Train Accidents Lead to Serious Personal Injury or Death in South Carolina
Railway transportation serves an important purpose in the United States. Trains provide transportation to passengers and help move goods and products through commerce. The $60 billion US railroad transportation industry moves more freight than any other railway worldwide. Trains also serve a number of public benefits including reducing road congestion and corresponding accidents, fuel consumption and emissions, and infrastructure maintenance costs.
Despite serving clear benefits, trains also carry risk. In the event of a train accident, catastrophic injury and death is likely to occur. According to the US Department of Transportation, approximately 5,800 vehicle train accidents occur each year in the United States, accidents which typically occur at railroad crossings. Each year, train accidents kill 600 people and injure an additional 2,300. Common injuries sustained in a train accident include traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, injuries which can result in a lifetime of continued medical treatment, paralysis, and even death.
Immediately following a train accident, a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) investigator will likely be dispatched to the scene assess the damage, collect evidence, and determine the likely cause of the accident. You can also expect that the company who owns the train involved in the accident will be on the scene too. If you’ve been injured in a train accident, you should consult an attorney to make sure that your right to fair compensation is protected.
Immediately following a train accident, you should:
- Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. The sheer size, weight, and force generated by a train in motion will cause catastrophic damage when it comes into contact with a vehicle, truck or SUV and/or derails. According to operation lifesaver, when a train hits a car, the impact is the same as a car hitting a soda can-it’s no contest. Accordingly, if you are injured in a train accident, it is important that you immediately seek medical attention for yourself and anyone else injured in the accident.
- Document the accident scene. If you are able, take pictures to document the scene. Be sure to include pictures of the warning signals and/or arm guards. You should also take pictures of any trees or foliage lining the track which may have limited your vision or prevented you from being able to see an oncoming train. If you are able, you should also write down the names and contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
- Do not make any statements. In the minutes following a train accident, there is likely to be chaos and confusion. Be very careful with any statements that you make. Do not admit fault or say I’m sorry. Even what seem to be an innocuous statement may impact your ability to recover.
- Consult with, and retain, a South Carolina train accident attorney. The train company will send a representative to the scene immediately after the accident to investigate and determine the likely cause of the accident. You need experienced representation to assist you as well. If you’ve been injured, you can expect to hear from an insurance company. It’s extremely important that you refrain from making any statements without the presence of your attorney. If retained early enough, the Strom Law Firm will conduct our own investigation at the scene of the train accident so that we can collect the necessary evidence needed to determine liability.
Securing Compensation for South Carolina Train Accident Victims
The Strom Law Firm Helps Victims Injured in a Train Accident. Depending upon the nature and extent of your injuries, you can expect to receive reimbursement for your medical bills, any lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Each case is fact specific. If you want to learn more about your rights, call us today (803) 252-4800 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out the free case consultation form here. Retaining an attorney should be considered immediately after the accident. You deserve experienced representation on your side. Any statements that you make to an insurance adjuster can impact your ability to recover. Let us do the heavy lifting while you focus on getting better.
Establishing Liability in a Train Accident
Below is a list of common problems which may lead to a train accident:
- Crossings that are obstructed by vegetation or other objects.
- Limited visibility on the part of drivers or train operators.
- The negligent actions of train operators, including approaching a train crossing without their lights on and horn sounding or operating at high speeds.
- Unsafe train conditions, including failure to properly maintain the train, machinery or train parts sticking out, over-sized loads, and crossings that rely only on signs or lights and do not have working safety arms.
- Failure of local safety officials, trucking company operators, or others to warn the railroad operator when a vehicle is stuck on the tracks.
What You Can Expect From Our Firm
Depending upon how quickly we are retained, we can send an investigator to the scene of the accident to record information which may be critical to your case. To make it easier, the Strom Law Firm is more than willing to travel to you to meet and discuss the facts of your case. When you meet with us, we will assess your situation, explain the legal process as well as what you can likely expect, and secure your permission to order relevant medical records and bills necessary to begin constructing your case. While we will certainly work with the adjuster assigned to your case, if we cannot negotiate a favorable resolution on your behalf, we can file a formal lawsuit to protect your best interest, and if necessary, proceed with a jury trial. Depending upon the situation, in the event of a wrongful death claim, we may be able to assist with securing the appointment of a personal representative to the estate of your loved one.
When a Train Accident is the Fault of the Train, Not the Driver
Although many train/car collisions each year are caused by negligence, many more can be caused by negligence on the part of train company operators or train engineers. Train accidents are often the result of the railroad’s neglect (such as poor maintenance of trains or track) or the negligence of the operator. Derailments, sudden stops, jolts, and speeding all lead to serious injuries and even death.
Often the train accident could have been avoided. It is the responsibility of the railroad track operator to replace broken or damaged tracks, and the responsibility of the train’s engineer to keep the train moving at a safe and responsible speed. When a train derails, the train is often going too fast for conditions.
Our South Carolina train accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, pain and suffering, and any claim for wrongful death in the event of a fatal train accident. Our free consultation can help you determine what next steps you should take. 803.252.4800
Tips for Avoiding an Accident at a Railroad Crossing
- Look both ways – safety lights and rails at train crossing may not be functional, so keep an eye out for an oncoming train.
- Never try to beat a train across the tracks or go around railroad safety arms.
- Do not stop on train tracks. If the tracks are behind a stop light, stop with the tracks in front of you, or with enough clearance behind you.
- Never assume that a train track is not in use – always check your surroundings at railroad crossings for an oncoming train
- Report railroad safety features that are not working properly, such as defective safety arms
- Watch for second trains, especially when you must drive across multiple sets of train tracks.
- If your car stalls on train tracks, immediately get yourself and any passengers out of the vehicle. Then call a tow company and emergency services for help.
- Call 911 immediately if you witness an accident between a vehicle and a train, or are part of the accident.
Trains require over one mile to come to a full stop, so unlike a car, a trains cannot slam on its brakes to come to a sudden stop when an object blocks the rail. If a train hits a car on the tracks, the train will most likely continue moving, even if the conductor applied the brakes.
Too many drivers make the mistake of believing their car can “beat” the train, a race that the car usually loses. A large object like a moving train may appear to move slower than it actually is, leading a driver to misjudge how close a train really is.
Whether you have been injured as a passenger on a train that impacts a vehicle, or hit by a train while crossing the tracks, contact the South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the Strom Law Firm for immediate assistance. 803.252.4800