Train Accident Attorney in South Carolina
South Carolina train accident lawyers know that when trains are involved in a collision, they can have serious and deadly consequences.
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. Accidents can happen at railroad crossings, with other vehicles, due to derailment, or equipment failures. These accidents are very dangerous and can even prove fatal.
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 South Carolina train accident lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today.
Typical Causes of Accidents on Railroads
It is imperative you determine the cause of the train accident. The majority of serious injuries reported following train accidents are usually caused by derailments, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. It could be a case where two trains collide with each other, or 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. Contributing factors to derailments include the track, equipment, and the operator’s negligence. As with any mode of transportation, the weather can also contribute. Many accidents happen at railroad crossings. A smaller motor vehicle may rush across the tracks in hopes of beating the train, but this behavior is risky to every passenger in the car and those merely walking by.
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
- A train versus truck accident
- 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 and severe injuries. Per an article in Forbes, across the country, a person or vehicle is hit by a train 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.
- Back injury: As with many accidents, back injuries can be a common injury in a train accident.
- Crushing: Heavy objects, like falling objects or train parts, can come crashing down on an individual requiring extensive medical treatment.
Liability in Train Accidents
There are several different entities that can be liable in a train accident, 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 they perform unsafe actions, like disregarding the safety protocol, they could be liable for the collision. This would especially be true if the driver 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 disrepair of the tracks has led to the cause of the collision, the company responsible could be liable.
- Crossing gate and light signal companies
- Drivers and pedestrians: If a driver tries to beat the train and go around the railroad gates, this could be a contributing factor and putting fault on the other driver.
How Are Railroads Regulated?
In the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulates the enforcement of rules and regulations on railroads. When an 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 crash. Some railroad companies are known to have more accidents than others, but each of them falls under the responsibility of the FRA.
South Carolina Railroad Accident Evidence
If you are injured following an accident, immediately seek medical attention. Sometimes, the injuries will not present right away. 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.
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 horns 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 may be allowed to recover compensation under the wrongful death statute in South Carolina.
Can I Sue If My Loved One Was Killed In A 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 challenging to learn; it could have been prevented. A wrongful death claim ensures 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 South Carolina Train Accident Lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation.
South Carolina 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 South Carolina Train Accident 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 try to settle claims quickly and often for less than the full amount. Accepting a quick settlement offer may seem helpful for the immediate financial stress of dealing with piling medical expenses, but may 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 South Carolina Train Accident Lawyer
Train accidents are often catastrophic. After experiencing such a horrific collision, you must seek legal representation. Pete Strom and the South Carolina train accident lawyers 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.