Train Accident Lawsuit Loans
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Train Wreck Lawsuit Funding
Every 115 minutes in the United States either a person or a vehicle is struck by a train. According to the US Dept of Transportation there are about 5,800 vehicle / train crashes each year in the United States, with the vast majority occurring at railroad crossings. This includes freight trains, subways and commuter or passenger trains.
If you’ve been seriously injured, are currently involved in a drawn-out legal fight, have retained a contingent-fee attorney, have strong liability against a sufficiently insured defendant and you’re in a financial bind because it’s taking forever to settle your case but you could really use some of your future settlement money now, we can help you.
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While train accidents don’t happen as often as car accidents, a large number of the former still occurs every year, which can result in deaths totaling up to approximately a thousand. Trains are large and heavy, which are contributing factors to the massive catastrophes caused by train accidents.
People who are on board trains rely on the train company to provide safe transportation for its passengers and its employees, but there are times where accidents are just plain accidents. Lawsuits are a legal option in seeking justice for those who have been injured or killed because of a train accident.
Plaintiffs involved in train accident lawsuits are able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost past and future wages, and pain and suffering. Other compensatory damages would have to depend on the conditions of the plaintiff, as well as the damages that were incurred on the plaintiff.
On the other hand, many liable parties can be a defendant in train accidents. While most of the time, liable parties or the defendant would be the company or entity operating the train, drivers, conductors and any other person or entity that played a part in contributing to the accident may also be held liable. This is one of the reasons why train accidents are complicated and complex, because multiple parties may be held liable for damages.
Many things and factors can cause train accidents, so there’s no full general way of addressing the topic of train accident lawsuits. Each lawsuit and its claims would depend on the laws and standards set by a certain state. Also, every lawsuit and the proper action to take in such a lawsuit would also depend on the factors that attributed to the accident and the situations that were present prior and during the accident. However, there are guiding principles that can help those who have suffered injuries from train accidents.
Train Accident Lawsuits
Train accident lawsuits are naturally complex, and most accidents result in massive collisions that involve many people either being injured or killed. Even minor train incidents can cause great injuries or even death to passengers due to the large size and weight of the vehicle. Train accident lawsuits often involve multiple liable parties, and are subject to varying laws, standards and statutes of limitations. Lawsuits of this kind typically have long processes, with plaintiffs reaching settlements years after the lawsuit is filed.
Evidence plays a pivotal role in any lawsuit, and train accidents lawsuits are no exception. In truth, evidence presented in a train accident case can either be make or break since the evidence will be the concrete proof that sheds light on the factors, situations, and conditions that are present prior, during and even after the accident.
Common causes of Amtrak crashes and accidents:
Pedestrian hit by a train
Collisions with another train
Slip and falls
Tracks out of alignment
Motor Vehicles struck at crossings
Passengers that fall from trains
While the most common train accidents involve crashes with other trains or motor vehicles, derailment is another common kind of train accident. Contributing factors in many train and railroad accidents include improper maintenance of the trains and the tracks, mechanical failures, and poor, under maintained railroad crossings.
It is important to note that each train accident varies depending on the situations that were present in the accident. Plaintiffs who seek for compensation may do so for medical expenses, loss of past and future wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages – all of which are dependent on the gravity of the train crash and the injuries sustained of the plaintiff. As such, the conditions present during the time of the accidents would determine who is liable for the injuries, as well as which claims may be used by the plaintiffs for their respective cases.
Usually, there are two factors which identify the duty of the railroad to the person who was injured or killed, and which laws can govern the lawsuit: (1) type of accident, and (2) the relationship between the injured party and the railroad. This is also a determining factor as to whether or not plaintiffs are able to recover for damages in a lawsuit.
Jeffrey Nye died in a railroad crossing accident in December 2008. The high school teacher was crossing the train tracks in his Jeep when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train hit the vehicle. The Nye family then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the train company in behalf of their beloved. Allegations in the lawsuit claim that the location was unreasonably dangerous and had lacking safety equipment.
The family presented evidence that showed the crossing had over abundance of vegetation that could have blocked the vision of Jeffrey Nye. It was also pointed out that the crossing should have had flashing safety lights, and that the crew aboard the train failed to blow horns at the crossing – a requirement for trains. However, Burlington Northern Santa Fe argued that they were not required to have flashing lights at the gravel road crossing in question but admitted to not blowing its horn.
The trial was before a County District Court jury, in Oklahoma. The railroad company was found to be responsible for 65 percent of the accident and Nye’s death. The jury awarded the family with $14.8 million in damages. However, since Nye was responsible for 35 percent of the accident and his own death, Burlington Northern Santa Fe was only ordered to pay approximately $9.6 million in damages to the family.
Amtrak is one of the biggest train and railroad services in the entire world. Amtrak is known to provide services throughout the United States and Canada. The government owned company started providing services in 1971. Amtrak is owned and operated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation with headquarters in Washington D.C.
Common causes of Amtrak crashes and accidents include platform accidents, pedestrians hit by a train, derailments, collisions with other trains, conductor negligence, slip and fall accidents, tracks that are out of alignment, motor vehicles that are stuck at crossings, and passengers that fall from trains.
