However, if a vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian fails to observe crossing safety standards, or chooses to cross the railroad in non-designated areas, then the company is rarely responsible for any injury that is caused. In fact, the motorist could be liable to train occupants for an accident in such situations.
In addition to crossing accidents, derailments can be caused by various factors. If the cargo weight loaded onto the train is excessive or improperly loaded, the train can be susceptible to derailing. Additionally, poorly maintained and obstructed tracks pose a serious threat, especially when trains are traveling at high speeds. Operator error can also be to blame for derailments. Failing to observe the proper speeds can put train passengers and nearby people, vehicles, and buildings at serious risk.
Who Can I Obtain Compensation from After a Train Wreck?
Establishing responsibility in the wake of a train accident can be complicated and will depend on the factors that caused the accident. If it is found that the parties involved in a train accident have been negligent, any or all of the responsible parties could be liable for covering your expenses as a victim. These parties could include:
- Railroad Company – The company responsible for the train’s operation, no matter the cargo, could be held responsible for accidents as a result of failing to ensure the safe operation of the locomotive and railcars.
- Track Owner – In some cases, the company that owns the railroad tracks is not the same company that owns and operates the train. The track owner could be held liable if problems with the railroad itself caused the crash.
- Track Maintenance Company – Safety issues involving improper maintenance and repair of train tracks can cause derailments or accidents due to obstructions.
- A County or City – In some rare instances, the municipality in which the train track is located can be held responsible for an accident. This is most common when the streets surrounding railroad crossings are not properly maintained.
- Train Designer and Manufacturer – If the train was poorly designed, wasn’t properly tested, or was built with defective parts, the company responsible could be held liable for the damage their negligence causes.
Train Accident Settlements
If you have been involved in an accident with a train, the amount of compensation that you may be eligible to receive will vary depending on your relationship with the responsible party. The railroad’s duty of care to accident victims varies for train car passengers, motor vehicle occupants, or pedestrians.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, a lawyer can help you choose the best path forward. Train companies that are looking to avoid publicity may prefer to settle out of court. In many cases, an out-of-court settlement is also in the best interest of the accident victim, as it can expedite the process and allow families to receive the compensation that they need.
In some instances, train accident victims may stand to gain much more from the liable party if a jury weighs in on the accident. An attorney at the Stewart Law Offices can help you figure out what is best for you in the aftermath of a train accident.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Train Accident
After a train accident, the most important thing is your health and safety. If you have sustained serious injuries and need medical treatment of any kind, make sure you get to the hospital. To the best of your ability, be clear about how your injuries occurred when talking to your healthcare provider.
Once you’ve secured the emergency medical help that you need, contact an attorney to work on your behalf. Many train accidents cause serious injuries. Of the 1,344 recorded accidents that occurred in South Carolina over a 10-year period, SCDOT reported that 1,056 people suffered injuries, 154 of which were fatal. This sampling indicates that well over half of the train accident victims reported injuries, and over 1 in 8 people died as a result of being involved in a train accident.
Railroad companies understand the significant costs associated with liability for accidental injuries and deaths, and they hire skilled legal teams with plenty of resources to defend them from claims. Their lawyers fight to make sure that they protect the companies’ interests at all costs, which is exactly why you need the skilled legal representation of your own. An experienced team of train accident attorneys can fight tirelessly on your behalf to make sure that you pursue the compensation that you need to move forward.
If you receive any calls from a railroad company’s insurance adjuster or lawyer, you can decline the call and refer them to your attorney. The company may try to put you directly in touch with their legal team to answer questions, but you should always consult with your lawyer before speaking with anyone.
Speak with Our Train Accident Lawyers Today
The attorneys at the Stewart Law Offices understand the serious challenges that victims of railroad accidents face. Coping with the physical and financial challenges of an injury can seem impossible when you don’t have the resources you need. Our lawyers appreciate this, which is why we apply our legal experience to the benefit of accident victims.
When we fight for you, we do not accept payment unless we are able to secure financial compensation for you*. Legal representation should not be another financial burden for you, so we make sure you have one less worry. If you have been involved in an accident, don’t wait to find out how you could benefit from legal representation. Call us today or contact us online for a free claim review.