What Was the Worst Train Disaster in History?

What Was the Worst Train Disaster in History?

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What Was the Worst Train Disaster in History?

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern Railway freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio in what many experts believe to be one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history. The Department of Transportation has not released the details describing why the Norfolk Southern freight train left the track to cause the derailment of dozens of cars carrying toxic chemicals. A controlled burn conducted under the supervision of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the carnage much worse. Both wild and domesticated animals are dying from the chemicals left behind in the air and water supplies.

The devastation left behind in East Palestine prompts many questions, one of which is what was the worst train disaster in history?

The Malbone train crash, which is considered the worst train crash in American history by many transportation experts, unfolded on November 1, 1918, in New York City. A packed-to-capacity Brighton Beach train sped through a tunnel under Malbone Street located in the NYC borough of Brooklyn. As the Brighton Beach train approached a curve, the train recorded a speed of 35 miles per hour, which represented a speed more than 5 times what the train should have traveled to safely navigate the relatively sharp curve in the tunnel. Because of the conductor’s negligence, the commuter train crashed, killing 102 people and injuring dozens more. The inexperienced 25-year-old conductor worked the shift because the regular conductors walked off the job to protest pay and working conditions.

If you sustained injuries and/or property damages as the result of a train accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in handling train accident cases. Your personal injury lawyer conducts an extensive investigation into the cause of the train accident, which should determine whether another party committed one or more acts of negligence. Gathering persuasive physical evidence, as well as interviewing witnesses to verify your account of events, form the foundation for submitting a successful insurance claim, and if warranted, a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

The personal injury lawyers at Morgan and Morgan have litigated personal injury cases for more than three decades. During that time, we have recovered more than $20 billion in compensation for our clients by negotiating settlements and winning favorable legal judgments. Morgan and Morgan filed a class action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern to help plaintiffs recover the financial losses caused by contracting debilitating illnesses. Our class action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern joins around a half dozen other class action lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the East Palestine Train derailment.

Learn more about how to join our class action lawsuit or file a separate civil lawsuit for a different train accident case by scheduling a free case evaluation today with a personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan.

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  • What was the Worst Train Disaster in the World?

    Rail travel remained a relatively new form of transportation at the start of World War I during the second decade of the 20th century. However, rail travel represented the primary mode of transportation for troops moving to and from the front lines of the war. During the height of World War I, a train carrying more than 1,000 passengers and consisting of 19 rail cars crashed in the Maurienne Valley of France. More than 800 passengers died as a result of the Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne incident, and the vast majority of the deceased victims were French soldiers.

    Over-packed cars combined with a steep grade caused all but three of the brake systems for each car to fail, which resulted in the rail cars becoming dislodged from the tracks and smashing into the countryside.

  • What Are the Most Common Causes of Train Accidents?

    The key to determining whether another party committed one or more acts of negligence that contributed to a train accident involves discovering what caused the train wreck. As the Maurienne Valley train crash indicates, more than one factor can cause a train to derail from the tracks.

    Human Error

    Human error played a pivotal role in both the Malbone Street and Maurienne Valley train accidents. An inexperienced conductor might not recognize the signs of danger, such as mechanical issues with the engine or problems with the braking systems of one or more rail cars. Human error includes using poor judgment, slowly reacting to unfolding events, and basing decisions on outdated operational guidelines. 

    Proving that human error caused a train wreck requires relying more on witnesses than physical evidence, although your attorney might be able to obtain physical evidence through a train’s computer monitoring system.

    Mechanical Failure

    Despite the physical evidence indicating human error played a role in causing the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not ruled out mechanical failure as the primary contributor to the crash. Railway companies assume full responsibility to ensure their trains contain fully functional mechanical parts. Trains operate under the configuration of hundreds of moving parts. Just one malfunctioning part can make a train vulnerable to derailing from the tracks.

    Inferior Track Maintenance and Monitoring

    Because of super-tight operating budgets, large stretches of American railway systems do not receive proper maintenance and monitoring. The Department of Transportation collaborates with privately-held railway companies to maintain railway tracks in good condition. However, poor communication combined with a lack of coordination can lead to the deterioration of a railway’s track infrastructure. Corroded tracks and degraded foundations represent the most glaring maintenance issues faced by railway companies and the Department of Transportation.

