Important Legal Considerations in Railroad Accidents

According to a report released by the Federal Railroad Administration, about 3,000 train accidents occur in the US each year. These accidents claim approximately 1,000 lives every year. Most railroad accidents are often in the form of a collision with a bus, car, or another train. A derailment and even fire are also other common railroad accidents.

Causes of railroad accidents

Electrical failures, mechanical issues, improper communication, and railway maintenance problems are some of the common causes of train accidents. Any competent railroad accident lawyer knows that a train accident is caused by a number of factors. Those injured by the accident or the surviving relatives and friends of those killed by such accidents must identify the causes of the accident and the responsible parties then file a claim.

Common carriers   

These are the entities that transport goods or people according to defined schedules and routes. They have a legal duty to ensure their passengers and cargo safely reach the desired destination. The common carriers will be held liable for any physical harm to the passengers that might happen during transportation if the responsible parties could have prevented the accident by exercising more care. This includes railway carriers who acted negligently while transporting your cargo or your loved one.

State and federal laws

According to the Interstate Commerce Act, the Congress has the power to regulate all common carriers transporting cargo or passengers across the state lines. The Federal laws that govern railways precede the state laws. However, each state is allowed to regulate its public transportation system.

The Federal Railroad Administration oversees all railroad operations. FRA also creates and enforces all the necessary railroad safety regulations. In most cases, violation of any of these laws creates a liability per se. That means if only you can prove that the train failed to comply with the state or federal railroad regulations, you will succeed in establishing a liability element of a claim against the train company.

Responsible parties

In many cases, determining who was responsible for a certain accident is difficult. This is because different accidents are caused by varying combinations of factors. If you were injured, you might have a claim against the railway owner and the train operator.

However, if the accident was caused by a malfunctioning or defective railways part of the train, the state and federal liability laws permit you to pursue a claim against the manufacturers, the people who installed the part, and those who serviced or repaired the train and the railway.

This increases the number of wallets contributing to the settlement of your claim. The bad news is that identifying all of these parties is an uphill battle for many people. Having an experienced, qualified personal injury lawyer and enough resources to investigate the case can be helpful.

Injured workers

Passengers aren’t the only people who can sustain injuries in a train accident. Railway workers can suffer injuries too or even die while executing their duties. The worker’s compensation programs, state laws, and the Federal Employer’s Liability Act protect railway workers who stain injuries during a train accident.

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