Many New Jersey residents ride a train daily to and from work in the city. Trains have become a popular mode of transportation due to their convenience and affordability—you don’t have to stop as often or pay for regular maintenance as you would with a car, SUV, truck, or other vehicle. However, trains get into accidents, too.
At Sadaka Law, we understand the emotional, financial, and legal outcomes of being involved in a train accident. Our experienced train accident attorneys in New Jersey have successfully helped clients proceed with confidence and receive compensation for their injuries and damage. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
What Is a Train Accident?
While people commonly use the term “train accident,” you can break down this definition into several different types. Train accidents typically involve derailment or collision. You can categorize many train accidents under those two headings, but not all.
Head-on collisions with other trains or vehicles aren’t very common, but most incidents lead to severe injuries and death.
Trains move quickly and often don’t have the visibility that drivers enjoy on the road, so their conductors have less time to react. Due to improper communication and scheduling, engines may unintentionally travel toward each other on the same track and cause a head-on collision.
Buffer stops (also known as bumpers, bumping posts, or bumper blocks) sit at the end of a railway to help a train come to a complete stop. If an engine goes too fast and doesn’t stop in time, it can collide with the buffer stop and lead to personal injuries, property damage, and other consequences. Buffer-stop collisions may also derail a train, putting others near the tracks in danger.
When we talk about a derailment, we’re referring to a train going unintentionally off the tracks. Cracked rails and broken railway components are the most common causes of derailment. A train could also derail due to a buffer-stop collision.
Bridge or Tunnel Collapses
Civil engineers are responsible for constructing railroad bridges and tunnels, which allow trains to pass from point A to point B safely. However, poorly designed structures can collapse and cause a train accident. Although this type of accident isn’t a derailment or collision, you’ll want a team of train accident attorneys by your side to help you sort through the aftermath.
Train Door Malfunctions
Train door malfunctions don’t fall under the categories of derailment or collision, but these accidents can be just as serious. If you’re trying to enter or exit a train and the door closes prematurely, it could, for example, trap you and drag you down the tracks. Such failures and the resulting injuries could qualify you for compensation.
Cargo Train Spills
Another common type of train accident involves cargo train spills. You could be eligible for compensation if you’re driving, walking, or standing near a train and its cargo spills and injures you. Railroad workers should always secure the freight, and engineers should always drive safely, especially when transporting toxic materials.
Assault on a Train
Many people assume that train accidents occur outside the vehicle, but accidents can also happen inside. For example, a passenger or crew member might assault you while in transit. If this happens, you’ll want to discuss taking legal action with a team of train accident attorneys.
The accidents we listed above aren’t the only types of train accidents. Other not-uncommon railcar accidents include:
- Short stops, when an engineer brakes too hard or at the wrong time
- Car stalls, leaving your vehicle stranded on the train tracks
- Car-train collisions, when a vehicle crosses the railroad at the same time as a freight train
Common Causes of Train Accidents in New Jersey
Although train accidents might not be as common as car accidents, they do still happen. Various factors can lead to these unfortunate events. In some cases, multiple elements combine to cause danger on the tracks.
One of the most common causes of train accidents is mechanical failure, especially in older trains that don’t receive proper maintenance and repairs. Most operators, railway technicians, and railroad companies routinely check their equipment to ensure that it works safely and effectively. However, negligence can result in worn-out, broken, or hazardous components.
Even with regular servicing, mechanical failures can occur. Trains are large, powerful machines that run on a complex system with hundreds of parts. If any of the components fail, it could lead to a train accident.
Another common cause of train accidents is distraction. Like car drivers, train operators must pay close attention to the route and their surroundings to stay safe. Accidents may result when operators get distracted or struggle with the following:
- Poor vision
- Drug use
- Alcohol consumption
A third possible reason someone might get hurt in a train accident would be if it were traveling at excessive speeds along its route—or perhaps even off-route. High, unsafe speeds can cause an accident with another railcar, station platform, or obstacle on the track. As a train’s speed increases, so does the likelihood and severity of a collision.
Experienced personal injury attorneys like ours at Sadaka Law realize that many collisions result from human error. For example, if you plan to drive a vehicle, you’ll likely receive training on how to operate that vehicle safely (through driver’s education classes or simply wisdom from others and personal experience). You risk causing an accident if you use a motorized vehicle without adequate training.
New conductors and railway technicians are more likely to make mistakes while on the job and thereby put others in danger. But even the best and most experienced railroad employee makes an error now and then. Such errors can lead to trouble down the track.
What You Should Do If Your Train Is About To Crash
If you’re traveling by train, you always face the chance of experiencing some delay or accident. You may wonder what you should do if your train is about to crash. How can you protect yourself?
For train passengers who don’t have time to get off, the best thing to do is stay calm and wait for help from the crew. Many people get injured during train accidents because they panic and try to get out of their seats before it’s safe. If you wait and follow instructions from trained crew members, you have a better chance of avoiding injuries.
Trains in the United States come equipped with emergency braking systems that automatically kick in during an emergency. If a train travels too fast and can’t stop in time, this system will stop it before it crashes into another object or derails. However, these systems do not always work correctly and sometimes cause more harm than good.