When people are injured while on an Amtrak train, they have legal rights that make them eligible to pursue proper legal action against the liable party. When a fatality occurs due to an Amtrak crash, family members of the departed also have the legal right to file a lawsuit against Amtrak and can claim compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some Amtrak trains include Acela Express, Adirondack, Amtrak Cascades, Auto Train, California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, Capitol Limited, Cardinal or Hoosier State, Carolinian or Piedmont, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Downeaster, Empire Builder, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Heartland Flyer, Hiawatha, Illinois Service, Keystone, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Michigan Services, Missouri River Runner, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquin, Silver Service or Palmetto, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, and Vermonter.
In 2011, a fatal train crash in Nevada resulted in six deaths – the truck driver, a train conductor, and four passengers — and dozens of injured people. A truck driver had tried to pursue the train tracks, causing the tractor trailer he was driving to strike Amtrak’s California Zephyr. According to the lawsuit, the truck driver, Larry Valli, had a track record of speeding tickets, and was found to have been driving a truck with horrible breakage systems. Furthermore, camera footage also showed that Valli was ignoring flashing lights, a gate, and numerous warning whistles from the train.
However, the defendants counter argued that the gates and lights in question were not functioning correctly, and that the railroad companies had destroyed the evidence for the claims. Reports say that by the time the truck ran, the warning lights, two engines, and the baggage car already cleared the crossing, causing the truck to hit the fourth rail car of the train.
The lawsuit was filed by Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad against a trucking company. The railroad claims that the John Davis Trucking Co. was the responsible party for the train accident with the California Zephyr. A federal jury in Reno, Nevada awarded Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad with $4.5 million and $210,777 respectively for damages, medical costs for employees, and accrued interest.
However, the presiding judge, United States District Judge Howard McKibben put the verdict on hold to consider whether or not the company will be ordered to pay an additional $1 million for legal fees. Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad were seeking compensation for damages worth up to $11 million. Relatives of those who were killed in the accident have filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against Valli’s estate and the trucking company.
The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority encompasses various forms of transportation such as public buses, subway, and trains. So long as a person was injured while on board any of the vehicles controlled and operated by the MTA, the person may be eligible to gain compensation for damages by filing an MTA lawsuit.
The following claims involving MTA accidents may be filed by persons who were injured:
Injuries sustained while waiting, boarding or departing the subway
Train crashes or injuries sustained aboard trains such as the Metro-North Railroad, the Staten Island Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road, and the AirTrain JFK
Passengers, pedestrians and motorists involved in bus accidents
The MTA can also be liable in cases of negligently hiring their employees. This is applicable in cases such as employing a driver without a valid CDL license, or failing to make sure that the drivers were operating the vehicles within the 10-hour rule, or if the MTA encouraged unsafe driving behavior in any way. When this happens, the MTA may then be required to pay damages to the plaintiffs.
Similarly, when drivers are found to not have adhered to the specified rules, the MTA may also be legally responsible for injuries. This is applicable in cases where the driver failed to have passenger endorsement on the CDL license, or if the driver was found to have been inadequately trained or certified.
It was in December of 2013 when a commuter train on the Metro-North Hudson line in New York jumped its tracks due to speeding on a dangerous curve in the Bronx. The train derailment resulted in four passenger fatalities and dozens with critical injuries. The MTA is said to be facing tens of millions of dollars for damage awards, based on previous verdicts on similar cases.
The MTA may be held liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability, if investigators find that human error was the cause of the accident. However, the MTA may also avoid liability if federal law governs the case, rather than state legislation. Federal law puts limits on damage awards to train passengers for all claims that came from a single accident. The cap for damage awards is at $200 million.
Statistics and Reports
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about 24,000 people were injured in bus accidents in 2008 alone.
Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration reveal that 2,891 train accidents occurred in the year 2000, which caused 12,069 casualties including 928 fatalities.
In a 2005 commuter rail derailment, $29.5 million was awarded to an injured Chicago passenger.
Each year, approximately 3,000 train accidents occur that result in about 1,000 fatalities.
According to Operation Lifesaver, every two hours, a train hits a vehicle or a pedestrian at a rail crossing in the United States.
Train Crash and Train Derailment Lawsuits
Train wrecks can happen for any number of reasons. Railroad crossings may be littered with debris, rail lines may be obstructed, mechanism failure, or simple human error can be at fault, either by operator error when a train derails or slams into a car, truck or other train, or sometimes people step, fall or drive into the path of an oncoming train.
Any time there is a train crash or train derailment, serious personal injuries and fatalities almost always occur simply because of the massive bulk and weight of trains. Train accidents can also cause enormous property damage and extensive loss of human life.
Nearly half of all collisions at railroad crossings occur where automatic warning devices such as flashing lights or flashing lights with gates are present and are functioning properly. A troubling new statistic is that some train wrecks have actually been caused by the engineers or train operators using cell phones or sending text messages while they are operating the train!
Many people mistakenly believe that they will hear an oncoming train or that a train will be able to stop in time to avoid hitting them. However, the truth is that if a 150-car freight train is traveling at 50 miles per hour and hits the brakes, it will take over a mile to stop.
An estimated 1,000 people die in train crashes every year. Some additional United States train and railroad accident statistics estimate that nearly every 2 weeks a train derailment causes a chemical spill. Some of these spills are so serious they require the evacuation of local residents.
Train accident litigation can be very complex and, as a result, very long and drawn out. This is where lawsuit funding can really be a lifesaver.
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