Statistically speaking, riding on a subway or train is considered safer than driving a vehicle. However, despite trains being considered safer than other modes of transportation, statistics by the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) show that over 3,000 train accidents occur annually, leaving victims with catastrophic injuries or death. The number of accidents might appear low, but the harm inflicted on the victims is life-changing, depending on the type of accident.
If you have been wrongfully injured in a train or subway crash, California allows you to recover damages if you can demonstrate the defendant was negligent.
The laws that govern these types of crashes are complicated. First, you must establish the train or station’s ownership, the cause of the accident, and the person whose actions or negligence is responsible for your injuries. Sometimes the defendant in your case might be the government, which makes the process more complicated. You will need an injury attorney to work on your behalf to ensure you obtain maximum compensation.
At the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, our legal team has helped victims of train and subway accidents receive the amount of compensation they are entitled to by the law. We have the experience and resources to help you recover compensation for your catastrophic injuries.
General View of California Train and Subway Accidents
Although trains are not as frequently used as they were in the past, some prefer using this transportation mode. Many employees, students, and tourists prefer going to work, school, or visit tourist attraction sites using trains. Like vehicles and planes, train and subway accidents are at a significant risk of leaving victims with catastrophic injuries. If you are a victim of these accidents, it’s critical to know what is expected of you after the accident.
The majority of train or subway crashes reported in the state are due to human factors, which means most of them are avoidable. You have the right to hold someone liable for your catastrophic injury if they disregarded train or subway safety rules, causing your injuries.
The locomotive’s immense size and weight make the injuries sustained by victims in the event of a crash devastating. Passengers and bystanders suffer catastrophic injuries, while others end up losing their lives. If you are lucky to be alive but came out of the crash with devastating injuries, you should reach out to an injury attorney to commence the process of seeking compensation.
Train and subway accidents affect bystanders, passengers, or employees. These accidents take different forms and cause different types of catastrophic injuries. Some accidents only involve one person, mainly a bystander at a train station or crossing. Others affect multiple train occupants or the entire vicinity in the event of a train derailment.
You can suffer injuries from a train and subway crash in various ways. The main types of train and subway accidents:
- Train collision with bystanders walking along or across a train track with an oncoming train.
- Trains collide with vehicles. These accidents are common where roads crisscross train tracks. The motorists are usually the parties to blame in these cases because the law requires them to yield the train’s right. A train can collide when the signal is flashing, and the car driver thinks he or she can “beat” the train. In other incidents, the driver might stop on the train track waiting for the light to change or try crossing the rail line, unaware of an oncoming train.
- Train collisions. These accidents are rare, but when they happen, they result in catastrophic injuries due to these engines the utter speed and size. The crashes result from miscommunication, human error, design defaults, or mechanical failures. Train crashes take various forms: head-on, rear-end, raking, broken trains, side-impacts, and collisions at railroad crossings.
- Another type of train accident is derailment. It occurs when the wheels of the train veer or come-off the tracks. These types of crashes stem from operational errors, mechanical problems, or collision with objects. When this happens, one train car pulls others off the tracks, spreading to the entire train. Victims of this type of train and subway accident include railroad employees, train occupants, and the surrounding community where the accident occurs.
- Gap incidents. These accidents occur when a person boarding the train miscalculates the gap separating the boarding platform and the train, thus falling into the opening.
- Slip and fall accidents. The accidents are common in subways, primarily in platforms or escalators. These accidents’ common causes include failure or inadequate warning about slippery surfaces, or carelessness among individuals in the station.
When train and subway accidents happen, victims usually suffer devastating injuries. If the accident involves a collision of a bystander or vehicle with the train, it usually results in death.
Whether you are a worker or non-employee who has been injured in a train and subway accident, the FRA requires that you report the incident if the harm involved:
- Requires further medical attention after first aid
- Results in unconsciousness
- Is a catastrophic injury
- Happened in the rail line’s properties
- Is connected to train operation
Usually, after these accidents, the rail line company reaches out to inquire about the injuries’ extent. If this happens, disclose all the information you know about the unfolded events leading to the crash. This will play a pivotal role when seeking compensation.
