How to Prove Liability in a Train Accident

Train Accident

train accident

A train accident is a devastating incident often resulting in serious injury and even death. Train accidents happen under many circumstances. The most common are derailments, crossing accidents, and collisions with vehicles.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 6,668 total train accidents in 2021. When it comes to train accidents by state, California had the third-highest total in the country after Texas and Illinois. Additionally, Southern California in particular is home to many large metropolitan areas that rely on commuter and long-distance trains like Metrolink and Amtrak.

A train accident lawsuit against a large railroad company is a complicated matter, and getting a fair settlement from the powerful insurance companies behind these railroads presents many challenges. This is why it’s vital to know what rights you have in the event of an accident. In this article, we’ll discuss how to effectively navigate train accident liability when filing a personal injury or wrongful death suit against a railroad company.


Who Is Liable in a Train Accident?

In the event of a train accident, it can be difficult to determine liability. This is because several parties may have partial responsibility.

The train company, the railroad employees, equipment manufacturers, or a government agency could be found liable in a train accident case. Wherever your train accident lawyer can prove negligence, that party may be liable for damages.

For example, it may be possible to prove negligence on the behalf of the train operator for carelessness. Also, you might also have a claim against the railway owner for negligent training or supervision.

If the train had defective parts or was not properly maintained, fault could be put on the manufacturer. You might even have a claim against the city/state where the accident occurred.

An experienced train accident lawyer is your best resource when it comes to gathering evidence, proving responsibility, and getting the compensation you deserve.


What Needs to Be Proven in a Train Accident Lawsuit?

train accident personal injury claim

In order to resolve your personal injury or wrongful death train accident lawsuit successfully, you will need to prove four things. These include duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and actual damages.

1.  Duty of Care

Railroads fall under a business known as common carriers. These businesses are highly regulated, mandated, and controlled by congressional acts. In addition, one of these acts says that rail companies owe a “duty of care” in all aspects of their operation. Therefore, consider the following:

  • Did the railroad company fulfill its duty of care to provide a safe experience for its passengers? 
  • Were the employees properly trained and equipped to safely perform their roles and duties?

Laws require these businesses to take stringent care when it comes to operating and maintaining their trains, crossing through bypass routes, and providing warnings to pedestrians.

When it comes to caring for its passengers, railroad companies have an even higher duty of care. It must make every effort to prevent accidents and derailments and to keep passengers safe.

A qualified train accident attorney will be able to prove whether or not the railroad company, train operator, manufacturer, and mechanics have fulfilled their duty of care.

2.  Breach of Duty

Liability falls on anyone who did not prevent the accident from occurring. Therefore, anyone affiliated with the rail company could be guilty of negligence. As a result, the train company breached its duty of care. Parties found liable for breach of duty in a train accident may fall on several individuals. They include:

  • Railroad Company
  • Employees
  • Government Agencies

3.  Causation

Causation refers to who caused the accident. Therefore, there must be a direct link between the negligence of the railroad company and the effects of the accident, like injuries sustained or wrongful death of a loved one.

Working with attorneys is very beneficial in this area because the law firm can conduct a thorough investigation. Additionally, they will gather the necessary evidence needed to prove causation. Without enough financial resources, this can be difficult to prove independently. 

In addition, it’s important to consult with an attorney closely following the train accident, because evidence can become scarce as valuable time goes by. 

4.  Actual Damages

It must be proven that the train accident lead to monetary loss, as well as pain and suffering. The most common method of providing proof of monetary damages is through documentation. Additionally, this can be in the form of hospital costs and medical bills. You can show wage statements to prove lost wages.

You may also employ expert witness testimonies to give evidence of future expenses resulting from your injuries. These may include additional surgeries, physical therapy, psychological therapy, temporary or permanent disability, and loss of earnings.


Types of Damages and Compensable Losses 

train accident injury

It is important to understand going into a train accident lawsuit that railroad companies and their insurers will make every effort to minimize their liability in the event of a catastrophic accident.

Without an experienced train accident attorney, you may feel pressed to accept the insurance company’s low offer under the assumption it’s the best you’re going to get. It’s understandable to feel pressure and settle without the right help to guide you.

When you work with a qualified train accident lawyer, you will know how much your personal injury case is worth. The most common types of compensable damages and losses include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Property Damage
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Permanent Injury
  • Permanent Disfigurement

The spouses of individuals injured in train accidents may file claims for loss of companionship or loss of services as well. If you have lost a loved one as the result of a train accident, you may file a wrongful death claim


Hire a Train Accident Attorney Who Can Help

Navigating liability in the event of a train accident is a complicated task. First, you need to prove causation of the accident as well as negligence on the behalf of the railroad company and/or its assets.

Then, you will need to prove the monetary cost of your injuries and that they are directly related to the accident. A train accident lawyer can help you get the best possible settlement for your injuries and losses.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a train accident, contact The Law Offices of Daniel Kim. We offer a free consultation and can assist 24-hours a day, seven days a week.