An emergency braking system failure can cause panic. Try to focus on getting yourself out of danger as quickly as possible instead of freaking out. This may include bracing yourself in your seat or looking for a safe opportunity to leave the train.
Common Injuries Resulting From a Train Accident
Head-on collisions, buffer-stop collisions, derailments, and railway collapses can all result in severe injuries and even death. Trains are large vehicles that often travel at high speeds with significant force. If a train gets into a wreck, you could suffer from the following:
- Head injuries, such as brain damage and trauma
- Neck injuries, such as whiplash
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones, such as ribs, arms, and legs
Internal bleeding is another common injury that may arise from a train accident. Although it’s not always obvious what causes internal bleeding, you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain or pressure in your abdomen
- Fainting spells
What Steps You Should Take After a Train Accident
Any type of vehicle accident can be traumatic and overwhelming. However, our train accident attorneys recommend following specific steps to protect your health and legal rights. If you’ve been in a train wreck, and if you are able, the first steps you need to take include:
- Calling 911: The police will respond to your call and investigate the cause of your accident. They’ll also help you and anyone else involved in the incident get the necessary medical attention.
- Taking pictures: Photos of the accident scene, personal injuries, and the surroundings can provide crucial evidence during an accident claim. You’ll also want to record other details, such as weather conditions and events leading up to the crash.
- Filing an official report: You’ll want to file an official report if you suffered injuries or property damage due to a train accident. Meet with the train operator or other railway personnel to start this process.
- Reaching out to an accident lawyer: Our train accident attorneys offer the professional advice and representation you need to understand your legal options and build a compelling case. At Sadaka Law, we’ll help you throughout the entire process.
- Contacting your insurance company: To file an accident claim, you’ll need your insurance agent’s name and contact information. They will assign someone from the company’s claims department to work with you and process the documentation properly. With a trusted lawyer at your side, you can file your claim as soon as possible and pursue appropriate compensation.
Liable Authorities in New Jersey After a Train Accident
In New Jersey, the common law principle of negligence governs the authorities liable for train accident injuries. This means that if you sustained injuries in a train accident and someone else’s careless behavior or failure caused the injuries, that party could be liable for your damages. You’ll want to talk to your lawyer about filing a lawsuit.
Authorities that may be liable for your accident-related damages include:
- The owner of an entire railroad line at any time during its existence
- A company with control over the maintenance and operation of a single section or portion of a track
How Do You Prove Your Case?
Proving your injury case can often be challenging, especially if multiple factors contributed to the accident. It’s not enough to say someone drove poorly—you must furnish proper evidence to back that claim. You must also be able to trace your injuries back to the incident.
Experienced train accident attorneys can help you sift through the evidence and prove your case. We’ll help you determine the severity and extent of your injuries and how those factors impact your life moving forward. This information is critical as you seek to file your claim.
Fortunately for survivors of train accidents, most states have passed laws requiring railroads and other transportation providers to pay compensation whenever an accident occurs. If the court system finds these companies negligent in their maintenance practices or safety procedures, they may be liable for even heftier amounts.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Expect?
If you or a loved one sustains injuries due to a train accident, you could qualify for compensation. Compensation won’t change the past, but it can help you face an uncertain, unpleasant future. Many victims receive compensation for the following:
- Economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, inability to earn, and repair costs
- Non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, PTSD, and lost quality of life
- Punitive damages, such as fines, imprisonment, and other punishment for liable parties
Not every victim is eligible to receive compensation, and the amount varies depending on the severity and nature of your injuries. At Sadaka Law, our knowledgeable train accident attorneys will evaluate your claim and see if pursuing compensation will be worth it.
Qualities of a Top Train Accident Attorney
With so many train accident attorneys in New Jersey, how do you know which one is best for your case? When choosing the right attorney, look no further than Sadaka Law. Our lawyers have experience and expertise in handling train accident cases, proven track records, and the commitment to always stand up for your rights.
Our successful attorneys have studied railroad and public transportation laws comprehensively and have an in-depth understanding of the city, county, and state ordinances. Our law firm has handled everything from large-company liability cases to personal claims. Our professional litigation services can assist and guide you after a train accident.
Many victims face severe, long-term health problems due to a train accident, but filing a claim seems too intimidating. They don’t understand their legal options and suffer unnecessary physical, financial, and emotional hardship. Don’t go it alone—get a skilled attorney who will stand up on your behalf and help you seek a fair settlement.
How Can Litigation Services From Sadaka Law Help You?
Train accidents can leave you with scars—emotional, financial, and physical scars. However, the train accident attorneys at Sadaka Law can help you face the unknown future confidently, keeping your best interests as our number one priority. We’ve successfully helped thousands of clients get the compensation they need for accident-related injuries and damages.
Have you or a family member sustained personal injuries or property damage from a New Jersey train accident? At Sadaka Law, we’re here to help you take the next step, file a claim, and pursue appropriate compensation. Call us at (800) 810-3457 or go online to schedule an initial consultation today.