Common Causes of Train Accidents

Trains have been used in America since the 19th century as a manner of transportation for people. Americans still like to take trains on leisurely journeys, but most trains are primarily employed in the transportation of goods. Over the years, train travel has been a safe way in which to move from point A to point B, but accidents do still occur. The Common Causes of Train Accidents About 11,000 train accidents happen every year in the United States, and some of their common causes include the following:

  • A mechanical defect or breakdown within the train system
  • The failure to maintain the train or the track in good working order
  • An irregularity on the track
  • Negligence or dereliction of duty on the part of the operator
  • Incorrect track-line switching
  • Erroneous loading of the train’s cargo
  • Inadequate signage along the railroad route

Along with the common causes listed above, a train wreck can occur because of adverse weather conditions. Also, accidents have been known to happen when the roads and the railways converge. People in automobiles, on bicycles or on foot have had the misfortune of colliding with moving trains where crossings were not clearly evident. The Federal Employers Liability Act When train accidents occur, railroad workers can be injured, but the United States government wrote legislation way back in 1908 that protects these workers’ rights to be compensated for their injuries. According to the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA), railroad workers are entitled to monetary compensation if they are injured in the process of performing their duties. In order to receive payment, the train wreck must be partially or completely due to the negligence of the railroad. What Are the Railroad Worker’s Rights under FELA? A train wreck and the injuries that result are different from injuries sustained at other types of workplaces. Because of this, railroad workers will be required to go through the process of obtaining compensation from FELA rather than worker’s compensation. This benefits railroad workers because they will be entitled to receive a larger sum of money than they would be awarded through worker’s compensation. FELA does not just help people who suffer injury in a railroad accident. If workers have been exposed to asbestos, have been repeatedly injured on the job or have injuries due to repetitive stress, they could be entitled to compensation through FELA as well. Was the Negligence of Another to Blame for the Worker’s Grievances? With a FELA railroad accident, railroad workers do need to demonstrate that someone associated with the railroad caused the accident. They must also prove that the collision or accident is responsible for their injuries. They will do this by showing that another employee, an agent or a contractor of the railroad was careless in the performance of his or her duties. The accident may be the cause of defective equipment, and if this is the case, the burden of proving this will be on the railroad worker. Obtaining Monetary Compensation Proving another person’s negligence or that a piece of equipment was defective can be extremely difficult for railroad workers to undertake. That is why they will need to hire train accident lawyers who are knowledgeable in the complexities of FELA. Employers have not been in favor of operating through FELA, and several have gone to court to fight this legislation. Railroad workers need their own FELA attorneys who will fight as vigorously on their side as the railroads’ lawyers are working for them. A railroad accident attorney knows what a railroad worker’s rights are, how to protect them and secure just compensation for any accidents and injuries.