Railroad Accidents

We Have Experience With Railroad Accidents

Each year, more than 3,000 railroad accidents take place in the United States. In many cases, these accidents cause serious and even fatal injuries. Oftentimes, people who survive their injuries are forced into hospitals and have to go through long-term care.

Many railroad accidents occur each year in New York and New Jersey, often with devastating results. Railroad accident cases frequently involve complex laws and regulations. We understand these regulations and can help you whether you live in New York or New Jersey.

We have personally witnessed the negative impacts that train accidents have on victims and their families. Suffering disabling injuries can impact your ability to work, engage in activities you enjoy, and completely destroy your quality of life. At the law office of Metro Law, our attorneys will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding the accident to determine how it happened and who is at fault.

If you have been injured in a railroad accident, contact our law firm today to discuss your case and the legal options available to help you get justice.

Train Accident Statistics

Over the past decade, we have witnessed the negative impacts of train accidents on thousands of people across our country. In fact, the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that there have been more than 1,800 train accidents each year over the past decade. The most common type of accident is derailment. These account for nearly 1,300 total accidents annually.

Below is a look at how train accidents have impacted lives across the United States:

During 2016: A total of 2,050 train accidents occurred. 78 accidents were reported as collisions while 1,213 were derailments. These accidents left more than 853 people while taking the lives of 255 people.

During 2017: A total of 2,124 train accidents, including 81 collisions and 1,268 derailments, occurred during the year 2017. These accidents left nearly 846 people injured while taking the lives of 271 people.

During 2018: During this year, a total of 2,227 trail accidents took place. These accidents involved 86 collisions and 1,375 derailments. Train crashes during 2018 left more than 845 people injured while claiming the lives of 260 victims.

During 2019: During 2019, a total of 2,216 trail accidents took place. These crashes included more than 115 collisions and 1,283 derailments. Train accidents during 2019 claimed the lives of 293 people while leaving nearly 807 others injured.

Causes of Train Accidents

Thousands of accidents involving trains take place every year in the United States. The majority of these accidents involve cars, pedestrians, and other vehicles. When it comes to determining how a train accident occurred, it is crucial to analyze what took place.

In New York and New Jersey, we see these accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the leading causes of train accidents include:

  • Improper maintenance of the tracks
  • Mechanical failures/part defects
  • Negligent conductors (distractions, speeding, drowsiness, etc.)
  • Absent lights
  • Missing signals
  • Missing gates at crossing points

Over the years, several rail companies have come under scrutiny for having flawed safety policies and practices. Whatever the cause of your crash, it is crucial that you reach out to our New Jersey railroad accident lawyers as soon as possible. You need to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.

Types of Train Accidents

Train accidents can take place for a variety of reasons. As a result, there are various types of accidents that we see in the New York City area. Some of the most common types of train accidents in our area include:

Derailments: Derailment crashes are the leading cause of most damages and injuries. These accidents are often more tragic due to the fact that they are the most preventable type of collision involving trains. These accidents are often caused by drivers and conductors engaging in actions that deviate from standard safety protocols. Derailment crashes are often caused by overloaded freight cars, poor maintenance of tracks, having debris or objects on tracks, and faulty locomotives. When derailment accidents occur, passengers and objects can be thrown from the cars at high speeds. This can cause severe injuries and even death.

Railroad Crossing Accidents: Accidents commonly occur in areas where cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles cross over tracks. These accidents, referred to as railroad crossing accidents are often devastating for people involved and have a high probability of ending in catastrophic or fatal injuries. Railroad crossing accidents often occur when signs and gates are broken or missing. There are instances where tracks are blocked by trees and other objects, preventing drivers and other travelers from seeing trains on tracks before it is too late.

Collisions with Objects: There are cases where trains are involved in accidents with other trains, cars, and objects. These incidents often end in catastrophic injuries. Cars that attempt to go across railroads without having enough time can cause severe and tragic collisions. There are even instances where pedestrians attempt to run across tracks. Pedestrian accidents and motor vehicle accidents with trains are some of the most common and often the most devastating that we see.

Secondary Train Collisions: These accidents occur after other accidents take place. For example, there may be a crash on the tracks ahead between two trains or a train and a motor vehicle. Another train passing through the area may be unaware of the accident or unable to stop in time. As a result, the second train crashes into the wreckage. Traveling too fast for weather conditions, not seeing or hearing traffic control signals, and failing to give the correct coordinates can lead to these accidents taking place. There are also instances where bears, deer, and other animals wander onto tracks and cause crashes.

