Trains and railways play a major role in the U.S. interstate transportation system, efficiently ferrying goods and people from one corner or the country to another. Every year in the U.S., freight trains transport nearly 3 billion metric tons of material, including everything from fruits and vegetables to petroleum products and metals. Passenger trains carry nearly 31 billion passengers across rails stretching from one coast to another.
Of course, to transport all those goods and people, trains must be especially powerful, and most trains comprise many tons of steel and iron with engines designed to move them at very fast speeds. With so many massive pieces of machinery crisscrossing the country every day, it’s no wonder train accidents are not uncommon – and their effects can be devastating. In fact, the rail safety organization Operation Lifesaver says, based on national transportation accident data, a motorist is 20 times as likely to die in a crash with a train as in an accident with another motor vehicle.
Many accidents occur at railway crossings where tracks traverse roads and highways, but others occur in rail yards, at stations and elsewhere along the tracks, and can include train-to-train collisions or single train accidents. Because the impact of train accidents can be so severe, accident victims often suffer injuries that require extensive and prolonged medical care with costs that can quickly surmount an average person’s savings and take a toll on their financial future.
Train accidents can occur for many reasons, most of which are due to negligence on the part of the railroad or train company of their employees. Some of the most common types of accidents are due to causes like:
The Federal Railroad Administration‘s Office of Safety Analysis reports that human factors are responsible for about 38 percent of railroad accidents, with track defects accounting for another 35 percent. Equipment defects lead to just over 12 percent of train accidents, signal defects cause almost 2 percent and other miscellaneous factors cause between 12 percent and 13 percent of all railroad accidents. The agency also reports over half of all railroad accidents occur at unprotected crossings, and more than 80 percent of railroad crossings lack the proper warning systems.
While some train accidents may cause only minor damage, because of the massive size and weight of today’s trains, nearly any type of train accident causes injuries that can have major and long-lasting repercussions. In addition to the costs of immediate care for injuries sustained in a railroad accident, most accident victims will have long-term medical costs for therapy, surgery and other ongoing interventions, and many will never return to their pre-accident quality of life. In addition to physical harm, train accidents can also cause significant emotional trauma, causing flashbacks, nightmares and other emotional distress in addition to pain and suffering. Some accident victims will find they are unable to return to work, resulting in a major setback in their finances.
Of course, there are laws that protect the rights of train accident victims, but navigating the legal processes required to file a claim – and to file it successfully – is a complex and arduous process even at the best of times, and doubly so when you’re already dealing with the consequences of an injury. It would be nice to think that a negligent party would step up and take financial responsibility for the damage caused by their carelessness. But that’s not the way with most businesses; they have their own financial interests to protect, and they’ll do all they can to diminish their own negligence and shift the cost burden to the victim.
The first step in collecting damages is demonstrating that the railroad company or its employees were in some way negligent, and that the negligence led to the accident that caused your injuries and financial losses. Unfortunately, even in the most straightforward cases, proving negligence is not easy, even for many skilled attorneys. Because train accidents typically involve big transportation corporations, it’s vitally important to work with an attorney who has experience in successfully handling train accident cases so you feel sure your rights are being protected throughout the course of your case.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metropolitan Rail Corporation (Metra) and other companies and agencies employ their own internal investigators to gather evidence and conduct investigations into the cause of elevated train and rail accidents. A successful resolution of your case demands equal attention and dedication to your “side” of the incident. At the Law Offices of Meyer & Blumenshine, our train accident lawyers are skilled in performing the in-depth research and evidence-gathering procedures necessary for establishing a strong case. Our attorneys work closely with each client, doing all they can to ensure the best possible outcome in every case.
If you’ve been injured in a train or elevated accident, you need to begin working with a train accident attorney right away. As a top-rated train accident law firm in Chicago, we know how to advocate for our clients. Call the Law Offices of Meyer & Blumenshine at (312)263-1000 or use our online contact form and schedule your free consultation today.