Recent incidents in Helena and Mobile show that train accidents are catastrophic and devastating to victims and their loved ones. Other train accidents around the nation, such as the fiery East Palestine derailment in Ohio, resulted in property damage, large-scale evacuations, and potential health problems for residents exposed to the toxic chemicals in the crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured following a train accident, you may be able to seek compensation for financial, physical, and emotional damages from a negligent party. However, navigating the aftermath can be challenging.
Our guide can help you understand your rights and the steps to take after a train accident so you can receive the compensation you deserve to focus on recovery.
What Causes Train Accidents?
The most common types of train accidents are derailments, collisions with other trains, and impacts with vehicles or pedestrians at railroad crossings.
- Derailments: A derailment occurs when a train leaves the tracks. This can happen due to track defects, excessive speed, or improper maintenance.
- Collisions with other trains: This type of accident happens when two trains collide on the same track. This occurs due to communication errors, signal malfunctions, or failures in the train’s control systems.
- Impacts with vehicles at railroad crossings: These accidents occur when a vehicle attempts to cross the tracks while a train approaches, leading to a collision. This can result from driver error, disregard for warning signals, malfunctioning crossing gates, or poor visibility.
- Impacts with pedestrians at railroad crossings: Similar to vehicle collisions, pedestrians may be hit when attempting to cross the tracks while a train is coming. This can happen due to unawareness of the train’s presence, disregarding warnings, or trying to beat an oncoming train.
According to the latest Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics, Alabama’s most common causes of train accidents are human error or negligent acts such as improperly lined switches, broken rails, or objects in the railroad tracks.
Legal Aspects of Train Accidents
The claims process following train accidents involves navigating intricate legal and financial aspects, often requiring victims and their families to contend with insurance companies. These companies assess damages such as medical bills or lost earnings and provide compensation for injuries or losses.
Navigating the claims process as the victim of a train accident can be difficult. You may have several options for seeking compensation after a train collision, including a personal injury claim, wrongful death claim, or lawsuit.
- Personal injury claim: After a train crash, you can work with an attorney to file a compensation claim with the responsible party’s insurer. This allows you to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages directly related to the injuries.
- Wrongful death claim: If a train collision ends in a fatality, family members can explore a wrongful death claim. These claims are designed to compensate families for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and emotional distress resulting from the tragic loss of a loved one.
- Lawsuit: If negotiations or settlements are inadequate, you may need to file a lawsuit to win damages. This involves legal proceedings in civil court against the liable parties to seek compensation for damages.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Train Accident
Whether you are a train passenger, vehicle driver, or pedestrian, your actions after a crash matter. Follow these steps to recover damages for the losses you suffered:
- Seek medical attention: If you or a loved one was injured in a train accident, don’t delay seeking medical attention, even if you don’t feel pain. Common injuries sustained by train accident victims are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), fractures, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage, which may not show immediately.
Get medical care so you can receive a diagnosis and treatment, and create documentation of your injuries for legal action.
- Keep medical records and gather evidence: Keep your medical records and associated documents, such as X-rays, imaging scans, and psychological reports. Collect as much evidence of the accident scene as possible, such as pictures of your injuries, video footage of the crash, or witness statements and contact details.
- Report the crash to the authorities: Reporting a train accident is crucial to ensure the proper authorities are aware and can launch a thorough investigation. Start by calling 911 and reporting the crash to emergency services. This should alert the local or state police.
You should also report the accident to the Alabama Railway Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) by contacting the agency.
Contact a Train Accident Attorney
An experienced Alabama train accident attorney at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers has the skills and resources to help you navigate the complexities of your case. Our attorneys will do the following:
- Investigate the accident: Thoroughly investigate the accident to establish liability and explore your legal options. Assess whether you have a valid claim, such as personal injury or wrongful death.
- Provide legal counsel: Explain your rights, offer compassionate guidance, and provide tailored, expert advice for your case.
- Deal with insurance companies: Handle communications with insurers and file a claim on your behalf. Ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.
- Offer legal representation: If needed, file a lawsuit and represent your interests in a court of law.
The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers Protects Train Accident Victims
The aftermath of a train accident is a traumatizing experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to handle it alone. Our train crash attorneys at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers are at their best when you are most vulnerable, providing the legal support you need.
If you or a loved one was injured in a train accident in Alabama, contact us as soon as possible. We are here to protect your rights.