Defining your injuries’ nature and extent isn’t easy, especially if you are not a medical expert. For this reason, you are encouraged to seek medical treatment right after the crash so that you can have medical reports with comprehensive information about your injuries.
Common Causes of Train and Subway Accidents
The FRA tracks and reports data on highway-rail grade crossing crashes, rail equipment accidents, and fatalities stemming from these accidents. They conduct investigations of the accident from the cause, nature, and severity of the injuries sustained. According to FRA investigations, the common causes of train or subway accidents are:
- Inadequate rail line maintenance
- Human error or negligence
- Faulty or defective equipment
- Objects on the railroad or tracks
- Hazardous conditions at the subway like spills
- Defective signals or crossings
If you sustain injuries from any of the above incidences, you can sue the train or subway company or another injured party if the accident was due to their negligence.
Common Forms of Catastrophic Injuries in Train and Subway Accidents
Train accidents can result in minor and catastrophic injuries. The damage depends on the type of accident, the locomotive’s speed, and the passengers’ number.
Catastrophic injuries are a significant concern for many victims because they affect you permanently, depriving you of life enjoyment. The damages can cause permanent disability or prevent you from engaging in routines for many years. The high cost of medical treatment and inability to work means you will depend on your family members or friends for almost everything. Besides, the emotional suffering and stress victims of these accidents undergo might result in mental conditions.
Some of the common forms of catastrophic injuries in train accidents include:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Your spinal cord is highly sensitive, and any harm done to it could lead to a permanent or partial loss of motor functions, on the lower or upper part of the body or both. The majority of individuals whose spinal cords are injured in train crashes use wheelchairs or suffer full paralysis for the rest of their lives.
Spinal cord injuries take various forms like:
- Vertebral stenosis
- Bulging or cracked disks
- Fractured backbone
It’s difficult to tell if you have sustained a spinal cord injury, which is why you are encouraged to visit the hospital for examinations whether your injuries are severe or minor. Some of the symptoms that indicate a backbone injury include:
- Difficulties breathing
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle weakness
- Life-threatening pressure or pain in the back or neck
- Partial or total loss motor function in specific body parts
- Loss of senses or touch in the fingers, toes, or feet
- Stinging sensation in the back
- Muscle tremors
The backbone is part of your body’s nervous system, which means if any harm or damage happens to it, it will cut off communication between the brain and other body parts. This form of injury can have devastating health complications like:
- Respiratory problems
- Issues with the bladder that might result in urinary tract infections
- Bowel control issues
- Loss of full or partial skin senses which increases the possibility of bedsores
- Muscle atrophy
- Weight loss
- Circulatory control issues
- Erection and ejaculation problems in men
- Reduced lubrication in women
At the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we understand that a backbone injury can end your career and result in disability. For this reason, our attorneys are here to help you seek compensation. The money received can be invested in technological advances that will enable you to enjoy life and stay active regardless of the disability.
Post-Traumatic Sight or Hearing Loss
A traumatic event like a train collision can result in visual or hearing loss. Loss of sight usually occurs when the patient is unconscious, but it can happen even when conscious, although these cases are rare.
When sight or hearing loss happens, you and your friends and relatives must find new ways to live with the new normal. This form of catastrophic injury is not something you can be ready for. Therefore, you must begin to cope with the challenges life throws your way for the rest of your life. On top of daily life challenges, the cost of treatment for these injuries is high hence seeking compensation.
