Trains are one of the main methods of transportation in and around New York. While train accidents are rate, when they do occur, the results are often catastrophic or fatal. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, several parties can be liable for your damages. If you or a loved one suffered an injury involving a train or railroad crossing, a New York train accident lawyer can review your situation and help you seek compensation for your losses.
Different Types of Train Accidents
Many different types of train accidents can occur in New York:
- Train collisions
- Collisions between a train and car
- Train vs. pedestrian accidents
Common Causes of Train and Railroad Accidents
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) runs the majority of the trains and subways in and around New York City. The MTA includes the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and the Staten Island Railway.
In addition to these public transit systems, Amtrak and numerous commercial shipping lines run through our area.
Train accidents can occur due to mechanical errors, operator negligence, or third party negligence. Here are some examples of each situation:
- Mechanical Error: The train’s braking system and speed controls failed, allowing the train to take a curve at high speed and derail.
- Operator Negligence: The train conductor falls asleep at the controls, failing to adjust speed, allowing the train to approach a curve at high speed and derail.
- Third-party Negligence: A contractor hired to repair a portion of the tracks leaves debris on the finished site which causes the train to derail.
As you can see, there are several factors that can play into the cause of a railroad accident.
Who is liable for a train accident?
Liability depends on the circumstances of the accident.
For example, if a driver was intoxicated and drove in front of the train, the driver is likely totally liable. However, if a driver drove over the train tracks and got stuck on a broken track, the railroad company may be liable for negligent maintenance.
If a car is hit by a train because the railroad crossing signal was not working, the victim or his family may be able to hold the railroad company liable.
The first step in establishing liability is determining who owns and operates the train or railroad tracks involved in your injury. As we stated above, many of the trains are owned and operated by MTA; however, many different parties may be liable.
Multiple parties can make your case even more complicated. Our attorneys can examine your case and find all liable parties.
Once you have established liability, you must be able to prove that party’s negligence caused your injuries. An example of negligence in a train accident is a conductor or operator becoming intoxicated and failing in his duty to perform his job properly.
If you are able to prove negligence, you will be eligible to recover compensation for any damages the liable party caused.
It is important to note that if you played a role in your injuries, your percentage of fault will decrease your settlement amount. For example, if the defendant can prove that you were running around the train intoxicated at the time of the crash — and that your injuries would not have been as severe if you were standing still or sitting down — you may recover less compensation.
Note: In many cases against government-owned entities, you must file a notice of your intention to file a claim against the defendant within 90 days. If you overstep this time limit, the law may bar you from recovering compensation.
Potential Injuries and Damages in a Train Accident
Train accidents do not just affect people on the train; a train accident can injure anyone nearby as well. Train and railroad accidents can cause many types of severe or fatal injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic amputations
- Head injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Blunt force trauma
Survivors of train accidents are often left with permanent disabilities and might be unable to return to work due to their injuries. Ensure that your settlement amount covers all of the following before accepting:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Permanent disability and medical needs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral expenses (if the victim died from his or her injuries)
The ability to collect these damages rests on proving another party was negligent in ensuring your safety in and around trains and railroads.
In cases where you suspect mechanical or operator error caused the accident, you might need an expert in train mechanics and operation to testify regarding the cause of the accident. These experts are not readily available to the average person, but our train accident attorneys can easily acquire them for your case.
Buttafuoco & Associates is the legal team you need to handle the investigation and negotiation of your train injury case. We offer free consultations to new clients where we will explain your situation, identify potential areas of negligence, and determine if you can seek damages from a liable party.
Contact us now at 1-800-NOW-HURT so we can begin protecting your right to recovery.