Train accidents are one of the most horrific types of accidents that occur. Injuries are sustained by a large quantity of people. And, sadly, some of them experience death. Such a catastrophic event can result in damages ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. If the train accident occurred as a result of negligence by the railroad company, then they can be held liable for the damages and wrongful deaths that happened.
The statue of limitations on a personal injury case is two years. However, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately after the train accident. Your hesitation to do so can dramatically affect your case. Time is of the essence. The railroad companies train their drivers to be in constant contact with them. They have a very efficient communication system in place. When an accident occurs, the driver will immediately notify the railroad company. And, within hours, if not sooner, their investigators will be at the scene. In fact, the investigators may make it to the scene before the first responders arrive. This is why it would be in your best interest to have your own investigators at the scene as soon as possible. You need to have your own people at the scene asking questions, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. Otherwise, evidence tends to disappear and people’s memories tend to become fuzzy.
Train accident lawsuits are very similar to other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The only difference is that more litigants are typically involved in this type of lawsuit. The lawsuit begins with a complaint being filed against the railroad company. The filing occurs in the same jurisdiction of the train accident. The railroad company files a response to the complaint. At this time, the railroad company also states its defense. Evidence is exchanged between the plaintiffs and defendants during the discovery period. Typically, hearings soon follow. These hearings address any pretrial motions that exist. The pretrial motions generally involve discussions regarding the evidence to be admitted, facts the parties concur with and other matters in question. The trial commences. A verdict is rendered. And, if the railroad company is found to be guilty, then an amount for damages is awarded.
Not every train accident lawsuit goes to trial. Certain factors tend to play a role in determining the course of a case. An attorney does what is in the client’s best interest. Sometimes, clients feel that it is in their best interest to settle their case. This can be accomplished through mediation or arbitration. Clients find this path more desirable because it eliminates the risks, costs and long wait times typically associated with trials.
The ultimate decision to go to trial lies in the client’s hands. Courtrooms do not intimidate attorneys. They are always prepared to go to trial, provided that is what the client wants. However, if the client wants to accept a settlement offer from the defendant, then that is what will occur. Attorneys do not coerce their clients to do something that is counterproductive. Attorneys will advise the clients of their options and inform them which one will be most beneficial to their endgame.
Settlements are reached in many train accident lawsuits. Of course, railroad companies want to avoid negative exposure. An upside to a settlement is that it eliminates the risks and expenses involved in a lawsuit.
A settlement can be negotiated at any time during a train accident lawsuit. One can even be offered before or after the lawsuit. Generally, the parties involved have already established a predetermined amount that they believe will pay for the damages incurred. Amounts are exchanged between the parties until a figure is agreed upon.
The downside to a settlement is the possibility that a jury could have awarded the plaintiff a significantly higher amount than the settlement amount. But, it should also be noted that train accident liability has a cap of $200 million.