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Train Accidents: What You Need To Know

Hiring a Qualified Train Accident Attorney

New Yorkers travel by train often. They take subways, commute from Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut for work and go to Vermont or travel in the region via Amtrak. Many New Yorkers actually prefer train travel as opposed to car. Train travel is generally safe, with 1,870 train accidents reported nationally in 2018 compared to more than 6 million reported motor vehicle crashes.

However, train accidents do happen, and when they do, the damage can be catastrophic. With the large numbers of passengers on trains in New York, disastrous accidents such as train crashes and derailments also tragically result in a much higher number of fatalities and injuries.

The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have recovered top compensation for clients hurt in serious accidents, including a $1.5 million settlement for a passenger injured in the 2016 Hoboken train crash. For a free legal consultation, please call 212-736-5300 or complete our online form. Our team has recovered well over $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements.

Injuries from Train Collisions, Derailment, and Other Train-Related Incidents

Train passengers and crew members can be killed or suffer significant injuries, including but not limited to:

  • Death
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Head trauma
  • Amputation
  • Broken limbs
  • Burns
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Aggravation of pre-existing health conditions
  • Blood loss
  • Severe cuts from shattered glass
  • Serious back pain
  • Hearing or eyesight loss

Recovery from such injuries can be slow, and many victims never fully recover. Adjustment to the change in lifestyle for the loved ones of victims can also be a very difficult process.

It is the responsibility of the respective transit authorities running the trains to ensure that you arrive at your destination safely. If you were injured in a serious train accident, it is important that you understand your legal options. You may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. Because every case is different, it’s important to consult an attorney with experience in such catastrophic events. The lawyer you choose needs to understand the laws governing railways and subways in your state.

Causes of Train Accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation groups train accident causes into five main categories:

  • Human factors
  • Track and structures
  • Equipment
  • Signal and train control
  • Miscellaneous

Of those accident causes, some of the most common include, but are not limited to:

  • Conductor and other personnel negligence
  • Improper train maintenance
  • Faulty machinery
  • Faulty lighting equipment
  • Other vehicles at railroad crossings
  • Track work dangers
  • Mechanical train failure
  • Icy surfaces on pedestrian platforms
  • Missing warning signs when undergoing work
  • Improper maintenance of buildings in the stations

Historically, the majority of accidents have been attributed to the human factors and track and structure categories. For example, fatigue, a human factor, is a major concern as train conductors and operators must be attentive and aware of their surroundings at all times. One of the most common accidents, derailments, can occur as a result of human inattention leading to rounding a turn too quickly or switching to the wrong track. Derailments accounted for 1,341 of the 1,870 train accidents that occurred in 2018, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. It is important that all transit authorities enforce safety standards to address the many factors that can contribute to train accidents, including employee fatigue.

On some occasions, train accidents can involve trucks, cars and even pedestrians. For instance, Block O’Toole & Murphy represented a good Samaritan who tried to rescue a tractor-trailer operator whose truck landing was stuck on a railroad crossing. His truck became stuck right in the middle of the tracks as a train was approaching. Our client, a nearby automotive worker, saw this and tried to valiantly come to the truck driver’s rescue. Unfortunately, he was unable to extract the driver in time and the train violently slammed into the truck with the driver inside and our client trying to pull the driver out. The impact and the consequences were life defining. We established that the Long Island Railroad train operator failed to follow safety guidelines, was inattentive and should have been able to stop the train in time had he been paying attention and applied the emergency brake in a timely fashion. We also proved that the truck operator and the company he worked for were responsible for this horrific crash.

Learn About Your Legal Options After a Train Accident

Due to the many factors that can contribute to a train accident, filing a lawsuit after a train crash can be complicated. The responsible party may not be immediately obvious. It could be the train crew, the manufacturer of the equipment, the maintenance contractor, the railroad company, the municipality that designed the tracks or a combination of all these among others. If you were injured in a train accident, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer right away so that a timely investigation can be started.

In many states, there is a timeline for filing a notice of claim against the negligent party. In New York, paperwork advising that you may bring a claim must be served and filed within 90 days after accrual in personal injury cases. This is called a “Notice of Claim.” Failing to file the Notice of Claim in a timely fashion may prevent an injured party from bringing a claim. While there are motions for this unforgiving time period to be extended, these decisions are extremely rare. In all likelihood, an untimely claim may result in you losing your right to bring one. Depending on where you are, you may have limited time to file a lawsuit – that is why it is important to speak with a highly knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Whatever the cause of their injuries, workers and passengers should learn about their rights and their legal options after an accident or a wrongful death. The railroad accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are experienced in counseling and representing clients in matters involving injuries from the following:

  • MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) subway trains
  • LIRR (Long Island Railroad) trains
  • Metro North trains
  • PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) trains
  • NJ Transit trains
  • Amtrak trains
  • Light rail trains
  • Freight trains

Whether you are a worker employed by the transit companies, a passenger on the train cars, or a pedestrian waiting at the stations, you are entitled to work and travel safety. In New York, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) covers railway workers, while subway laborers are protected under the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a number of federal and state laws also protect travelers who take the subway or railroad.

The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have extensive experience helping victims of train accidents. If you have been injured in a subway or train accident and would like more information on your options going forward, please contact the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy by calling 212-736-5300 or by filling out our online contact form.

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