The train transportation industry is one of the backbones of the American economy, carrying millions of tons of goods and cargo across the United States from manufacturers to consumers in every corner of the country.
However, trains can present numerous public safety threats to drivers, pedestrians and residents of communities adjacent to train tracks and railroad yards.
Train accidents continue to seriously injure and kill thousands of Americans each year. In 2010, there were 8,232 non-fatal train accidents and 693 fatal train accidents resulting in 727 deaths in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.
Of these accidents, more than 70 percent resulted from derailments, with human error and track defects being the leading causes of the derailments.
Where a train accident does not result in fatalities, accident victims often experience serious bodily injury, to include multiple bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
Parties that could be held accountable for catastrophic train accidents may include:
- The train transportation company if employee negligence may have caused the accident;
- The train company or the road construction company responsible for installing and properly maintaining adequate warning signage and safe railroad crossings;
- The rail line manufacturer or company responsible for maintaining rail lines where a train derailed as a result of faulty rail lines;
- Manufacturers of rail cars where rail car content spillage results from derailed or damaged train cars; and
- Auto manufacturers where a defective automotive component caused the victim’s vehicle to stall or become stuck on the train track.
Hazards to Communities: Train Derailments and Spills
Communities living in areas where trains pass through are at higher risk of catastrophic train accidents, which result in the spillage of hazardous or toxic materials. In 2010, there were 21 train accidents where hazardous material was spilled from derailed or damaged rail cars, which required at least 1,682 people to be evacuated from their homes, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
On January 6, 2005, two Norfolk Southern trains collided in Graniteville, South Carolina, as a result of a faulty rail switch. The collision ruptured a train car, which spilled 90 tons of chlorine gas, creating a huge toxic cloud over the community. Nine people died as a result of the accident and the release of the toxic gas. Within a mile of the crash site, 5,400 residents were forced to evacuate to allow officials to clean up the spill and decontaminate the affected area.
Injured Rail workers
Railroad workers continue to face significant on-the job dangers to their health and well-being. In 2010, 17 railroad workers were killed and 4,220 were injured in on-the-job railroad accidents. Work on the railroad can be grueling and hazardous. Rail workers continue to be hurt and killed from various work situations, to include human error, collisions, switching and hooking up rail cars, repairing faulty switches, and falling rail car contents.
While railroad workers may have the opportunity to receive compensation for their injuries through the worker’s compensation claims process, any settlement is likely to constitute only a fraction of the worker’s former wages. Further, a settlement or judgment may not cover all of the worker’s medical bills.
As an injured worker, it is important to have an effective and experienced advocate like the Gilbert Law Group on your side to investigate, litigate, and resolve your claims.
Railroad companies have an obligation to block access to areas that they know or should know are attractive places for children to play and explore. Indeed, trains, railroads, and rail yards have captured the imagination of children for much of the last 150 years.
In 2010, 432 adults and children were killed in accidents while trespassing on railroad land. Another 3,804 individuals were injured when trespassing on railroad land.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, owners may be liable for damages to children who are hurt or killed when they are able to enter into dangerous areas that the owner did not properly secure or take adequate measures to attempt to secure.
Each year, children are killed or sustain serious bodily injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, as a result of business owners’ failure to protect children. Parents and families of injured children deserve accountability to ensure that they are adequately compensated for the extensive long-term costs associated with caring for a seriously injured child as they grow and develop.
Contact us to notify The Gilbert Law Group about your case, or call us toll free at 1-877-431-4529 to discuss your matter. All initial consultations are free.