  • What Steps Should I Take After a Train Accident?

    If you become involved in a train accident, the intensity of the disaster can cause you to lose focus on how to handle yourself after the crash. If you get involved in a freight, commuter, or passenger train wreck, you should follow a few steps to help you build a strong enough case to receive compensation.

    Get Your Injuries Treated

    Since a train accident typically involves many people, the local emergency response system should activate shortly after the crash. The nearest law enforcement agency responds to the scene of the accident, as well as the local emergency medical team. If you sustained one or more serious injuries, you should receive immediate medical care to treat your injuries. On the other hand, you might feel healthy enough to remain at the scene of the train wreck to provide a statement to a responding law enforcement officer. If you remain at the accident scene, you should eventually seek medical attention to ensure you are in good health.

    Gather Physical Evidence

    After speaking with a law enforcement officer, you should take photographs of the accident scene, with a focus on the position of the derailed rail cars and the condition of the tracks located behind the train. Although the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) conducts a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the train accident, it can take months, if not more than a year, for the federal agency to release its findings. Taking photos of the crash scene gives your personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan a head start on an investigation. You also should obtain the names and contact information of witnesses to hand over to your lawyer during the free case evaluation.

    Meet With a Personal Injury Lawyer From Morgan and Morgan

    A railway company such as Norfolk Southern possesses the financial resources to fight aggressively against a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. This means you need a legal advocate to help you submit the most convincing personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney reviews two incident reports: One from the responding local law enforcement agency and the formal report released by the FRA. The FRA operates under the supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Both reports should describe in detail what transpired before, during, and after the train crash. However, your attorney places more emphasis on the findings released by the FRA report.

    A personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan also helps you file an insurance claim.

    Contact the Appropriate Insurance Company

    You should contact the appropriate insurance company after you meet with a personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan. If you contact the appropriate insurance company before you meet with a lawyer, the insurance company might try to take advantage of you by encouraging you to sign a waiver of liability without your knowledge. An unethical insurance adjuster might deny a valid claim or approve a claim for a value worth much less than what you deserve in compensation. Make sure your personal injury attorney contacts the appropriate insurance company.

  • How Does My Attorney Prove Negligence?

    All personal injury cases that involve the commission of one or more acts of negligence require the attorney representing the plaintiff to prove the presence of four elements.

    Duty of Care

    The duty of care doctrine states another party assumes legal liability to prevent you from getting sick or injured. For example, the owner of a convenience store has a duty of care to prevent customers and visitors from slipping and falling. Railway companies assume a duty of care to prevent accidents that harm passengers and residents of communities where they travel. Demonstrating a railway company owed you a duty of care represents the easiest element of negligence to prove.

    Breach of the Duty of Care Doctrine

    The railway company involved in a train accident must have committed one or more acts that breached the duty of care doctrine. For instance, if Norfolk Southern Railway failed to inspect the brake systems installed on every car before approving travel for the train that crashed in East Palestine, then Norfolk Southern Railway has committed an act that breaches the duty of care doctrine. Proving this element of negligence requires the collection of compelling physical evidence, as well as the statements provided by witnesses.

    Sustained Injuries or Developed an Illness

    Your personal injury attorney must show the judge hearing your case that the railway company involved in the accident caused you harm, whether the harm is sustaining one or more injuries or developing a serious illness. The team of lawyers representing the defendant might claim you sustained your injuries or developed an illness as the result of another event. Proving that a train accident, like the one in East Palestine, Ohio, caused you to develop an illness can be difficult, as it can take years for certain illnesses to display symptoms.

    Financial Losses

    The injuries you sustained or the illness that developed as the result of a train accident must generate financial losses. Copies of bank statements, timekeeping records, and medical bills represent the evidence you need to prove a train accident caused you to lose money. The journey starts to recover the financial losses sustained because of a train accident by scheduling a free case evaluation with Morgan and Morgan.

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