How to Protect Your Rights If You Were Injured in a Train Accident
Have you been injured in a train accident with a truck? If so, you’re likely facing several serious life challenges and could be in severe pain. A train accident could result in injuries or the loss of a loved one, whether you were a vehicle driver or a passenger. At the Stoddard Firm, we’re prepared to help investigate your case and handle your lawsuit or claim.
Train accidents often result in serious injuries and even fatalities. According to Statista, there have been over 20,000 train-related accidents and incidents since 2019 in the United States. Over 12,000 resulted in injuries, while just under 2,000 resulted in fatalities.
Train Accidents with Trucks
If you were injured by your truck being hit on a railroad crossing, a reckless train company or train driver could be the one at fault here. For example, a train driver might have sped recklessly through a crossing without looking, or a company might have failed to double-check the train’s ability to work safely. You could pursue legal action to get compensation if the train company was found negligent.
You could seek compensation for your loss through a wrongful death case if a train driver or train company’s negligence led to an accident that killed your loved one.
A Guide to Railroad Company Liability and Accident Prevention
Unfortunately, as railroad usage continues to grow as a mode of transportation in Georgia, train accidents aren’t as rare as you may believe. In fact, there are approximately 300 accidents per year in Georgia. Different types of railroad accidents can include the following:
- Collisions between trains
- Pedestrian suicide and accidents
- Car and train collisions
- Railway bridge or platform collapse
- Victim/driver negligence or mistake
There is almost always the possibility of fatalities or catastrophic injuries in a train accident. In order to receive full compensation, you need a personal injury attorney to handle the complicated process.
As a form of mass transit, railroad companies and their employees have a duty to use “extraordinary care” at railway crossings and train stations to protect passengers and bystanders. To avoid liability in a negligence claim or a wrongful death lawsuit, the railroad company has to prove that it did everything it could to prevent the injury or death of its passengers.
There are a few common causes for railroad accidents where the train company is likely to be found at fault, such as:
- Defects or hazards on the train tracks
- Failure to balance train cargo or carrying excessive cargo
- Faulty train signals, crossing gates or lights
- Improper maintenance of the train, tracks and related items
- Failure of the conductor to sound a horn when coming to a crossing
- Employee mistake due to inexperience or improper hiring
- Objects protruding from the train
- Violations of safety rules, regulations or laws
- Mechanical defects in the cars or engine.
Although these are the most typical causes of train-related accidents, those that happen at the train station can result in lawsuits as well. The MARTA system in Atlanta, for instance, is no stranger to lawsuits.
Atlanta Accidents Caused by the MARTA System
The Stoddard Firm believes public spaces and services should be accessible to all, and we hold both corporations and governments accountable when they put the public at risk. We know that having access to public transportation is a service that is vital for supporting the mobility of those who are unable to drive their own cars, as well as being a service that’s beneficial for the environment and economy. Unfortunately, residents of Atlanta who utilize the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system are frequently faced with unsafe conditions, including poor maintenance and unethical security practices.
A passenger’s safety is put at risk once they board MARTA vehicles. Numerous traffic accidents involving MARTA buses have led to injuries and property damage. MARTA acknowledged in June 2019 that a bus had “made contact” with a pedestrian. The pedestrian was treated at a local hospital for foot injuries.
Another MARTA bus was involved in a collision in September of 2016 that resulted in the injury of 12 passengers, including the other vehicle’s driver. There was another incident about four months before that one where a MARTA bus driver was cited for turning improperly, striking a car in the lane next to it while trying to turn left. While this particular incident didn’t result in any injuries, it’s troubling to know what the driver of the vehicle had to experience in order to get a response from MARTA in the first place. Not only was his car totaled as a result of the accident, but it took MARTA over a month to get him access to a rental car, forcing him to then return it without getting any reimbursement to replace his car.
The driver eventually turned to the press for help. When FOX 5 Atlanta asked why the payment deadline had been missed, MARTA representatives initially blamed the dealership they had promised to send the payment to.
In the driver’s interview, he said that the claims representatives for MARTA had not been reachable with multiple phone calls. He said that this sort of delay was unacceptable and that it could have ruined someone’s life if they had been in a more fragile financial state than he was at the time.
Stories like these are why our team at the Stoddard Firm takes their work so seriously. We think it’s vital that people like the driver mentioned above must get the help and representation they need to navigate these tricky situations.
Driving Near Railroad Lines in Georgia: 6 Tips for Staying Safe
When on the road, a driver must be attentive and listen for approaching trains in order to prevent an accident. It’s never safe to cross the tracks if the arms are closing, even if it doesn’t appear that a train is approaching. Here are six tips to help keep truck drivers safe when approaching railroads:
- Visible trains travel faster and tend to be closer to you than you think. Therefore, it’s never safe to try to outrace a train and speed through the crossing.
- Trains don’t have the ability to stop as quickly as smaller vehicles. Even if the engineer sees your vehicle from a distance, it can take up to a mile before they can get the train to stop.
- It’s never wise to drive your vehicle around lowered gates. This is against the law and can very likely result in fatalities. If you think the signal might be malfunctioning, take a moment to call the emergency number posted near the crossing signal or call the police.
- Do whatever you can to not get stuck on the tracks. You should only attempt crossing the train tracks if you think you can make it without stopping. A train is wider than the tracks themselves by about three feet in both directions.
- Should your vehicle ever stall on the tracks, immediately get out of your car or truck and get as far away from the railroad tracks as you can. If you don’t see a train coming in the distance, keep your eyes peeled for an emergency notification system sign and call the number, telling them to be on the lookout for your car. If you see a train coming in the distance, it helps to run toward the train but away from the tracks. If you run in the same direction as the train, you’re more likely to get hit by any debris should the train collide with your car.
- Don’t ever assume that only one train will come at a multiple-track crossing. Wait for the first one to pass by, and then look and listen for a second or third train.
When crossing railroad tracks, your primary concern should be safety. However, it’s important to remember that you have a legal obligation to act responsibly when you’re at a railroad crossing. Your financial recovery in an accident will be severely reduced or eliminated if you engage in risky or dangerous behavior.
Georgia’s negligence laws follow a “modified comparative negligence” approach. You cannot recover in a personal injury lawsuit if you are more than 50% at fault. A judge or jury will reduce the damages you’re able to recover by the percentage you were at fault. For example, a person who is 30% at fault but has $100,000 in medical bills and expenses will only be able to recover $70,000 in damages.
How a Train Accident Lawyer in Atlanta Could Help You
We at The Stoddard Firm are Atlanta natives, and we know how daunting and frustrating it can be to have to choose between taking advantage of our city’s public transportation system and risking injury or death. In addition to our knowledge of the relevant areas of law, we are well-versed in the current state of the MARTA system. As a result of our knowledge of past cases, we can explain in a clear, compelling way to judges and juries just how MARTA could have done better. In addition, we know what to do if your truck is hit at a railroad crossing and if you or someone you love has been seriously injured. For the compensation you deserve, you need an experienced law firm on your side. Please feel free to give us a call at 470-467-2200 or to contact us online for a completely free consultation.