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Train Accidents: By the Numbers

Train Tracks

If you ride the train to and from work every day, you may be accustomed to inconvenience: Delays, cancellations, crowded train cars, and loud passengers often feel like the norm for commuters. But you probably don’t think much about the possibility of a train accident. After all, trains are supposed to be a far safer mode of transportation than driving. The worst-case scenario, you might think, is sitting next to a passenger who is speaking loudly on the phone — not getting injured or losing your life in a derailment or collision.

Unfortunately, the reality is, train accidents are quite common. Because these vehicles are so massive and carry such momentum, the end result is often tragic. Exactly how frequent are railroad accidents? How many lives do they claim? And what can you do if you or someone you love is a victim?

Train Accident Statistics

There are many types of train accidents — derailments, colliding trains, crashes with automobiles, and struck passengers, to name a few — but they’re all extremely dangerous. The National Safety Council compiles statistics on train accidents. Here’s what you should know.

  • There were 841 railroad deaths in 2018, a 2% increase from the year before.
  • There were more train accident fatalities in 2018 than in any year since 2007.
  • In 2018, there were 8,136 nonfatal injuries, an 8% decrease from a year prior.
  • Fatalities at railway crossings decreased by nearly 3% from 2017 to 2018, but fatalities involving other types of incidents increased by 5%.
  • Passengers aren’t the only victims in these accidents: There were 17 employees killed on duty in 2018, more than a 50% increase from a year prior.
  • Approximately 10% of railroad injuries occur at rail crossings. There were five passenger deaths in 2018, a 44% decrease from 2017.
  • Injuries and illnesses are about 10 times more likely to occur than fatalities.

Who Is to Blame for These Accidents?

It’s reasonable to expect that you’ll get on and off the train without incident, but as the numbers above illustrate, train accidents happen frequently. You might be wondering, what causes these accidents?

In many cases, human error is to blame. Inexperienced and overworked operators are prone to mistakes and lapses in judgment. In other situations, such as the Philadelphia Amtrak derailment in 2015, speeding was the culprit. Just like auto accidents, train collisions and derailments are more likely to take place at high speeds. In some cases, mechanical failure may be to blame. An operator may do everything right when operating the train but wind up in an accident due to a faulty operating system or broken part.

Contact a Train Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love was the victim in a railroad accident, you may be able to collect significant compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other damages. From the railroad company to the train conductor, there are many parties who may be liable. A Morgan & Morgan attorney can help you get to the bottom of it. Schedule a free consultation today to get started.