Amtrak trains stop 12 times per day in the city of Modesto, California, which is also connected to a large industrial region to the south and east via a web of industrial train tracks. 11,559 train-related accidents occurred in the United States in 2018, killing 853 people. This means that there is over one train-related accident in the United States per hour. The people of Modesto are especially susceptible to train accidents due to their geographical location, and they may be eligible for financial compensation if they’re injured in train accidents which are the result of someone else’s negligence.

Types Of Train Accidents

Most train accidents fall into the following categories:

• Trains colliding with one another;

• Trains becoming derailed;

• Trains colliding with an automobile;

• Trains colliding with a pedestrian.

Who Is Liable In A Train Accident?

Liability in a train accident can be complex. Most train accidents occur at train crossings, and multiple parties often share responsibility over these stretches of train tracks. Parties who can he held liable for a train accident include:

• The railroad company who operates the train – this company employs the train’s crew and engineer. This company also maintains the train. This company’s safety responsibilities at train crossings include sounding the train’s whistle/horn during approach, making sure the crew operates as they were trained to, paying close attention as the train nears the crossing, making sure the train is traveling at a safe speed and making sure the train is adequately maintained. The railroad company may be held liable for any accidents that are caused by a failure to do these things;

• The company who built and/or designed the train – this company may be held liable if a train accident is caused by any of the train’s components not behaving as intended;

• The company who maintains the train tracks – this company will be responsible for adequately maintaining the tracks, properly installing gates and/or lighting and making sure that motorists who approach the crossing have adequate sight lines. This company can be held liable for train accidents if they fail to do these things properly;

• The city/county the crossing is located in – the city or county can be held responsible if the road which the train crosses is poorly maintained or constructed;

• The driver of the automobile – an automobile driver can be held liable for a train crash if they attempt to cross the tracks while the gates are down, if they’re speeding at the time of the accident or if the train accident is due to them not maintaining their vehicle adequately.

What Must Happen For A Party To Be Held Liable?

A party must be found to be negligent to be held liable for a train accident. If person A is injured in a train accident, company A is liable for person A’s injuries if:

• Company A should have exercised reasonable caution to prevent person A from being injured;

• Company A did not exercise reasonable caution to prevent person A from being injured;

• Person A was injured because company A did not exercise reasonable caution to prevent person A from being injured.

I’ve Been Injured In A Train Accident; What Now?

It can be difficult to determine who is liable in a train accident, since multiple parties can share responsibility over the stretch of train tracks any given accident takes place on. It can also be very difficult to prove negligence in a train accident. It is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for these reasons if you’ve been injured in a train accident. A personal injury lawyer can identify any and all responsible parties for you, find you the best doctors to treat your injuries, negotiate with insurance companies for you and hire experts who can prove that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only owe them a portion of your recovery if and only if they obtain you a recovery. Any medical bills relating to doctors a personal injury lawyer sends you to will be paid by said recovery. It is wise to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a train accident, as the statute of limitations for these kinds of accidents can be very short.

It is wise to do the following in addition to contacting a personal injury attorney:

• Collect evidence at the scene of the accident if you don’t require emergency medical attention. Take photos, both from up close for important details and from far away for important context. Identify witnesses, take down their contact information and question them. Don’t talk to them about the accident; just question them. You don’t want to say anything to them that can later be used against you;

• Never talk to the insurance companies who represent potentially liable parties. Their employees are trained to manipulate you into saying things they can use to pay you less or nothing at all. Leave dealing with these people to your attorney;

• Seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible if they don’t require emergency attention. If you wait too long, insurance companies may claim that it can’t be proven that your injuries were the result of the train accident.

What Can I Be Compensated For Regarding A Train Wreck?

You can be compensated for the following in a train wreck:

• Any medical bills that result from the accident;

• Any lost wages that result from you not being able to work because of the accident. This can include future wages;

• Any damage to property that results from the accident;

• Any pain and suffering that results from the accident;

• Loss of consortium – any loss of companionship, support or intimacy as a result of the accident. For example, losing a husband or wife, or your partner being unable to have sexual intercourse as a result of the accident.

Author's Bio: 

Jeffrey Nadrich, Esq. is the founder and managing partner of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP, a California personal injury law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Modesto and Tracy. His firm has recovered over $350,000,000 for its clients since it was founded in 1990. He has successfully represented Modesto residents and victims of train accidents for decades.