Train accidents may not occur frequently, but due to the size and weight of trains, accidents can leave victims with catastrophic injuries. In the most serious train accident cases, victims do not survive their injuries resulting in wrongful death.
Majority of train accidents happen because of human error. For example, a train operator failed to slow the train down at the right moment. Other times, accidents occur due to faulty equipment from the manufacturer. There are many causes for train accidents, but the consequences are similar – people end up hurt or injured.
Individuals, businesses, or government entities at-fault should be held accountable for their wrongful actions. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a train accident in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, it’s important that you contact a train accident attorney as soon as possible. Filing a claim to seek compensation is a difficult and overwhelming process so let an experienced attorney help you while you focus on recovering from your injuries. While no one can remove this tragic experience, financial compensation can help you and your family move forward. When you’re ready, our Los Angeles train accident lawyers at Mesriani Law Group are ready to help you.
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How a Mesriani Train Accident Lawyer Can Help
Mesriani Law Group has settled or litigated thousands of accident injury claims for our clients, including train accident claims. Our California train accident lawyers will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.
Here’s how a Mesriani Law Group attorney can help you with your train accident claim:
- Identify and locate all possible parties responsible for your injury.
- Collect and preserve critical evidence.
- Find important witnesses including eyewitnesses and obtain their testimony to strengthen your claims.
- Prove your case by hiring the expert to reconstruct scenarios in disciplines such as train operations, train design, and train mechanics.
- Communicate with insurance agents, government entities, train companies, and any other possible responsible party on your behalf.
- Negotiate the highest possible settlement for your claim.
- Represent you in court if the other party refuses to settle or only offers you a lowball settlement amount.
Why Choose Mesriani Law Group
While there may be numerous legal counsel options for train accident claims, choosing the right representation for your specific situation is essential to obtaining successful results. At Mesriani Law Group, we provide our clients with the following:
Types of Train Accidents
Our personal injury law firm has over 20 years of experience representing victims of train accidents in Los Angeles and throughout California. We are a top-rated personal injury law firm and have successfully recovered over $100 million for our clients.
We handle many types of train accident claims including:
- Train accidents involving passenger vehicles
- Train accidents involving pedestrians
- Train derailment accidents
- Train accidents as a result of equipment malfunction
- Single train crashes
- Accidents involving several trains
- Railroad crossing crashes
- Station or platform crashes
- Train accidents resulting in wrongful death
What Should You Do If You Have Been in A Train Accident?
Getting into a train accident can leave victims shocked and unsure of what to do next. You may be seriously injured and figuring out what you should do may be difficult. One of the first and most important things you need to do is to seek medical attention for any injuries you may have suffered. Some symptoms don’t appear until days, weeks, or even months later so be sure to get a full medical diagnosis from a medical professional. To make maximize your chances of recovering compensation for your losses, you should also do the following:
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention – Injuries are likely to happen in a train accident so seeking medical attention is a top priority
- Keep discussions to a minimum – Don’t provide any unnecessary statements to the other party, investigators, or insurance agents. There’s always a possibility that the other party may try to use your statements against you and minimize any compensation you may be entitled to. Be sure to speak with a train accident lawyer before discussing anything with the other party.
- Collect as much information as possible – At the train accident scene, write down what happened. Take note of where the accident happened, the weather conditions, and note whether the brakes were used before the train crash. Write down the names of any witnesses that may have seen the crash and their contact information, if possible.
- Take pictures of the accident scene – As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Use a camera or your cell phone to take photos of the accident scene. If you sustained any visible injuries, take photos of it also.
- Notify your insurance carrier if your vehicle was involved in a train accident – If your car or truck was involved in any sort of accident, you must report it to your insurance carrier. However, keep in mind that although your insurance is partially there to protect you, they are also looking out for their best interest. This means that insurance agents will prioritize the company’s interest over yours. So, even if you are insured, it’s a good idea to retain your own personal injury attorney who will prioritize your interest.
