Have you or a loved one been injured in a train accident? If so, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries. Train accidents are one of the most dangerous types of transportation accidents you can be involved in. Trains may provide a desirable method for transporting cargo and people across the state; however, an accident tends to be catastrophic, often resulting in severe injuries and many fatalities. This is why it’s important to speak with an experienced Los Angeles train accidents lawyer right away. Your attorney will fight for you and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Train Accident Statistics
California might not be one of the first states that come to mind for the highest number of train accidents in the country, but according to the Federal Railroad Administration, it’s one of the highest. Excluding highway-rail crossing incidents, California ranked as the third highest in the United States for accidents in 2017. For incidents involving public-highway rail crossings, California ranked second in 2017 with 94 incidents. For 2018, the statistics show there have already been 103 incidents. There has been a steady increase of incidents at highway-rail crossings for the last four years.
When it comes to local trains in Los Angeles, Metrolink has had several crashes with fatalities in the last ten years or so. Metrolink has re-evaluated its safety protocols, and newer trains in their fleet have energy-absorbing crush zones that help redistribute the energy of a collision away from the train’s passengers.
One of the worst California train accidents involved a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train that collided head-on in Los Angeles in 2008. The investigation revealed that the Metrolink train ran through a red signal before entering the single track that the Union Pacific train had already been given clearance to enter. The Metrolink’s engineer was found to be at fault as he was distracted sending text messages while working. 25 people died in this accident, making it the deadliest accident in Metrolink’s history.
Limited Time to File a Lawsuit for Train Accidents
In Los Angeles, you have a very limited window in which you can file a lawsuit after a train collision in order to preserve the statute of limitations. In some cases, you will have the full two years like a regular personal injury lawsuit. In the event your injuries were delayed, you will have one year from date of discovery in order to file. In this situation, you will have to show proof that there is no reasonable way you could’ve known about the injuries prior to the date of discovery.
If the government was negligent and has fault for your train accident, filing a claim is a different process. You only have six months from the date of your accident in order to file. The government is then required to respond within 45 days. If your claim is approved, they will compensate you for the injuries you sustained. In the event they deny your claim, you will only have six months to file a lawsuit.
Failure to preserve the statute of limitations can result in being barred from recovering any compensation at all. This is one of the reasons it’s imperative you contact an attorney right after the accident if possible.
Reasons for Train Accidents
There are a number of causes of train accidents. These include:
- Operator Error
- Not braking properly
- Improper switching of tracks
- Falling asleep
- Being distracted
- Not complying with training orders
- Being distracted
- Faulty or Defective Equipment
- Broken frames
- Fuel or oil fire
- Loose wheels
- Brake defects
- Defective or missing springs
- Other defective or faulty parts
- Vehicles and Pedestrians
- Distracted driving
- Misjudging the approaching train
- Drunk driving
- Not able to stop after entering the train’s path
- Railroad Track Issues
- Damage on the track
- Loose or a broken guard rail
- Settled roadbeds
- Defective welding
- Worn rails
A number of other miscellaneous issues can lead to or contribute to a train accident as well. These include bad weather, lack of visibility, debris or fallen object on the train track, loads shifting, and more.
Determining Liability in a Train Accident
Determining liability in a train accident can be complex and involve a variety of parties and/or factors. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to help prove liability and demand compensation from those responsible for your injuries and damages.
Potentially liable parties in a train accident can include a variety of people:
- The train operator and conductor
- Other employees
- Businesses that operates the train
- Companies that owns the train
- Train manufacturer
- Companies who sell trains or train parts
- Government agencies or private companies who are in charge of maintaining the tracks
- Any other parties, like a pedestrian or vehicle driver, who are part of the accident
Injuries Commonly Seen with Train Accidents
Train collisions are not nearly as frequent as vehicle collisions, but the severity of injuries is usually much worse. Some injuries may require extensive rehabilitation or be permanent. Serious injuries can include:
- Loss of limb
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injury
Preventing Train Accidents
While there is not much you can necessarily do if you’re a passenger on a train, there are steps you can take to reduce chances of one if you are driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.
- Don’t try to beat a train across the tracks
- Never walk alongside or on railroad tracks
- Only cross at designated railroad crossing areas
- Never stop on the tracks
If your vehicle breaks down or you get stuck on the tracks, be sure everyone exits the vehicle immediately. You should all move far away from the vehicle and call for emergency assistance right away. You should look to see if there is an emergency number posted at or near the train crossing and then call law enforcement.
Retaining a Los Angeles Train Accidents Lawyer
If you need a train accident attorney in Los Angeles, contact the team at the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm. We have years of experience handling injuries resulting from a variety of types of train accidents. Contact our office at 888-542-6021 to schedule an initial consultation.