Train Accident Attorneys in Columbia, SC
Train accidents and the resulting injuries can be very complex. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury in a train accident, call an experienced Columbia train accident lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today.
Railroads and railroad operators, like any other mode of transportation, have a responsibility to conduct their operations safely to protect drivers and others from injury. There are over 600 railroads with about 130,000 miles of track across the United States. With these kinds of numbers, railroad accidents happen often. These accidents can happen at railroad crossings with other vehicles, derail completely from the tracks, or have equipment failures. These accidents can be serious and even fatal.
Typical Causes of Accidents on Railroads
The cause of a train accident must be determined. Train accidents can happen when two trains collide with each other or when a train collides with a car or truck at a railroad crossing.
When a train leaves the track or tips over, this is referred to as a derailment. Faulty tracks or equipment and train operator’s negligence can all contribute to a derailment. As with any mode of transportation, the weather can also contribute to a derailment accident. Many accidents happen at railroad crossings. A car, truck, or SUV may rush across the tracks in hopes of beating the train, but this type of reckless decision can be catastrophic or deadly.
Some common causes of train accidents include:
- Train conductor error. Traveling too fast, running through a red signal, or being distracted can be part of an error by an engineer.
- Colliding into other trains
- A train versus car accident in Columbia
- Mechanical issues. A malfunction can occur for many reasons, including a defective train part, a broken crossing gate at an intersection, and improper notification signals.
- Track Defects. Derailments are commonly caused by problems with the track. The railroad should ensure that the track is working properly. The track can be worn down, warped or broken, causing deformity.
- Signal problems. If an engineer is not alerted that another train is coming, there can be devastating consequences.
- Unmarked railroad crossings. Many railroad crossings do not have the necessary warning devices installed. These devices, including crossing lights and crossing gates, if installed, may not activate as they should. Many train accidents are due to faulty crossings.
Likely Train Accident Injuries
Because trains are such enormous vehicles, a collision with another vehicle or person can be fatal. Depending on the situation, there can be serious or fatal injuries. According to Forbes, a person or vehicle is hit every 3 hours in the United States. Common injuries resulting from a train accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury: These types of injuries range from concussions to severe comas. TBIs can lead to headaches, physical ailments, and speech issues. There can also be mental and emotional complications, but in many cases the results are fatal.
- Spinal cord damage: Injuries to the spinal cord can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Burns: Explosions are a concern in any train collision. Burns of any type can result in permanent scarring.
- Crushing: Heavy objects, like falling objects or train parts, can come crashing down on an individual causing injuries that may require extensive medical treatment.
- Back injury: As with many accidents, back injuries can be a common injury in a train accident.
Liability in Columbia Train Accidents
There are several different entities that can be liable for train accidents, including:
- Railroad companies: A railroad company can be held accountable if it does not perform the necessary and required maintenance. This claim would also encompass whether the company practices poor driver training procedures or if the appropriate measures were not taken prior to the collision.
- Train engineers: An engineer may be negligent as well. In the event he or she performs unsafe actions, like disregarding safety protocols, he or she could be liable for the collision. This would especially be true if the engineer was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Train car manufacturers: The manufacturer may also be liable if any equipment on the train malfunctions.
- Track maintenance companies: If broken or poorly-maintained tracks led to the cause of the collision, the maintenance company could be liable.
- Crossing gate and light signal companies
- Drivers and pedestrians: If a driver tries to beat the train and goes around the railroad gates, a collision between the driver’s vehicle and the train could result. The driver’s decision to disregard the safety gate could be found to be a contributing factor to the collision and may result in
How Are Railroads Regulated?
In the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulates the enforcement of rules and regulations on railroads. When any accident resulting in injuries occurs, the railroad must complete a Form 55A. There will then be formal investigations into the collision and the acts leading up to the collision. Some railroad companies are known to have more accidents than others, but each of them falls under the responsibility of the FRA.
Columbia Railroad Accident Evidence
Immediately following an accident, seek medical attention. Sometimes, the injuries will not show symptoms until many hours later, sometimes days. It is imperative that you seek medical care immediately. It is invaluable to obtain your medical records as evidence in the event you seek legal action in the future. Preserve any other evidence you may have. For instance, take photos of the scene after the accident. The records you keep and that will be forthcoming in a train accident investigation may be key to proving what happened, who may be at fault, and where the liability ultimately falls. An experienced Columbia Train Accident Lawyer can help with the evidence.
Some examples of evidence are:
- Video recordings. It is common that railroad companies install recording equipment in the front of trains.
- Audio. Radio communication between the engineers and the operations department can help in relaying important information. It can also help them prepare for any emergency issues that may arise while the train is in motion. These types of communications are often recorded.
- Event data recorder (EDR). This is comparable to the black box found in many aircraft. It records and preserves information like: the speed of the train, whether the brakes or horn were used, and any other information.
- Dispatch records. Communication between dispatch officers and engineers ensures that collisions are avoided. These communications are also kept in very detailed records to show the dispatch officers are monitoring specific trains.
Wrongful Death Resulting From a Train Accident
A wrongful death claim may be filed in the event a loved one dies from a train accident. The Personal Representative of your loved one’s estate may be able to file a claim on behalf of your loved one. Surviving spouses and children are allowed to recover compensation under the wrongful death statute in South Carolina. An experienced Columbia Train Accident Lawyer can help with the estate
Can I Sue If My Loved One Was Killed In A Columbia Train Accident?
Many times, if your loved one is killed in a train accident, filing a wrongful death action is necessary. Depending on the relationship between you and the decedent, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. It can be devastating to lose a loved one in a catastrophic accident, but it’s even more difficult to handle to learn it could have been prevented. A wrongful death claim ensures that there is accountability for the ones that are responsible for your tragic loss.
Wrongful death cases are challenging to navigate on your own. Reaching out to an experienced wrongful death attorney can be very helpful. If you have lost a loved one to a train accident, contact an experienced Columbia Train Accident Lawyer the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation.
Columbia Train Accident Compensation
Under South Carolina law, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if you are involved in a train accident. However, each case is different and many factors can affect the compensation you may receive. You may receive compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, both current and future
- Loss of Income, both current and future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- And More
Devastating injuries or losing a loved one can be the unfortunate result of a train accident. The speed of the train, the safety precautions, and proper procedures are what keep other motorists safe. When engineers are distracted and mechanisms fail, there can be deadly consequences. Contact a personal injury lawyer today if you traveled on a train that crashed or you lost a loved one at the hands of a negligent engineer.
Should I Give A Statement To Or Settle With The Insurance Company?
Simply put, no. The insurance company and its adjusters will try to settle claims as quickly as possible for the lowest amount possible. Accepting a quick settlement offer may seem helpful for the immediate financial stress of dealing with piling medical expenses, but it will likely not cover your future medical expenses. A quick settlement is never the best course of action in a train accident claim.
Discuss Your Claim With a Columbia Train Accident Attorney
Train accidents are scary, tragic, and often catastrophic. After experiencing such a horrific collision, you must seek legal representation. Pete Strom and the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm are available to discuss your case with you and represent you through the painstaking milestones of these heart-wrenching cases. Call us today at (803) 252-4800 to schedule your free consultation. We are eager to answer your questions and assist you in understanding your options.