Whether you are injured in a train accident as a result of a railroad crossing incident, a derailment, or an accident involving hazardous materials, you may have legal options available to help you move forward. Seeking the assistance of a Kansas City train accident attorney can make a big difference when it comes to your chances of getting justice.
For decades, the Kansas City train accident lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C., have fought diligently to protect the legal rights of people injured in accidents across Missouri, Kansas, and throughout the United States. Our lawyers are deeply committed to helping our clients secure the maximum compensation available for their losses.
Who Are the Victims of Train Accidents?
In general, people who are harmed in train accidents can fall under one of two categories:
- Train workers. This category covers people who work for railroad companies or other companies that are related to the rail industry.
- Non-train workers. A person will be considered a member of the general public if they are not a train worker. These victims are harmed due to a train accident or an incident involving a qualified rail-supporting industry accident.
Whether you are an injured worker or a member of the general public, it is imperative that you seek legal guidance in a timely fashion after the train accident occurs. Doing so will provide you with the best chances of getting justice.
The Kansas City train accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C., can meet with you for a free case evaluation at your earliest convenience to get started.
Federal Employee Liability Act (FELA)
If you were hurt in a train crash as a member of the general public, you might be able to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. If you are hurt while on the job, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) allows railroad workers to file federal workers' compensation claims. This act was passed and subsequently modified during the 1900s. During this period, there was a significant number of workers harmed in accidents while on the job. As a result, the legislated government protection that provided injured train workers with compensation and other benefits. FELA was established to help both victims who are injured in accidents as well as families who have lost loved ones during work accidents.
When pursuing a FELA claim, you must take various steps to ensure you have the strongest case possible. This includes:
- Seek medical assistance in a timely fashion.
- Report the accident and your injuries to your employer as soon as possible.
- Seek legal guidance from our knowledgeable train collision attorneys in Kansas City.
Top Causes of Train Accidents
Like other types of motor vehicle accidents, train accidents can often be attributed to many factors. Although every case is truly unique, some of the most common causes of train accidents that we see include:
- Human error. When conductors are inexperienced, train accidents may be inevitable. Even conductors working in the railroad industry for an extended time can make simple mistakes that cost lives.
- Fatigue. It is nearly impossible to operate a train while exhausted safely. However, we see many conductors attempt to do so due to the pressures they face from the railing company and their supervisors.
- Negligence. Railroad accidents caused by negligence can be blamed on various parties involved. In some instances, train accidents are caused by the railroad company itself. Other crashes can be attributed to the conductor, a negligent employee, or another negligent party.
- Reckless drivers or pedestrians. When vehicles or pedestrians cross tracks at the wrong time, drivers leave cars parked on tracks, or vehicles attempt to beat trains across the tracks, they can cause catastrophic collisions.
- Mechanical failures. Although rare, mechanical failures and defective parts can cause train crashes that result in serious injuries.
- Speeding trains. Traveling at a high rate of speed increases the risk that a conductor will lose control of the train. Studies have repeatedly found that the faster a train travels, the worse the consequences become during collisions.
- Derailments. When trains run off the rails due to a collision with another vehicle or with an object, a conductor error, broken rails, defective wheels, or a mechanical failure, it can have severe consequences.
- Defective tracks. It is vital that train tracks are clear and free of any defects. When there are obstructions on the tracks, it can cause trains to derail entirely. Conductors must always be aware of their surroundings to manage any potentially dangerous situations. However, there are cases where conductors fail to notice obstructions in time to avoid a railroad accident.
- Unprotected railroad crossing areas. Over 80% of railroad crossings in the United States do not have proper safety railing. Many crossings lack lights and gates, while main crossing areas on train tracks are entirely unprotected. Without adequate warning, drivers may not be able to avoid crashes with trains.
- A vehicle stalling on the tracks. Although it is rare for a vehicle to get stuck on a railroad-grade crossing, it can occur. When drivers stall out over tracks or stop their vehicles, it can have life-altering consequences.
Common Injuries Reported in Railroad Accidents
Being involved in a train accident can completely change your life. Even the slightest railroad accident can result in significant injuries. The size and weight of these vehicles mean they are more likely to cause considerable damage to anything they come in contact with during impact.
Although injuries reported in train accidents can vary widely, there are some injuries that occur more often than others. Some of the most common injuries reported in Kansas City train wrecks include:
- Whiplash. Many people suffer from whiplash as a result of train accidents here in the Kansas City area. The rapid and extreme movement inflicted on the head and neck due to a sudden stop can take several days or even weeks to recover from after sustaining injuries in a railroad accident.
- Fractures. Broken bones often heal with time. However, many victims have to undergo surgery and remain in casts for several weeks or months following their accidents. These injuries can require therapy to recover adequately.
- Internal organ damage. Reputed spleens, internal bleeding, and even lung punctures are just some of the internal organ injuries that train accident victims must endure.
- Concussions. When the brain is forced to move inside the skull due to a sudden blow or jolt to the head, it can result in a concussion. These injuries can range from mild to severe.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can affect how a victim's brain and central nervous system function for several years following an accident. Many victims may experience mobility issues, memory loss, loss of motor skills, and other negative consequences after suffering a serious TBI.
- Spinal cord injuries. Serious train accidents have been known to result in spinal cord injuries for victims. There are many instances where spinal cord injury sufferers are left permanently paralyzed. Many victims have to use wheelchairs or other medical devices to get around.
- Psychological injuries. In addition to suffering physical injuries in train accidents, many victims also suffer psychological consequences. Victims of train accidents often suffer from fear, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Suffering a catastrophic injury makes the mental and emotional consequences worse.
Liability in a Train Accident
In general, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) share regulatory responsibility for ensuring railroad safety measures and practices are in place. Each state then has its own regulatory body that is in charge of ensuring safe practices.
If you have been injured due to a train accident, you may be able to file an injury claim against one or more parties at fault. In general, the various parties who can be held liable for train accidents include:
- Railroad operators
- Railroad companies
- Train manufacturers
- Track owners
- City, state operators, or administrators
Damages Available for Train Accident Victims
If you have been injured as a result of a train accident, you may be entitled to compensation that you can use to cover various costs you face moving forward. Some of the damages we help victims recover through train accident cases include compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Long-term medical expenses
- Lost income
- Vehicle repairs
- Permanent scarring and disfigurements
The unfortunate truth is that many train accident victims are taken advantage of by the insurance company. Insurance adjusters are quick to offer minimal settlements to victims in order to have them sign away their legal rights to file a lawsuit in the future. Rather than speaking to the insurance company, it would be best to reach out to our train accident lawyers in Kansas City.
Our lawyers work with accident reconstruction experts and various other parties who can help to build a solid legal claim on your behalf. We will stop at nothing to ensure you are able to protect your legal rights and secure the maximum amount of financial compensation available for your train accident case.