Trains are important for both passenger and freight travel in California. According to Caltrans, freight trains carry 156.1 million tons of cargo over 6,863 miles of railroad track. Passenger trains cover most of the state, including commuter rail lines. With this amount of traffic, accidents are going to happen. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that someone is struck by a train every two hours, and over 1,000 fatal accidents happen annually. Chemical spills also occur frequently and necessitate resident evacuation. Overall, there are approximately 18,000 injuries and 1,200 deaths nationwide each year.
Below we’ll look at the different types of train accidents, who is liable for the resulting injuries and deaths and how an individual or family can obtain compensation for their loss.
Los Angeles Train Accident Attorney
Since railroads cross paths with automotive traffic, car/train accidents are a big part of accidents in the state. Such accidents cause devastating, life-changing injuries, and being in a train crash can evoke traumatic emotions for years to come. If this happens to you or if a loved one was killed in a train accident, you need an experienced lawyer at your side. David Azizi fits the bill. Winning 98 percent of his cases, David helps train accident victims recover the compensation they deserve.
Types of Train Accidents
There are several general types of train accidents. These include:
- Train/train collisions
- Person/train crashes
- Auto/train accidents
Reasons for a Train Accident
Due to their size and weight, train accidents are horrific and deadly. Train operation is complex and requires adequate training to provide safe travel. However, human error, as well as poor track conditions, are problems. There are several common reasons train accidents happen:
- Train signal malfunction
- Excessive speed
- Overcrowding of passengers and cargo
- Poor training of personnel
- Lack of train maintenance
- Inadequate track maintenance, including allowing debris to remain on the tracks
- Faulty hiring practices
- Reliance on old equipment
- Lack of signals and other warning signs at a railroad crossing
- Pedestrian/train accidents
- Poor security
- Negligence in train cars
- Negligence by the motor vehicle driver
Every year, 5,800 auto/train crash accidents are reported nationwide. The majority happen at train crossings. Two-thousand three hundred people are injured in these accidents and 600 are killed. In some, a motorist will try to “beat” a train as it is approaching the crossing. In others, the car will stall on the tracks. A train cannot stop quickly due to its enormous weight. For instance, a freight train traveling at 50 mph will take one mile to come to rest.
Safety Devices and Crossing Safety
Safety devices are an important part of train crossing areas, yet around 50 percent of fatal crashes at crossings occur because such tools are lacking or broken. In daylight hours, roughly 75 percent of crashes happen when a train strikes a vehicle. However, after dark, the odds change, and 50 percent of all crashes are due to a car/truck hitting a train. The latter is usually due to inadequate lighting or signal use. When a train collides with a motor vehicle, the vehicle occupants suffer devastating injuries.
Motorcyclists and cyclists are also victims of train accidents. When struck by a train, both groups suffer catastrophic injuries and usually fatal ones. The chance that a train’s engineer can stop in time to avoid an accident is slim. The likelihood that the engineer will see the cyclist or biker is even less likely.
Common Carriers in California
When a person is hurt or dies as a result of negligence in a public transportation accident such as that involving a train crash, the provider of the service can be held liable under common carrier laws. Common carriers in the state are those that transport goods or people for a fee. They include light rail trains, freight trains and passenger lines such as Amtrak.
State law requires that the carriers have a high standard of care, higher than that required of other moving vehicles. The common carriers must also make sure that operators are skilled and that the platforms where the passengers exit and enter the trains are safe. If the carrier fails in its duty, it can be held at fault for the damages the passenger suffers.
How Common Carriers Fail to Maintain Safety
There are reasons that common carriers fail in their duty to protect passengers. These are:
- Operators are too tired
- Operators are not trained properly
- The equipment is not maintained or fails inspection
- Lack of track repair
- Security is not enabled
- Lack of station security
Compensation in a Train Accident
If you were involved in a train accident due to the carrier’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated. This is true whether you were a passenger on the train, a driver or vehicle occupant involved in a crash, or if the lack of security at the train station and boarding area caused you to be hurt. Unfortunately, train companies are large businesses that protect their own interests. It is important to know how to approach the accident from a negligence standpoint. Since negligence must be proven, there are things you can document after a train accident to help:
- Note details of the accident: This includes documenting whether the train engineer applied the brakes to stop before impact.
- Passenger injuries: If you were a passenger on the train and were injured, note what happened. For instance, were you injured by loose objects aboard the train? How long did it take for someone in authority to reach you? Were you required to wait for a prolonged period for medical care, and did you observe other passengers in the same situation?
- Location of the accident: This includes the precise location where the accident happened and where you remember the operator taking corrective measures.
- Emergency crews: Note which emergency personnel responded to the accident and how long it took for them to get there.
- Vehicle damage: Note damages to your vehicle if you were involved in a vehicle/train accident. If possible, get pictures or keep the vehicle garaged to prevent the evidence from deteriorating.
- Hospital: Take note of who cared for you in the hospital if you can. Get copies of the records also.
What Compensation Is Available
If you were injured in a train accident, you have the right to be compensated for the damages the accident inflicted. Some are:
- Property damage: The damage to your vehicle or other personal property should be compensated.
- Medical expenses: Due to the nature of a train accident, most victims require varying degrees of medical care. If the train company was negligent, you are able to recoup the costs of physician and hospital services, medication, surgical procedures, home care and future medical expenses.
- Psychological care: Due to the traumatic events involved in a train accident, many people suffer significant and long-lasting psychological and emotional injury. This may require extensive treatment, which can be compensated for.
- Lost earnings: After a train accident, a person may be unable to work or be forced to take a less strenuous job. This loss of income, now and in the future, can be compensated.
- Disfigurement or amputation: Many train accident victims suffer disfiguring trauma or the amputation of their limbs. These are life-changing events, and an experienced train accident lawyer will fight to ensure the injured person receives the compensation they deserve.
- Paralysis: Some individuals involved in a train crash are permanently paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries. The care such victims receive is costly, and the injury changes their lives forever. The cost of intervention in such cases is high. and damages must be covered in both the present and future.
Wrongful Death in a Train Accident
Many people are killed in train accidents. This causes grief and monetary harm to their families. While filing a wrongful death lawsuit cannot eliminate grief, it can help the family face the financial devastation the person’s death causes. Some of the damages addressed in a wrongful death lawsuit are:
- Loss of the financial support the decedent provided
- End-of-life medical expenses
- Loss of insurance and pension benefits
- Loss of consortium
- Burial costs
What an Attorney Can Do for You
When you are injured or a family member dies due to negligence in a train accident, having an injury lawyer at your side is essential. Proving negligence in a common carrier accident can require a thorough investigation of the incident. An experienced attorney has the means and knowledge to do just that. Without this input, evidence may go by unnoticed, and witness testimony may be discarded. Also, an attorney will secure expert testimony that is invaluable in proving fault.
A Los Angeles Train Accident Law Firm That Fights for You
David Azizi is known as a lawyer who provides compassionate service to clients while aggressively securing the compensation they deserve. In addition to his experience and legal acumen, lawyer ranking services such as Super Lawyers have voiced their opinion of him as one of the top personal injury lawyers in L.A. on his commitment to his clients. Call David at (800) 991-5292 anytime to set up a free case review. David only charges his clients when he has won their case. Don’t wait for the time in which you can file to expire. Call David now and learn what he can do for you.