangerous, it should be noted that, on a per-mile basis, riding in a train is about 17 times safer than driving in a car.Most Common Train Accidents
The leading kinds of train accidents are:
- Two train collisions
- Train derailments
- Collisions with motor vehicle
- Hitting a pedestrian
The Federal Railroad Administration reports that many train injuries and deaths are also caused by individual suicides as well as unauthorized vehicles or people on the train tracks. In fact, extreme accidents, such as violent head-on collisions by two trains, are relatively rare.
Although somewhat uncommon, some train accidents involve spillage of hazardous materials that may cause chemical exposure or other kinds of injuries to nearby residents or pedestrians in close proximity to the accident.Injuries and Damages Caused by Train Accidents
Leading train accident injuries and damages include:
- Physical injuries
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Medical expenses and future medical costs
- Lost income from time off work
- Property damage
Train accidents can lead to any number of various injuries, including broken or fractured bones, head or brain injuries, lost limbs, lacerations, and internal organ injuries. In addition to physical injuries sustained in a train accident, victims may also experience emotional suffering, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a result of a particularly frightening accident.
Often times, injuries may result in medical bills as well as time lost at work—both of which can be costly to the injured person. Lastly, property damage can occur during train accidents, from large-scale damage such as that inflicted upon a motor vehicle or bicycle to small-scale damage of personal property, such as a personal computer.Injuries Caused When There is no Train Accident
Perhaps you were riding on the train to work and you spilled scalding hot coffee on yourself and sustained first degree burns when the train suddenly lurched forward. Or you slipped on a wet surface in the aisle of the train and fell and injured your head. Any number of injuries can be sustained on a train when the train itself does not engage in an accident. These kinds of injuries may make for a valid personal injury claim when the accident was not your fault, but rather due to the negligence of the train company or employee. See the section on Negligence below.Common Causes of Train Accidents
Leading causes of train accidents include:
- Human error / Train operator error
- Train track defects
- Mechanical or electrical failures
- Defects or malfunctions with signals, crossing arms, and warning lights
- Poor train maintenance or defective equipment
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, about half of all train accidents are due to human error of the train operator. They say that to err is human, but a train accident caused by human error will in all likelihood make the train operator and/or the train company liable for any injuries sustained by passengers, pedestrians or anyone involved in the accident.
Another leading cause of train accidents is defects in the train track resulting from maintenance failures or structural problems. About one third of all train accidents, including derailments, are caused by defects concerning the train track, roadbed or related structures.
As with any mechanical form of transportation, mechanical failures occur on trains. Sometimes these are due to defective parts and sometimes they are due to worn down, broken parts which may be caused by lack of maintenance.
There are over 150,000 railroad crossings throughout the United States, each with its own set of signals, crossing arms, and/or warning lights that alert the public to the approach of a train. Occasional mishaps in these contraptions are bound to occur, and when they do accidents can happen.Negligence and Liability in Train Accidents
If you have been injured in a train accident, or in an incident that occurred while riding as a passenger on a train, you need to determine if the train company or a train employee was negligent, and thus liable for the accident and your injury.
Negligence is determined by considering if reasonable care was exercised to ensure your safety as a passenger on the train—which includes maintaining a safe and fully functioning train, including all its requisite parts. If the train company or a train employee failed to exercise reasonable care and this resulted in the accident and/or your injury, they will likely be liable, which means found to be at fault and thus responsible for your damages.
Most of the accidents listed and described above will tend to be considered as being the fault of the train company or a train employee. If you have experienced a train injury that you believe was due to the fault of the train company or a train employee, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
If you have been injured on a train, then you have the right, under Washington State law, to make a claim for your damages. Under Washington State law, for a personal injury case you can recover the following:
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for lost wages
- Money for out of pocket expenses
- Money for medical bills
As you might imagine, many train companies have insurance policies that cover them.
These insurance policies may provide a great deal of money to compensate you for your damages, but it is very rare that the insurance company for the train company will come forward and simply hand you a great deal of money. You normally have to fight to obtain this money from them.
An experienced, aggressive attorney has the resources and the knowledge to get you the money you are owed for what you have been through because of the train company’s negligence. Feel free to call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation.