Riding the rails has long been considered one of the safest ways to travel. However, train accidents still occur and can result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Understanding the potential causes of serious train accidents can help improve safety and prevent future derailments and collisions.
One of the most common causes of train accidents is human error. Train engineers and conductors who are distracted, fatigued, or impaired by alcohol or drugs account for about 40% of train accidents. A momentary lapse in judgment, such as missing a stop signal or traveling at excessive speeds, can have catastrophic consequences. Strict adherence to safety protocols and procedures is essential to avoiding mistakes.
Track defects are another major contributor to train derailments. Broken rails, buckled tracks, and faulty railroad switches can send trains careening off course. Rigorous track inspection and prompt maintenance help keep the rails safe and operational. Track obstructions like fallen trees or rocks on the line also need to be cleared to prevent disastrous collisions.
Mechanical failures with trains themselves, such as brake malfunctions, signal system issues, and broken axles can also precipitate accidents. Comprehensive maintenance checks and part replacements help minimize the chances of system failures. Newer technologies like positive train control which automatically stop trains before collisions can occur help compensate for human errors.
Adverse weather conditions also play a role in many train crashes. Heavy rain, snow, or ice on the tracks can cause wheels to slip. High winds can blow debris onto tracks or even tip over train cars. Operators must reduce speeds and take extra precautions in inclement weather.
Other factors that contribute to accidents include defective grade crossings with malfunctioning lights or barriers, unauthorized people trespassing on tracks, and unstable soil or track beds that undermine rails. Collision with vehicles that attempt to go around lowered gates is the leading cause of fatalities at railroad crossings.
No matter the cause, serious train derailments and collisions put passengers and crews at great risk for injury. Common injuries include burns, broken bones, spinal cord trauma, brain injuries, and internal organ damage. In severe crashes, amputations and even death can occur. Those who survive can face long recoveries, permanent disabilities, and steep medical bills.
The Most Serious Train Accidents in the US
Some of the deadliest and most destructive train accidents in American history involved passenger trains derailing at high speeds.
- In 2018, an Amtrak train derailed near Tacoma, Washington while traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone, killing 3 passengers.
- In 2015, an Amtrak train bound for New York City derailed in Philadelphia along a sharp curve, killing 8 people. The train was traveling at 106 mph, more than twice the speed limit.
- One of the worst crashes occurred in 1993 when an Amtrak train plunged off a bridge into a river near Mobile, Alabama, killing 47 passengers and crew.
- In 1986, a fiery head-on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a freight train in California killed 32 and injured over 350. The Metrolink engineer was found at fault for running a stop signal.
- Other major wrecks include a 1989 crash in Newport News, Virginia between a CSX freight train and Amtrak’s Colonial passenger train, which killed 16.
- In 1999, a Chicago-bound Amtrak train hit a steel truck bearing left on the tracks in Bourbonnais, Illinois, killing 11 passengers.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious train accident, contact us as soon as possible. We can help investigate the cause of the crash, build a case for liability and negligence, calculate damages, and negotiate a fair settlement from the railroad company. With trains weighing tons and traveling at high speeds, crashes inflict life-altering harm. Legal advocacy helps secure the compensation needed to cover medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Don’t delay in seeking justice. The statute of limitations sets a strict timeframe to take legal action after an accident. We can evaluate your potential claim, preserve evidence, and handle negotiations so you can focus on healing. Too often, accident victims who try to handle matters on their own end up undercompensated.
Railroads have an obligation to operate safely and prevent hazardous conditions. When substandard safety practices contribute to a crash, victims deserve to hold the companies fully accountable. With us as your advocate, you improve your chances of obtaining a settlement that provides for your financial and medical needs. Don’t hesitate to demand the justice you deserve.
Visit our office at 16633 Ventura Blvd. #602 Encino, CA 91436.
Call now for a free consultation on (818) 659-8588.