Train Accidents Caused by Human Error: There are many accidents caused by human error. When drivers attempt to cross tracks, conductors become distracted, or inexperience can cause serious accidents. In 2008, one of the most devastating train accidents in United States history occurred. This accident was caused by a conductor failing to stop a red light while traveling in a commuter train. As a result, the train collided head-on with a freight train. The crack took the lives of 25 people while leaving more than 130 others with injuries. Investigations ultimately found that the commuter train’s conductor was texting prior to the accident taking place.

If you have been injured in a train accident, you may have legal options available to help you recover financial compensation to help cover medical expenses and various other costs you face. There are strict timelines for notifying a railway company about your injuries and for filing a legal claim. Consulting with a skilled personal injury lawyer in New Jersey can ensure you are able to protect your legal rights.

Causes of Derailment Accidents

The leading type of train wreck we see in both New York and New Jersey is derailment accidents. These accidents take place for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of derailments include:

  • Employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Overworked conductors
  • Not performing adequate maintenance on the trains
  • Not performing adequate rail maintenance
  • Not providing proper training to railroad workers
  • Not hiring qualified workers
  • Conductors and other rail employees who use cell phones while performing various work-related tasks
  • Not adequately maintaining equipment
  • Using defective and malfunctioning equipment
  • Speeding
  • Malfunctioning railroad-crossing mechanisms (safety arms, lights, gates, etc.)

Regardless of the cause of your accident, it is crucial that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Should you suffer injuries as a result of a train accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our team can review your accident, help identify all contributing factors, and hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

Federal Employers Liability Act

Under FELA, if the injury to the employee was not caused by the employer’s negligence, then there can be no recovery for pain and suffering. However, the employer is still responsible for paying the employee’s medical bills and a percentage of his or her lost wages. This is called maintenance and cure.

One unfortunate aspect of FELA is that if the injured worker reaches maximum cure, the employer needs to no longer pay for his or her medical bills. In other words, if medical bills are purely for palliative treatment (that is, to treat pain) rather than providing functional improvement, the employer can cut off benefits. If the employer was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, disfigurement, future pain and suffering, lost wages, and all medical bills.

For example, if there is no cure for an employee’s back pain and the patient is functionally as good as he or she will get, then paying for prescriptions to alleviate pain will be the responsibility of the employee, not the employer. It’s unfair, but it’s the law. The only way to force an employer to pay for palliative treatment is if we can prove the employer was negligent or did not provide a safe place to work. If there is a dispute regarding whether treatment is palliative, the court will generally rely on the word of your treating physician.

Injured Railroad Workers Have Legal Rights Too

FELA provides that railroad companies owe employees specific duties. These include:

  • Providing workers with a reasonablysafe work environment.
  • Providing safety devices and equipment for employees.
  • Providing employees with adequate training and assistance to ensure they are able to safely and accurately perform their job.
  • Ensuringrailroad workers are safe from any intentional acts of violence committed by other workers and/or passengers.
  • Preventing unreasonable and unrealistic work quotas that endanger employees.
  • Enforcingsafety rules, regulations, and other mandates.

Workers who are harmed are able to file FELA claims. These claims differ greatly from workers’ compensation claims. This type of claim is designed to more closely resemble personal injury cases filed in New York and New Jersey. Under FELA, employees must successfully prove that the railroad company acted negligently. Doing so provides injured workers with the ability to recover compensation for various economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Decreased earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past, current, and anticipated medical expenses
  • Permanent disability pay

Essentially, if the employer was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, disfigurement, future pain and suffering, lost wages, and all medical bills. If the employer was not negligent, then you are entitled to maintenance and cure; that is payment of medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages until you have reached a state of maximum medical improvement.

Claimants have up to three years from the date of their accident to file FELA claims. However, waiting can negatively impact your ability to get justice. Working with a skilled railroad accident lawyer in New Jersey at Metro Law can help you get justice.

Contact Us

Metro Law is committed to helping each victim we work with understand their legal rights. We are available to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the potential legal options available to you as a victim of a train accident. Our team will analyze your accident, identify everything that went wrong, and go after those who are responsible.

The New Jersey train accident injury lawyers at Metro Law have the knowledge and expertise to answer your questions after your railroad accident. Call 973-344-6587 for a free consultation.