Follow the news regularly, and chances are, you’ll hear about train accidents fairly often. Although commuting by train is safer than driving to work, railway accidents are anything but uncommon. In fact, there were 841 lives lost in train accidents in the United States in 2018 alone. It’s natural, then, to wonder, why do these accidents happen? Who is to blame?
Who Is to Blame for Train Accidents?
Railway accidents may be the result of many factors:
- Human Error: An inexperienced train conductor is more likely to make a mistake than a seasoned veteran, but a lack of experience isn’t the only factor that leads to human error. Fatigue also plays a significant role, as operators are less likely to perform their job safely when they’re exhausted. Extreme fatigue — often the result of overwork — can lead to a lapse in judgement and slow reaction time.
- Speeding: As was the case in the tragic Philadelphia Amtrak derailment in 2015, speeding trains can have deadly outcomes. Just as auto accidents are more likely to occur at high speeds, the same holds true for train accidents.
- Mechanical Failure: Even if the operator follows safety protocols, train accidents can result from mechanical failure. Despite the railway’s best efforts to maintain the infrastructure and operating systems trains rely on, accidents do happen.
- Reckless Drivers and Pedestrians: In some cases, the train operator or company may not be at fault. Instead, reckless or distracted drivers and pedestrians may be liable if they attempt to cross the tracks with the train approaching.
- Unprotected Crossings: Unprotected crossings are common across America. They lack proper warning devices such as gates and lights that could prevent tragic accidents.
- Obstructions: Foreign objects on the tracks, including equipment and parked vehicles, may be left in the path of an oncoming train. If the conductor doesn’t spot the obstruction quickly enough — or if visibility is poor — they may not be able to stop the train in time.
- Suicides: Some people choose to take their lives by standing on the tracks or jumping in front of an oncoming train. Sadly, this is a fairly common occurrence: There were 266 suicides by train in 2017.
Who Is Legally Responsible for Train Accidents?
There are many parties who may be liable for these accidents: the railway company, conductor, equipment manufacturer, parts supplier, or even a government agency that failed to take steps to keep the railway safe. Perhaps there was a faulty crossing arm, a failure on the part of the railway to implement critical safety features, or an overworked employee who was pushed past their limit. No matter the case, a railway accident lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can thoroughly examine the circumstances surrounding your accident to determine who was at fault and what damages you might be eligible to receive.
Contact Morgan & Morgan
If you were in a train accident, Morgan & Morgan may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact us to discuss your options: Schedule a free case evaluation to get started.