Railroads and trains are not as common now as they were in the past, but 21st-century rail systems are still extensive and are still critical to the U.S. economy. Amtrak, for example, now operates in 46 states on 21,000 miles of track and carries over 25 million passengers every year.
Statistically, trains today are somewhat safer than buses and trucks when it comes to transporting people and freight. Nevertheless, the federal Department of Transportation reports that more than 2,500 train accidents and derailments still happen each year in the United States. If you have been in an accident with a train you may want to reach out to a Bronx public transit accident attorney.
RECENT TRAIN ACCIDENTS HAVE BEEN CATASTROPHIC
Most of these 2,500-plus incidents are minor. Other accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities. And several recent train accidents have been catastrophic:
- In September 2016, a New Jersey commuter train crashed into the Hoboken Terminal, killing one person and injuring more than a hundred other people.
- In June 2017, a subway derailed in Manhattan, and 34 people were injured.
- In February 2018, an Amtrak train en route from New York City to Miami derailed in South Carolina, resulting in two fatalities and in injuries to 116 other persons.
Train accidents led to 35 deaths in New York State in 2018, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, but even if you are not a passenger or an employee, you could be injured (or worse) by train-related negligence. That’s because of derailments.
The Federal Railroad Administration also says train derailments that involve dangerous chemical spills and that require the evacuation of nearby residents have happened several dozen times every year in the last decade.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF TRAIN CRASHES AND DERAILMENTS?
New York City is one of the largest commuter rail and transit centers in the U.S. – and there are 3,500 miles of track in New York State – but so much rail activity creates plenty of opportunities for derailments, crashes, injuries, and deaths. The leading causes of train accidents include:
- human negligence and error
- faulty parts and mechanical defects
- badly maintained tracks
- obstacles including vehicles, boulders, debris, or animals obstructing the tracks
When the reason for a train crash or a derailment is negligence – by an operator, a manufacturer, or a railroad company – and when someone is injured because of that negligence, the victim is entitled by law to reimbursement for medical costs, lost wages, and all other related damages.
WHAT INJURIES ARE USUALLY SUFFERED IN TRAIN ACCIDENTS?
Trains typically move with a speed and momentum that makes quick braking impossible. Train crash survivors can be seriously or permanently disabled with traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal cord injuries, neck and back injuries, paralysis, and injuries that require amputation.
The life-long care and treatment for catastrophic injuries sustained in train accidents could put most New York families in a grave financial hardship situation. That’s why the law in New York State entitles train accident injury victims to full compensation for their medical costs and more.
If you’re injured, a train crash can lead to a difficult personal injury case. If your injury in a train wreck is catastrophic or disabling, you will need the maximum compensation and a lawyer who can win that compensation for you.
You’ll also need an attorney who has considerable experience representing the injured victims of train accidents – someone you can trust who puts you at ease, listens well, and gives your case careful, personalized attention.
CAN YOUR INJURY CLAIM BE RESOLVED OUT-OF-COURT?
If the evidence of a railroad company’s injury-causing negligence is obvious, an out-of-court settlement can often be negotiated quickly, but if no reasonable settlement amount is offered, the right lawyer will take a personal injury victim’s case to trial, if that’s the only way to win justice.
Railroad companies and commuter rail lines are “common carriers,” meaning that they carry paying passengers. Buses, taxis, commercial airliners, and even cruise ships are also common carriers. They are required to exercise the highest degree of care for the safety of passengers.
If you are injured in a passenger train accident, for example, and the owners and/or employees fail to exercise that highest degree of care and diligence, you’re entitled to seek compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a Bronx personal injury attorney.
WHICH PARTIES MAY BE LIABLE FOR TRAIN ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES?
To prevail with a personal injury claim after you’ve been injured in a train accident, your attorney will have to determine which parties or parties were negligent, and prove it. Depending on the details of a train accident, one or more of the parties listed here may have liability:
- conductors, engineers, and other train crew members
- mechanics and other maintenance personnel
- railroad company management
- railroad company owners
- rail car and parts manufacturers
- rail system designers
WHAT ARE THE VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE ENTITLED TO IN NEW YORK?
Personal injury settlements include economic damages (quantifiable damages like medical bills and lost wages) as well as noneconomic damages (for personal pain and suffering). New York courts only award punitive damages in situations involving extreme or egregious conduct.
When medical care after a train wreck is ongoing, your lawyer may ask a financial expert to project your future medical costs for settlement purposes. Noneconomic damages are harder to assess, but standard formulas are used to decide the amount that victims should receive.
When a train accident triggers a wrongful death claim, the decedent’s surviving family members must also rely on a financial expert to project their future income losses.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
But even when the responsibility for a train accident is obvious, negligent parties may still use every available defense strategy to reduce the amount they must pay. That’s one reason why an injured train crash victim must be represented by the right Bronx personal injury attorney.
If you are injured in a train accident because someone was negligent, your personal injury attorney will review the particulars of the train accident and the details of your medical reports, determine which parties were at fault, and negotiate on your behalf for an acceptable out-of-court settlement.
If no acceptable settlement is offered, your lawyer may recommend going to trial and asking a jury to order the payment of the compensation you seek. If you are injured in a train accident, don’t procrastinate. Seek a good lawyer’s help and get the justice you deserve. That is your right.
Check out one of our recent blogs here: UBER AND LYFT ACCIDENTS (WHAT ARE YOUR LEGAL OPTIONS?)