Mar 15, 2024

How Train Accidents Happen

Train Tracks

When a machine as massive as a train derails or collides with another vehicle, the resulting injuries and loss of life can be severe. The numbers are staggering: In 2018, there were 841 railroad deaths in the United States, or more than two per day. Although these figures pale in comparison with auto accidents, they’re nonetheless far too high. How do these incidents happen?

How Do Train Accidents Happen?

There are many reasons why trains end up in crashes:

  • Conductor Error: Despite advances in technology, the people who operate trains are just that — people. Humans are prone to distractions, may operate the train too fast, may fail to properly inspect the train before leaving the station, or may make another error in judgment. These potential dangers are exacerbated when the conductor is exhausted from having worked too many hours.
  • Speeding: As is the case with auto accidents, speeding is a major contributing factor to train accident-related injuries and fatalities.
  • Defective Parts: Trains are complex machines with many moving parts, all of which must be working in unison. If any piece of equipment fails, such as a rail switch, it can lead to a deadly accident.
  • Obstructions: Foreign objects inadvertently left on the tracks can cause a derailment.
  • Reckless Drivers: Impatient drivers may try to make it across the tracks before a train passes, only to cause a wreck.
  • Suicides: Sadly, suicide by train is a fairly common occurrence: There were 266 such instances in 2017 alone.

Types of Train Accidents

There are numerous types of railway accidents that may result from these circumstances:

  • Derailments: In a derailment, the train loses its place on the tracks. Oftentimes, this is the result of speeding as was the case in the infamous 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight people.
  • Colliding Trains: When two heavy machines are involved in a collision — especially at high speeds — the end result is often deadly.
  • Collisions With Cars: Some drivers, due to impatience and poor judgment, may try to cross the tracks when the gate is down.
  • Pedestrian Accidents: Distracted pedestrians may be struck by a train if they don’t hear or see the train in time before attempting to cross the tracks.
  • Collisions With Stationary Objects: Sometimes trains collide with stationary objects such as a stalled car or a piece of equipment left behind by a maintenance worker.

Contact a Train Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love was the victim in a train accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and other damages. From the railway company to the train conductor, there are many parties who may be liable in a train accident. It’s imperative that you have a highly skilled attorney on your side to investigate the cause of the accident and hold the responsible party accountable. Let Morgan & Morgan fight on your behalf to protect your rights and recover the damages you deserve. Contact us today by scheduling a free case evaluation.