Train derailments and other types of railroad accidents are rare. However, when they do occur, train accidents often cause large numbers of injuries and fatalities. A recent and tragic example of the dangers of rail travel can be seen in the Philadelphia Amtrak 188 derailment disaster that occurred in 2015, claiming eight lives and causing hundreds of non-fatal injuries.
If you or one of your family members was injured in an Amtrak train accident, or was hurt in a Philadelphia SEPTA train crash, compensation may be available for your hospital bills, the income you lost, and other expenses caused by your injuries. However, lawsuits involving railroad disasters are highly complex and technical cases, which makes skilled legal representation critical. To talk about your train accident injury claim with an experienced attorney in a free legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206.
Are SEPTA and Amtrak Liable for Train Derailment Fatalities, or Passenger Injury Claims?
Every day, Amtrak and SEPTA carry millions of passengers throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the northeastern United States. For example, Amtrak’s Acela Express and Keystone routes both carry passengers between Philadelphia and other major northeast cities, with Philadelphians boarding at 30th St. Station in Center City. Meanwhile, Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian route offers service between Pittsburgh and New York City, making stops at:
At the local level, SEPTA trains operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority carry riders throughout the Philadelphia metro area, with some lines extending into New Jersey. SEPTA’s Regional Rail system features more than a dozen routes, including:
- Airport Line
- Center City to University City
- Chestnut Hill Line (East, West)
- Cynwyd Line
- Fox Chase Line
- Lansdale/Doylestown Line
- Manayunk/Norristown Line
- Media/Elwyn Line
- Paoli/Thorndale Line
- Trenton Line
- Warminster Line
- Wilmington/Newark Line
If an accident or disaster occurs along these or other routes, Amtrak or SEPTA may be liable for losses sustained by the passengers, including present and anticipated losses related to wrongful death, personal injury, and property damage. To provide a few examples, compensation, or “damages,” may be available for:
- Diminished Earning Capacity
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Lost Benefits
- Lost Income
- Medical Bills
- Medical Devices and Equipment
- Mental Anguish
- Pain and Suffering
- Scarring and Disfigurement
Liability may exist if the accident occurred due to the negligent or reckless actions of an Amtrak or SEPTA employee. Put simply, negligence refers to carelessness while recklessness is disregard for known risks. In a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit arising from a train disaster, the role of the plaintiff’s (victim’s) attorney is to prove that SEPTA or Amtrak failed to meet its duty of care to its passengers by acting with negligence or recklessness, leading to an avoidable accident that caused harm.
Train Accident Statistics: Types and Causes of Railroad Disasters
Rail travel is generally safe because numerous regulations and physical mechanisms are in place to reduce the risk of accidents. However, terrible wrecks can still occur if a train operator, parts manufacturer, or maintenance worker is reckless or negligent. Indeed, human error is responsible for the majority of rail disasters.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), more than 11,600 “accidents or incidents” were reported on railroads in 2015, including 1,906 train accidents. These accidents led to 13 fatalities: nearly three times as many as the year before.
Most of these accidents – just over 750 – were attributed to “human factors.” Another 261 were caused by equipment problems. Signal problems were also responsible for a significant number of crashes, accounting for 53 accidents.
Examples of human factors could include:
- Debris on rails that should have been cleared
- Ignoring or incorrectly interpreting signals
- Improper handling of the train’s engine, which can lead to an explosion
- Mechanical failures or rail defects resulting from defective product design or manufacturing
- Negligent maintenance of brakes, wheels, or other train components
- Speeding, especially on curves
Trains and locomotives can be involved in several different kinds of accidents, including:
- Head-On Collisions
- Rear-End Collisions
People can also be injured by falling, or by being struck by a falling object inside the cabin.
According to FRA statistics, only 148 of the 1,906 accidents reported in 2015 were collisions. Derailments, which occur when a train physically leaves its rails, were far more common. A total of 1,345 derailments were reported.
Philadelphia Train Crash Injury Attorney
If you or one of your family members was injured in a train derailment, collision, or other type of railroad accident in the Philadelphia area, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial losses. You are urged to consult with an experienced Philadelphia train injury attorney as soon as possible to talk about your potential claim.
To set up a free legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206. Railroad injury lawyer Brent Wieand handles personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits involving Amtrak, SEPTA, and parts manufacturers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*