Orange County Train Accident Lawyer
Train accidents are one of the most horrific transportation collisions imaginable. Runaway trains have been featured in Westerns and memorable Hollywood movies, but in the real world, the damage is catastrophic. Trains that derail or collide with other vehicles can injure passengers, bystanders, and railway workers. They can also release toxic chemicals that put local residents at risk.
Rail travel is a relatively safe form of transportation. However, accidents still happen, and the probability is even higher in Orange County, which is laced with busy commuter/freight rail lines and countless railroad crossings. Metrolink trains alone travel nearly 3 million miles each year. Additionally, frequent interactions between trains, motorists, and pedestrians significantly increase the risk of life-changing or potentially fatal injuries. At Rizio Lipinsky, our train accident attorneys focus on helping injury victims gather evidence and recover fair compensation.
Train Accidents in Orange County, California
Laws established by the Federal Railroad Administration define the legal standard for train accidents, and they require rail operators to complete a monthly ledger detailing all reportable incidents. According to these regulations, a train accident involves on-track equipment that’s either stationary or moving where the cost of damage is at least $8,500. Rail operators are also required to report the following incidents.
- Workplace incidents involving death, injury or occupational illness
- Collisions, derailments, and accidents causing injury or equipment damage
- Railway crossing incidents involving trains, vehicles or pedestrians
Common Train Accident Causes
Railroads depend on countless moving parts, which means that almost anything can go wrong. Train accidents are often caused by aging tracks, faulty crossing gates, and incorrect signals. Additionally, fatigue, improper training, and distractions can cause engineers to make deadly mistakes.
In 2008, a Metrolink train missed a stop signal because the engineer was texting. Twenty-two seconds after his last message, the train hit a Union Pacific freight carrier head-on. This accident injured 135 passengers and caused 25 fatalities, and it’s still one of the deadliest commuter rail collisions in U.S. history. Here are a few other examples.
- Maintenance issues and stalled vehicles often cause railroad crossing accidents.
- Derailments could be triggered by excessive speed, damaged tracks, or faulty equipment.
- Boarding accidents may involve dangerous platform conditions that lead to severe injuries.
- Defective mechanical equipment or signals contribute to car-train and train-train accidents.
- Pedestrians are vulnerable to collisions if they cannot see or hear approaching trains.
- Stalled vehicles and faulty crossing gates can cause deadly car-train accidents.
Train Accident Injuries and Losses
Trains cause catastrophic damage due to their immense weight and mechanical power. Additionally, Orange County has a number of high-speed rail lines, which can worsen the severity of the crash. Due to the wide range of impact possibilities, train accidents often result in severe injuries, fatalities, and costly property damage.
- Passengers: In the event of a collision, passengers may be thrown from their seats, slammed into hard interior surfaces, or struck by flying glass and debris.
- Vehicles: Railroad crossing accidents can cause catastrophic vehicle damage as well as whiplash, contusions, broken bones, and burns.
- Bystanders: Pedestrians, bystanders, and passengers waiting in boarding areas are vulnerable to flying debris, unexpected movement, and hazardous maintenance-related conditions.
Who Can Sue After a Train Accident?
Anyone who has been injured during a train accident has a right to sue, including passengers, pedestrians, motorists, and railway workers. Determining who is responsible for the accident is an important step because liability standards vary greatly depending on whether you were driving down the street in your car or riding home on your daily commute.
- Passengers are protected by common carrier laws. In California, public transit systems, bus operators and taxis are required to use the highest degree of care to protect their passengers.
- Railway workers are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. This complex set of laws allows employees to sue railways for on-the-job accidents and occupational injuries.
- Pedestrians, motorists, and bystanders must rely on general negligence laws, which state that individuals and companies must act with a level of care consistent with a reasonably prudent person.
Who’s Responsible for Injuries Caused by a Train Accident?
Commuters and motorists often believe that rail lines and regional transit authorities are responsible for their injuries, but that’s not always the case. Depending on the facts, one of the following parties may be liable for your losses.
- Rail operators
- Railway workers
- Engineers and conductors
- Motorists or pedestrians
- Maintenance providers
- Equipment operators
Should You Work With a Train Accident Lawyer?
Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney is recommended after any train accident. Rail companies have a complex corporate structure and a large staff of in-house attorneys. They may also rely on third-party maintenance providers and subcontractors that may share responsibility.
Train accident attorneys have the resources needed to gather evidence, analyze accident reports, and interpret complex liability laws. A lawyer can also help you determine your exact losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma. Law firms that handle these types of cases typically work on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay a thing unless you receive a settlement. A train accident lawyer can also provide personalized advice based on the facts of your case.
If you have been injured in an Orange County train accident, call Rizio Lipinsky today. We can provide a free no-obligation consultation to help you take the next step toward rebuilding your future.