Recently, train accidents have been occurring frequently in the news. The Metro-North train that derailed and collided with an oncoming train in Bridgeport has been especially frightening for those of us here in Connecticut who take the train to and from New York. Additionally, accidents in Maryland and California have brought a lot of attention to railroad safety. What few realize, however, is that train accidents are more common than one would think.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reported 1,712 train accidents in 2012. Ten accidents were here, in Connecticut, and 34 were in New York. Despite how high the number seems, train accidents have actually been decreasing every year as more and more railroad companies are taking stricter measures to ensure safety.
Because trains are so massive and fast, there are inherent dangers to passengers on trains, railroad employees, and at railroad crossings. Many factors can contribute to an accident. However, the most common causes for train accidents are mechanical and electrical errors. Environmental conditions can also pose a safety threat, such as snow, ice, mud, or rocks on the track.
Human error is often another cause of train accidents. Negligence by the driver, conductor, rail operator, or the railroad company can cause devastating accidents. Just like in a car, a train accident by human error can result from violating speed limit restrictions, distractions such as cell phones, and ignoring safety regulations.
Railroad workers are the most at risk of being harmed in a train accident. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) protects railroad workers if they are injured on the job so they can receive compensation for their injuries from the company or the state. Passengers and all others injured by a train may also have a claim against the railway owner or state for negligence.
Whether the accident is a fire, a derailment, or a collision with another train, car, or pedestrian, it is up to the railroad company to ensure they are following federal and state safety laws. Compensation for injuries in a train accident can include damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income. Since there are many different parties and errors involved in train accidents, pinpointing who was at fault is a much more complicated process than with a car accident.
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What do you think about all of the recent train accidents? Let us know in the comments below!