Washington, DC, and Maryland Train Accident Lawyer: Protecting Victims Rights
Every day in the United States, trains transport millions of people. When these trains—or the tracks upon which they travel—are not properly maintained, a serious, catastrophic accident is likely to occur. When a high-speed train must make a sudden, unplanned stop, passengers are often catapulted out of their seats. Those injured in train accidents often suffer lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
While train travel is one of the United States oldest methods of travel, the need for faster speeds paired with outdated infrastructure is a recipe for disaster. If you have experienced injury or lost a loved one due to train travel, reach out to a train accident lawyer right away.
Train Accidents: Main Causes
Justitia.com reports that more than 2,500 train accidents occur every year. According to the Federal Highway Administration, hundreds of people die and many more are injured in these accidents Among the causes:
- Mechanical failure that leads to an accident
- Inadequate security on the train
- Dated and unsuitably maintained tracks
- Conductor or engineering negligence
A train is considered a common carrier—meaning it is an entity that transports members of the public for a fee. Common carriers have a higher responsibility to safely transport the public by taking all necessary safety precautions to avoid any train accident. When a train accident occurs, an experienced train accident attorney can investigate and determine if the carrier is liable for the injuries sustained.
The Most Common Types of Train Accidents
The most common types of train accidents are:
- Collisions with other trains
- Collisions with passenger vehicles
- Single train accidents
Absent or inadequate warnings at railroad crossings may also contribute to collisions. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, more than half of all railroad accidents occur at unprotected crossings, and over 80 percent of railroad crossings do not include adequate warning devices.
Signal issues on the tracks also contribute to accidents. Early statistics for 2018 show 15 accidents for January-March caused by signal issues—a 15.4 percent increase of the same period in 2017 and a 36.4 percent increase during the period of 2015-2018.
The Federal Railroad Administration establishes the speed limits for trains. A variety of factors influence the speed limit, including the use of signals, track curvature, and the presence of any grade crossings. Federal Regulations establish classes of train track. The maximum speed limit for class five track, which is the standard high-speed rail track in the United States, is 80 miles per hour for freight and 90 miles per hour for passenger service.
Train engineers—like automobile drivers—often travel above the posted speed limit. The Federal Railroad Administration can immediately pull any engineer’s federal license if caught traveling 10 miles per hour above the posted maximum speed limit. Excessive speed adds extra stress to tracks and signal systems designed for lower speeds. Trains speeding above authorized speed limits place passengers at great risk for injury and possible death.
On the morning of December 18 of 2017, Amtrak train 501 departed Tacoma, Washington on its inaugural run providing high-speed service. The train derailed on an overpass, sending several of the 14 cars onto the highway below. Three people died and approximately 100 passengers were injured. A passenger who was on board the train when it derailed, said the emergency doors on the train were not functioning correctly after the crash and passengers had to kick out train windows to exit. The investigation into the derailment may take up to two years to complete—the accident is just one example of the dangers when high-speed passenger trains derail.
Uncovering the Truth
Identifying who is at fault is at the heart of each case. If a crossing arm doesn’t work, or a warning signal fails to sound, the railroad may be found negligent—meaning their failure to repair the crossing arm or ensure the sounding of an alarm places them at fault. If a bystander acts with negligence—such as driving around crossing arms blocking a crossing—then the bystander will likely be found at fault for a train accident. Some cases are more straightforward than others. Each case is different and requires a careful review by experienced train accident lawyers.
Experienced Train Crash Representation
At The Abelson Personal Injury Law Firm, we represent victims of train accidents. Train law and/or railroad accident law can be quite complicated. After a train accident has occurred, our firm can work with investigators to preserve evidence, interview witnesses, evaluate liability, and identify jurisdictional issues. We can help to protect you and your family during interviews with authorities and insurance representatives.
Our firm can also help determine if the railroad crossing was unreasonably dangerous and whether proper safety procedures were in place at the time of a train accident. The sooner you contact us after an accident, the more effective we may be. The longer it takes to begin an investigation, the more difficult it may be to locate and preserve the evidence and witnesses you may need to reconstruct the accident and prove who should face liability for your injuries.
Many factors may lead to a railroad accident, and many people might contribute to your injury, loss of income, or pain and suffering. While it is the responsibility of the railroad to maintain the tracks, crossings, and the train itself, truck and car drivers share a responsibility to follow the rules of the road.
The Abelson Law Firm is well-versed in the laws that govern the liability of railroads and other parties involved in train accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, let an experienced personal injury attorney help you preserve your rights and recover the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation about how The Abelson Law Firm can help you after a train accident, contact us today or call (202) 331-0600.