What can I do if I was involved in an accident with a train?
Train accident injuries are not limited to catastrophic events such as train collisions. Trains are federally regulated and therefore have complex state and federal laws that aid in the determination of liabilities to its passengers. Because of these complexities, it is important that all victims of a train accident injury to seek counsel who understand the regulations imposed on mass transit services.
Below are answers to the most common questions asked by victims of train accidents.
- If I am injured in a train , is the transportation service liable to compensate me in the event of an injury?
The transportation service may be liable for compensation if investigation determines signs of negligence on its part resulted in your injuries. Most passenger train operations are regulated by the federal government, and are designated “common carriers”. Each state's laws individually determine the liability issues of a common carrier as they pertain to passenger injuries as long as there is no conflict with the of the federal government. Typically, a common carrier is required to use the highest level of safety in the transport of its passengers. Transportation services ensure safe areas for passengers, including the areas to board and unload passengers and cargo.
- What organizations are responsible for maintaining railroad grade crossings?
In most cases, federal and state authorities approve, fund, install and inspect the crossings, often with help from local governments. Afterwards the railroad companies assume control and responsibility of the crossings, frequently inspecting and maintaining them, and clear the surrounding vegetation to keep adequate sight lines.
- What if I’m a pedestrian who was hit by a train at a crossing?
Crossing signals are primarily installed to alert motorists. Even so, you may still have a claim against the railroad company if you can prove negligence to the crossing or negligence in the operation of the train. You may possibly file a claim against any other person or organization whose negligence contributed to the accident.
- What if the accident occurred in places other than a designated railroad crossing?
The location of the accident must be proven to be a common crossing point, with a defined path for crossing. Negligence of the train operator may need to be proven.
- What if I’m a railroad company employee and I was involved in a train accident?
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which applies to railroad workers, allows a limited exception to the general prohibition against suing an employer.
- I was injured in a train accident, whom can I make a claim against?
You can make a claim against any party responsible for the collision. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, this may include the railroad company and governmental jurisdictions in which the accident took place.
- What are the recoverable damages for death or injuries received in a train accident?
- Damages may include:
- Future wage loss
- Past and future medical bills
- Loss of care, society, and companionship
- Loss of support and services
- Pain, disability and emotional distress
- What responsive measures should I take in the even of a train accident?
After a disastrous event such as this,many different people want you to make a statement. Some of the people eliciting statements from you are federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Others are from the railroad company, or any other entities involved. The media will also want a statement from you. Most of these individuals have specialized training in dealing with these types of events and may have agendas that are not necessarily in your best interests. Provide law enforcement agencies with any facts you may recall, but stay on topic about the facts and nothing else. We strongly suggest you seek consultation from our experienced attorneys before providing statements to any other parties involved and any statements to the media. It is also necessary to keep a detailed journal of the events and document all physical and mental injuries as they develop over time accurately present your case.
- In a train accident, what roles, if any do the NTSB and the FBI have in the investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency with jurisdiction over train accidents. Their primary role is to investigate the accident with the purpose of issuing safety recommendations to prevent future accidents. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) takes over jurisdiction when criminal acts are suspected as a cause of the accident.
For train passengers, train accident injuries are similar to car accident injuries, including trauma to the head, broken bones, or whiplash. Because many trains do not provide seat belts, the severity of injuries is varied.
As a passenger car driver or pedestrian, train accident injuries are more dangerous and often fatal when compared to train passengers. A train's size, weight, and speed are the three factors that make a train accident more serious. Most accidents of this type involve very long recuperation times and are often associated with related psychological issues.
Victims of a train accident injury have a limited time frame to file for a civil suit. Because train services are regulated by the government, some states require special notices be issued in as little as 30 to 60 days following the accident. Victims of train accidents must act promptly in retaining experienced legal representation to ensure all procedures are completed in the time frame allowed by law.
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