- Contact an experienced train accident lawyer – A train accident lawyer will have specific experience handling train crashes. With a thorough understanding of California laws, skills, and resources, your attorney will preserve your rights and make sure you obtain the maximum compensation for your losses.
Common Causes of Train Accidents
There are many types of train accidents and various factors that can contribute to a train accident. In Los Angeles, some of the most common causes of train accidents include:
- Human error – Mistakes on the part of the train operator is one of the most common causes of train accidents. Factors such as inexperience, fatigue, drug or alcohol use, or distraction can all contribute to errors by the train operator.
- Mechanical failures –Like any other complex machine, trains can break down. Mechanical train failures can include a breakdown of the switches that control the train tracks or safety signals.
- Negligence – When certain safety procedures and protocol are not followed, train accidents can happen. Things like failure to perform critical safety maintenance, updating safety systems, or mechanical failure due to poor workmanship can be considered negligent.
- Obstructed or defective train tracks – foreign objects left on the railroad tracks or a stalled car can all trigger a derailment. Additionally, aging infrastructure, defective train parts, operator error, poor train maintenance, or a negligent operator can also cause train derailments.
- Recklessness – Reckless behavior such as speeding to beat a train is a common cause of accidents.
- Speeding – Many studies show that the faster a train is traveling, the more serious the consequences are if there is a train crash. Just like passenger vehicles, trains must obey the speed limit. Traveling faster than the speed limit is not only unlawful but puts others at risk.
- Suicides – Sadly, when an individual attempts to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train, they put themselves and others in danger.
- Unprotected railroad crossings – Lack of warning or safety equipment, recklessness, distraction, poor visibility, or a train conductor’s failure to sound the alarm are common causes of train accidents at railroad crossings.
- Weather – Poor weather can impact visibility making it more difficult for drivers and train operators to see clearly.
Other common causes of train accidents include collisions with a car, bus, or truck at the crossing, collapsed bridges, defective fuel tanks, hazardous chemicals or waste materials, inadequate signal interchanges, inconsistent rail inspection or train tracks, and sun kinks (a section in railroad track that buckled due to extremely hot weather which could cause a train to derail).
Serious Injuries Caused by Train Accidents
Due to the enormous size and weight of trains, accidents tend to lead to serious injuries. In the most severe cases, train accidents even lead to death. Although there are laws in place to make trains safer for everyone, crashes still happen.
Some victims sustain serious injuries that leave them temporarily disabled for weeks or months. Others suffer permanent injuries leaving them disabled for life. Victims with permanent injuries may never walk or enjoy the life they used to before the train accident. Some common serious injuries caused by train accidents include:
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Joint or muscle pain
- Neck injuries
- Organ damage
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
How to Prevent Train Accidents
Majority of railroad accidents occur when a train crashes with a car or other type of vehicle. However, these accidents can be avoided when drivers follow these safety tips:
- Be alert at all times when you’re near a railroad crossing.
- Pay extra attention during bad weather like rain, snow, or fog.
- Slow down and prepare to stop at any railroad crossing.
- Stop immediately when a train is approaching.
- Look both ways and take your time to cross.
- If your car stalls, get out as soon as possible and call the police.
- Do not drive around lowered gates.
- Do not attempt to cross railroad tracks if you’re uncertain your car will make it to the other side.
- Do not rely on a horn or whistle to warn you of an oncoming train.
- Always remember, trains move faster than you may think.
Pedestrians should also be aware of their surroundings when walking or standing near a railroad. Here are some pedestrian safety tips to prevent an accident:
- Follow all warning signals and crossing signs.
- Use railroad crossings to get over the railroad tracks.
- Do not cross railroad tracks until the lights stop flashing and it’s safe to do so.
- Do not stand next to a moving train. Trains can sway and derail at any time.
- Do not use railroad bridges for any recreational activity including hunting or fishing.
- Never walk on train tracks. It is illegal and unsafe to do so.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Train Accident Claim?
