Train Accidents: Statistics, Causes, and Liability

This week, a LIRR train crashed into a bumping rock and left over 100 passengers injured. Because of this, we are taking a more in-depth look in regards to train accident statistics, why they occur, and who can be held liable. Train accidents are always serious, sometimes causing serious accident and a terrifying aftermath. Between 2004 and 2013, the Federal Railroad Administration found that 43 total deaths occurred due to catastrophic train accidents. Looking at it from a bigger view, these numbers are actually quite low because even the Long Island Rail Road itself sees about 290,000 riders a week. However, knowing that many of these accidents are preventable puts things into perspective.

You may be surprised to find that, every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. In fact, crossing incidents account for 32% of all rail-related accidents. Many of the common causes include derailments, mechanical failure, human error, distracted pedestrians, track issues, suicides, and so much more. In 2014 alone, the FRA saw an increase in train-related accidents with over 11,000 happening at railroad crossings that year alone! Many people in motor vehicles believe that they can “beat” the train at railroad crossings and unfortunately fall short. Another one of the biggest causes of these accidents happens when there are maintenance violations or trains are not properly inspected.

Liability for Common Carriers 

A common carrier are entities that transport members of the public for a fee, such as trains. Although those running the train cannot absolutely guarantee a passenger’s safety, they must exercise a duty of care to the passengers. Because of this, if a passenger is injured and finds fault, they could possibly recover compensation from a company. Some of the compensatory damages a victim in a train accident might collect include medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering from the traumatic experience. In many locomotives nowadays, there is something known as a “Black Box” that records specific information such as the train’s speed, which direction it was traveling, if the brakes were used, and its horn signal. These may be important aspects that you would need for your case. Call us today at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi if you have been injured in a catastrophic train accident and want to recover for your injuries.