Train accidents may not get a lot of coverage in the news, but they are much more common than you probably realize. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), 2,000 to 3,000 accidents and incidents have happened every year for the past several years involving trains. This equates to a train mishap about six to eight times every day.
Are you surprised? Read on for more information about this disturbing trend.
Types and Prevalence of Accidents Involving Trains
A significant percentage of railroad accidents ― about 70 percent ― involve derailments. Every year, at least 1,300 incidents involve a train running off its rails. Other accidents involve crashes with on-track rail equipment or pedestrians, employees or other vehicles at railroad crossings. These incidents are often catastrophic, causing several hundred deaths and nearly 1,000 injuries each year.
Railroad accidents also result in millions of dollars in property damage, both to the involved vehicles as well as to the tracks and train equipment.
Leading Causes of Train Accidents
Though malfunctioning warning systems contribute to some accidents, at least half of all incidents at railroad crossings take place when the flashing lights and gates are functioning properly. Many people ― motorists and pedestrians alike ― ignore warnings, mistakenly believing that they have enough time to cross before the train arrives.
Unfortunately, due to trains’ immense size and 50-mph-plus speeds, they require more than a full mile to stop. If a train does not have sufficient time and distance to stop, a collision is likely to occur.
Train accidents are not always a factor of human error, however. Some collisions are caused by failing mechanics or defective parts. Others involve inadequate warning systems, poorly maintained tracks or crossings, or train conductor negligence.
Liability for Accidents Involving Trains
People who are injured in train accidents are often entitled to compensation for medical bills, loss of income and property damage. A wrongful death suit may also be filed on behalf of someone killed in a railroad accident.
The success of a legal claim will depend upon the type of incident and the relationship between the plaintiff and the railroad, among other factors. The court will use evidence to determine the duty of the railroad to the plaintiff and whether negligence led to the accident.
Railroad crossing accident lawsuits are complex, as the failure of the railroad to fulfill its duties must be proven. If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed at an Idaho railroad crossing, contact the experienced lawyers at Montgomery Dowdle in Boise. We can help you get the best result in your case related to train accidents.