Santa Barbara Train Accident Attorney
Representation for Victims of Train Accidents in California
Train accidents are rarer than car accidents, but because of the massive equipment and numbers of people involved, they can cause mass devastation. California has thousands of miles of train track, and many commuters and workers use commercial and passenger trains every day. When serious accidents occur, they cost people their lives, lifestyles, and jobs, and cause damage that takes a great deal of time and money to repair.
The sad reality is that the majority of train accidents are caused by human error, such as a distracted engineer who travels too fast in certain areas. Many other collisions are caused by technical issues, such as problems with tracks or mechanical failures on the train itself. No matter what caused the train to crash, however, it is the innocent passengers who are hurt.
Do not suffer due to someone else's negligence. Call our Southern California train accident attorneys at NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022. We can talk about your legal options and how you can move forward and receive just compensation.
Common Causes of Train Accidents
Although there are many causes of a train derailment or collision, a few causes are more common. These are:
- Human Error: Mistakes made by people are the most common cause of train accidents. Consider the tragic 2008 Chatsworth train collision. That avoidable accident happened because the engineer of one of the trains was text-messaging and failed to slow down and change sections of track. Had he been focused on his job instead of his phone, it could have saved 25 lives, including his own, and avoided more than 100 injuries.
- Track or Rail Problems: While this was a bigger problem in the past, there are still train derailments every year because of issues with the tracks or rails themselves. For example, damaged areas of tracks that cause derailments, locked or improperly flipped switches that send the train on the wrong path, or sections that are not functioning properly to redirect the trains away from a zone under construction. Upkeep of the thousands of miles of railroads in California is the responsibility of several different companies, so knowing who might be at fault for an accident caused by track problems can be difficult to determine.
- Mechanical Failure: Trains are complicated machines that have a lot of moving parts and systems in place to keep them running properly. All these parts and systems need to be inspected, repaired, and replaced as needed to ensure an accident does not happen. When maintenance crews fail to do their jobs, unfixed mechanical issues can cause a serious crash. Sometimes, even when maintenance is done properly, the equipment itself might be defective due to a manufacturer issue, in which case the manufacturer would be to blame.
Derailments are not the only possible cause of injury in a train accident; in fact, they are not even the most common. Far more likely injuries to passengers occur in the form of a slip-and-fall on the platform, a fall between the gap, or a fall down the station stairs. Other harm can be inflicted by other passengers, if the train is overcrowded and the conductors don’t keep order.
After a fall on the hard surface of a train station, you might suffer broken bones, soft-tissue injuries like sprained ankles or wrists, or a traumatic brain injury. And if the railroad or its employees were negligent in any way – by mopping the floor and not putting up a "caution" sign; by not installing guards to minimize the gap; by allowing a crush of people that injures another passenger – then they can be held liable in a court of law. But these cases aren’t simple.
In derailments and collisions, "falls" are not the greatest hazard to passengers. The force of the impact can cause much more serious injuries, including deep lacerations, head injury, spinal cord injury, amputations, and burns. Sadly, these train accidents are likely to be fatal for some percentage of passengers. Since passengers have no control over what happens during their ride, they are innocent victims of any mistakes the conductors, engineers, or maintenance people make.
The family members of a loved one killed by a train collision may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the railway and its contractors. NordstrandBlack PC can investigate the mechanics of the train failure and file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. You may be able to recover:
- Funeral/burial fees
- Costs of pain and suffering before death
- Costs of medical bills incurred before death
- Compensation for the emotional losses, such as loss of companionship and marital relations
- Compensation for income losses due to the deceased’s passing, such as the provision of childcare, housekeeping, or job-related income or benefits.
Who Is Responsible for a Train Accident?
Responsibility and liability in a train accident really come down to who acted in a negligent way that caused the accident. In some cases, it might be one person who failed to do his or her job. In other situations, the train company that hired and trained employees might have failed to ensure their workers knew how to do their jobs properly. It is also possible that maintenance staff failed to do their jobs, and faulty or damaged equipment or tracks caused the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a federal agency, is charged with investigating train accidents and determining fault. But just because the NTSB finds a company at fault does not mean that company is going to start handing out checks to victims. These businesses want to spend as little money as possible compensating victims for their losses, even after their recklessness costs people dearly.
Using the information from NTSB’s reports and conducting further investigation, an experienced Santa Barbara injury lawyer can determine who to hold liable for victims’ injuries or wrongful death and work to get them just compensation. If you or a family member has been injured in a Southern California train accident, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 and put us to work for you. Your consultation is free.
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