Over the centuries, trains have been used in a variety of ways across the United States. Although they are no longer our fastest form of transportation, train travel is still a great option for many Americans, especially those that live and work in urban areas. Commuter trains take employees and business workers into and out of large cities with ease, while passenger trains still make cross-country treks. In addition, manufacturers and distributors often use trains to haul products, crude minerals, and even livestock over nearly every state.
Commuter Trains in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area
The Washington, D.C. metro area is a prime example of how efficient trains can be. Commuter trains are ideal in large urban areas like Washington, D.C. and are a convenient form of transportation that doesn’t add to traffic congestion on freeways and highways. In addition, train travel allows commuters to relax and multi-task without the hassles of driving.
Unfortunately, train travel is not always safe—and when train accidents do occur, they are often catastrophic, causing serious injury to numerous passengers at one time. A prime example was the horrific Washington, D.C. Red Line train accident of 2009.
Train Accidents Are Catastrophic
Due to the high speeds at which trains travel, when trains collide with a stationary object, run off the rail, or catch fire, the results are often catastrophic. The weight of a train combined with the speed it is traveling means that passengers often suffer serious and life-threatening injuries. A single train accident can kill and injure hundreds of passengers and cause millions of dollars in damage to surrounding homes, businesses, or city structures.
Causes of Train Accidents
A train accident can occur for numerous reasons, and in many cases there may be multiple parties responsible for the accident and the resulting injuries or fatalities. Train accident causes include:
- Conductor or operator error
- Computerized signal system failure
- Improperly maintained train tracks
- Outdated railcars or train equipment
- Faulty brakes
- Faulty train signals
- Operator inattention or distraction
- Structural defects
- And more
Federal and State Railroad Laws
The Department of Transportation Act of 1966 created the Federal Railroad Administration to oversee railroad operations and enforce safety regulations. Federal laws governing railways usually take precedence over any state laws, but each state is also responsible for regulating their public transportation system, including commuter trains.
Complications After a Train Accident
Due to the severity of train accidents, train accident victims need a law firm on their side from the very beginning. Injured train passengers may have a claim for negligence against the train operator and the railway owner. Train passengers could also have a claim against a product manufacturer for a defect. As such, your train accident lawyer will need to investigate every aspect of the accident closely to determine who the responsible parties are. In addition, a thorough investigation will also be needed to uncover if the train company or driver broke any federal or state train laws. This can be tricky and may require skilled accident reconstruction specialists and forensic experts.
When Train Workers Are Injured
When a train worker is injured on the job, these cases fall under a compensation system known as the Federal Employees Liability Act. The FELA is a unique law that replaces the ordinary workers’ compensation system for on-the-job injuries for railways workers with a lawsuit system. As such, injured railway workers need a special lawyer who is experienced in navigating this system.
Contact Train Accident Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our train accident lawyers understand the severity of train accidents in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Virginia, and Maryland. Our accident attorneys work tirelessly from the very start to ensure that all our clients receive the compensation they need to fully recover. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The train accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other locations throughout Maryland and Virginia.