No two train accidents are ever the same. An experienced train accident attorney can look at the facts around the incident and determine all parties responsible for causing your injuries. While each case varies, some parties that may be held responsible for your train accident include:
- The government entity or railroad company that operates the train – Public agencies and train companies must keep their trains, equipment, and rail cars in safe conditions. They’re also responsible for hiring qualified employees and providing adequate training for their employees. If they fail to fulfill any of these duties and it resulted in a train accident, they may be responsible for any injuries, property damage, or death.
- The manufacturer – Manufacturers of the signal equipment, engine, or other train equipment may be responsible if the accident was the result of equipment failure.
- The train track owner – The government entity or company that controls or owns the section of the railroad track where your accident happened owes a duty to both workers and passengers using the tracks. They are responsible for keeping them in safe conditions. If they fail to do so, they put people at risk and may be held responsible for any injuries.
- The motor vehicle driver – If your train accident involved a collision with a car, truck, or another motor vehicle, the driver may be responsible for damages caused by the crash.
It’s important to know that California has a strict statute of limitations and notice requirements when filing a lawsuit against a train operator. In cases of passenger train accidents, federal law caps liability to $200 million regardless of the level of negligence or number of victims involved. There are numerous details that must be followed when filing a train accident lawsuit and a misstep can prevent you from obtaining compensation for your losses. If you’ve been injured in a train accident, contact an experienced Los Angeles train accident lawyer as soon as possible for legal assistance.
Filing a FELA Claim
Injured train employees and railroad workers do not receive workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, almost all railroad employees are covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA provides injured employees the resources to obtain monetary compensation for medical costs and injuries suffered due to the negligence of a railroad carrier, its servants, employees, or agents.
However, employees must prove that their coworker or employer acted in an unsafe manner that resulted in their injury. Unfortunately, filing a FELA claim isn’t easy, and the process can be overwhelming. There are specific steps you need to follow to ensure you will recover damages for your injuries.
Many injured railroad employees mistakenly think that they can obtain more money and, in less time, if they don’t hire a train accident lawyer to represent them. However, railroad companies have a network of well-trained claims department employees and safety investigators to defend themselves against personal injury claims.
Attempting to deal directly with a railroad claim agent puts the accident victim at a disadvantage because most people don’t have the experience dealing with insurance companies. Hiring a train accident lawyer who has a deep understanding of FELA and its related safety regulations will ensure you have the best possible chance of recovering the maximum damages for your injuries.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Train Accident Claim
When you or a loved one gets injured or killed in an accident, money may not seem enough to compensate you for your losses. However, damages can help ease the pain and financial burden for you and your family.
Since each train accident case is different so are the injuries and losses associated with the crash. This also means that the types of damages victims are entitled to will vary. Depending on your case, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are monetary financial losses you sustained because of the accident. Sometimes referred to as compensatory damages, common examples of economic damages include medical bills or lost wages. Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses sustained because of your accident. These are intangible losses that reduce your quality of life in ways that are difficult to measure and typically include compensation for losses such as pain and suffering.
An experienced train accident lawyer can identify all the types of damages you are entitled to may include but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Caregiving costs
- Physical therapy costs
- Mental health treatment costs
- Prescription costs
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Disfigurement or disability
If a loved one was killed in a train accident, close surviving family members may also be entitled to wrongful death damages. Typically, spouses, children, and parents of the deceased victim are the only family members allowed to recover compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit.
In some cases, victims may also be awarded punitive damages if the court finds that the defendant’s behavior was especially harmful. Punitive damages exceed simple compensation and are intended to punish the defendant for his or her actions.
Contact a Mesriani Train Accident Lawyer Today
Train accidents are horrifying experiences that can leave victims with catastrophic physical injuries and emotional trauma. Whether it’s temporary or permanent injuries, injured victims are entitled to compensation for the ways that the train accident changed their life.
When you contact Mesriani Law Group, you will find a highly qualified Los Angeles train accident lawyers ready to help you recover your losses. Our experienced and compassionate lawyers will review your train accident case, investigate the accident, collect evidence, and make sure the responsible party is held accountable. Call 866-500-7070 today to schedule a free consultation.