The injuries that can lead to loss of vision or hearing include:
- Punctured or scarred eardrum
Loss of vision, on the other hand, stems from the following injuries:
- Trauma to the brain
- Shortage of oxygen in the brain
- Brain tumors
After a train or subway accident, you can tell if you are experiencing post-traumatic sigh loss if you experience the following symptoms:
- Extreme sensitivity to light or brightness
- Severe headache when reading or using the computer monitor for an extended time
- Visual field
- Inability to focus
- Los attention span
- Memory lapse
- Seeing doubles
At the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we know effects that come with hearing or vision loss. Correcting the vision or hearing issue is also very expensive, which is why you need to get in touch with an experienced injury attorney. A proficient attorney will help you get maximum compensation for your losses. The money might not help you regain your sight or hearing, but it will make life more comfortable as you learn to cope with the new experience.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can take days, weeks, months, years, or sometimes never after the train and subway accident to realize that they are the root of all the health complications you are experiencing.
It’s for this reason that you are encouraged to go for medical examination right after the crash, regardless of whether the injuries are minor or significant. You should also monitor these injuries’ signs and symptoms after the accident, to know when to go medical check-up or emergency treatment. Some of the symptoms that might indicate you have a brain injury include:
- Feeling jumbled or disoriented
- Enlarged pupils
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lack of feeling on the toes or fingers
It’s worth noting that TBIs are the most catastrophic train and subway accident injuries because once your brain suffers trauma, your life makes a U-turn, and things may never get back to normal for the rest of your life. The injuries take so much away from you hence the reason you need maximum compensation for your loss.
Loss of Limb or Amputation
A train accident can leave you with one or more limbs. Other times, damage on the limbs might be extensive such that the only medical solution is amputation. Whatever limb you have lost, the effects can be devastating because you have to deal with the loss and find a coping way. Loss of limb will result in the inability to per take daily activities. Additionally, the emotional and psychological suffering could result in depression or death.
Suppose the accident has caused significant trauma or shock on your limb or damages blood vessels, the doctors might have no other option than to perform an amputation. The cost of amputation is high, plus you will need an artificial limb, which further increases treatment expenses. These effects will not affect you only, but they will extend to your friends and immediate family. So, you are encouraged to seek compensation to make life easier and less financially stressful.
Apart from the catastrophic injuries discussed above, you could also suffer burns from a train and subway accidents, in case the train catches fire or the crash involves hazardous materials.
Challenges in Train and Subway Accidents
Train accidents face unique challenges compared to typical personal injury cases. One of the significant problems these claims face is that of ownership of the train or subway station. The majority are government properties, which means you will be suing the government where different procedural and time limit rules apply.
However, some trains or subway stations are privately owned. You must identify the owner first before proceeding with the claim, which might be time-consuming. Establishing liability in co-ownership between the government and private companies is also challenging.
Furthermore, some government agencies enjoy sovereign immunity. It means even if they are liable for the accident, you cannot sue them for compensation. However, if they allow you to sue, they will limit the number of damages to be awarded, preventing you from receiving maximum reimbursement.
Liability in Train and Subway Accidents
Trains fall under the category of common carriers. The railroad company that owns or operates the train has a duty of care as public transportation to ensure passengers and other people are safe.
When an accident occurs, many factors are considered to establish liability. However, in most train accidents, the railroad company is often responsible. These companies must keep the tracks and subway stations adequately maintained. Further, they should retain well-trained and experienced engineers and conductors.
Other parties that could be held responsible include:
- Track owner
- The driver of the car that collided with the train
- Manufacturer of the locomotives or parts of the train
- Train operator, whether a firm or government entity
Damages for a Railroad Accident
If you have sustained injuries from a train and subway accident, you have the right to recover damages. In this case, damages mean money obtained as compensation for physical or emotional harm, property damage, and financial losses.
The damages fall into two categories, which are tangible and intangible damages. Tangible damages include:
- Loss of property
- Medical treatment
- Loss of wages and future income
- Legal fees
Non-tangible damages, on the other hand, include:
- Suffering and pain, especially if you suffer disability or physical disfigurement
- Emotional distress
Note that these non-tangible damages lack monetary value, which makes it challenging to estimate. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can come up with the right estimate that will ensure maximum compensation.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The danger railroad accidents pose are evidenced by the victim’s deaths and catastrophic injuries after the accident. The injuries suffered can prevent you from earning income or living a quality life. Get in touch with the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013 for help in seeking compensation for your accident.