Train Accident Lawyers
A train crash or derailment can have life-altering consequences for those affected. Due to the speed and size of a typical train, many crashes or derailments result in catastrophic injuries or death. In cases like the 2023 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, significant environmental damage can occur as well, displacing residents, poisoning their wells, or harming crops and livestock. The Federal Railroad Administration reported 8,928 railroad accidents in 2022 alone. All factors considered, those incidents resulted in 899 fatalities and 5,616 injuries.
Should the unthinkable happen and you or a loved one becomes negatively impacted by such an event, the experienced train accident lawyers at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP are prepared to help. With over 250 years of combined courtroom experience and more than 100,000 cases won, we have the grit and acumen necessary to help victims recover lost wages, pay for medical care, and face the future with confidence. We will support you against railway operators, insurance companies, and opposing legal counsel – whomever may be relevant to your case – and advocate on your behalf to maximize your compensation and preserve your rights. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the expert legal team at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP, call 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.
How a train accident attorney can help
No matter the context, individuals will often have a hard time fighting a corporation in a court of law. This can prove especially true when suing a railroad company. These companies often have a significant amount of experience dealing with litigation, making such cases complex and sometimes arduous. A skilled train accident lawyer would help by thoroughly studying your case to:
- estimate what kind of compensation you could receive as a result of a settlement or trial,
- determine the degree of responsibility the railroad company had in the incident, and
- most importantly, advocate on your behalf to protect your rights.
Any good train accident attorney will be completely honest with you about whether or not you ultimately have a case. At the end of the day, their number one priority should be to make sure that your medical expenses and personal losses are appropriately compensated.
Frequently asked questions about train accident cases
What should I do if I'm involved in a train accident?
If you’re involved in a train accident, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. While this is critical for your health and well-being, it is also important to document your injuries and general health status at the time of the accident. You should also contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and ensure that you have the best chance of receiving compensation for your damages.
Legally, what are railroads responsible for regarding passengers?
When it comes to passengers, railroads have the highest degree of responsibility due to their status as a common carrier. According to the definition of a common carrier obligation, “a rail carrier providing transportation or service subject to the jurisdiction of the [Surface Transportation Board] under this part shall provide the transportation or service on reasonable request.” According to Dan Elliott in an interview with FreightWaves, “At the very heart of the common carrier obligation is the belief that railroads are in a position of unique public trust. They are therefore held to higher standards of responsibility than other private enterprises.” Federal and state regulations require common carriers to operate under the following principles:
- They must comply with all safety laws.
- They must employ the utmost care and consideration in transporting passengers and provide them with essential safety information.
- They must ensure that transportation units are crewed by qualified and competent conductors or drivers.
- They must maintain safe conditions for their vehicles and equipment.
While these rules do not require common carriers to guarantee passenger’ safety, it does mean they may be held liable for damages if an accident occurs and they are proven negligent.
What causes train accidents?
Railroad accidents or derailments can occur under two distinct categories: human error and technological malfunction. Mistakes on the part of an operator, whether due to experience, fatigue, or distraction, can mean catastrophic consequences. Railway companies may also fail to heed safety warnings about old or faulty equipment, resulting in mechanical failure or hazardous material exposure.
What types of train accidents could a lawyer handle?
Our team of seasoned lawyers can handle just about any case involving a train accident. When it comes to these kinds of cases, we typically see the following incidents involving trains:
- Crashes and collisions. Trains may crash into other trains, with automobiles or trucks at vehicle crossing, or with pedestrians.
- Derailments. Train derailments happen when a train’s wheels slip or jump off its tracks. This may occur due to excessive speed, excessive length or weight, poorly maintained or broken rails, or mechanical failure. Derailments are known for their high rates of injury or fatality and may destroy surrounding property or injure additional people in the area of the incident.
- Chemical spills or explosions. Train accidents may pose a public threat due to the cargo that gets damaged or released into the environment, like in the case of the Norfolk Southern incident in East Palestine, Ohio. Harmful or carcinogenic chemicals may leak into the air or drinking water of nearby communities. Flammable or combustible materials may explode, creating the risk of explosions and flying shrapnel and debris.
No matter the type of incident, your lawyer will help you investigate the parties responsible and hold them liable for damages.
What kinds of compensation could result from a train accident case?
Victims may recover two different types of financial compensation from a train crash or derailment case: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are meant to compensate victims for monetary losses associated with the incident. These losses typically include examples like:
- Past and future medical bills
- Property damage
- Medical travel
- Necessary in-home care
- Missed income and lost wages
- Reduced earning potential in the long-term
The economic damages from a train accident can often be quite significant. An expert train accident lawyer can help ensure that you recover the full amount of your damages.
Non-economic damages typically cover losses that are considered subjective or non-monetary. General examples of such damages may include:
- Long-term anxiety, depression, or panic attacks
- Chronic physical pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Disfigurement or disability
- Reduced enjoyment of life
While no amount of monetary compensation can replace what is lost, recovering damages from the responsible party can help prevent further harm and suffering.
What if I lost a loved one in a train accident?
If you lost a loved one in a train accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages. Our team can help you understand your legal options and work to get you the compensation you need to move forward.
How much does a train accident lawyer cost?
In this kind of case, lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they only get paid if you win your case. The fee is usually a percentage of the compensation you receive.
What is FELA?
FELA, or the Federal Employers Liability Act, is a federal law that protects and compensates railroad workers that get injured in the course of their jobs due to negligence on the part of their employers. Passed in 1908, FELA still remains instrumental for protecting the rights of railroad employees.
Should I sign documents from the railroad company or accept a settlement?
Never sign anything without seeking legal counsel. In some cases, you may be waiving your rights to pursue a case against the railroad company, meaning that you will lose any chance to recuperate your damages. Although unlikely, you should likewise never accept a settlement from a railroad operator before consulting a train accident attorney, as you may lose the opportunity to receive the full value of your damages.
How long can I wait to file a claim after a train accident?
In general, the statute of limitations on a personal injury case gives a 2-year window for filing a claim. However, this may vary depending on the party that bears legal responsibility in your potential case and the state where the incident happened. Claims against government agencies can sometimes have different time restrictions than claims against private companies. If you are considering consulting with a lawyer, remember that they will need time to investigate the incident and properly identify the parties that bear legal responsibility. Because of this, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible if you think you may have a case.
How a train accident lawyer would investigate your case
If you book a free consultation with Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP and we determine that you may have a case, our lawyers would methodically walk you through the process of litigation. This can include:
- Investigating the accident: Our team would investigate the incident to determine who was at fault and what caused it. We may work with accident reconstruction experts and other professionals to gather evidence and build a case.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: Our lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your railroad injuries. They can help you navigate the often complex process of dealing with insurance companies and ensure that your rights are protected.
- Representing you in court: If your case goes to court, our lawyers can represent you and advocate for your rights. They have many years of experience in presenting cases and will work diligently to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
While the process of filing a claim and pursuing a legal case can seem overwhelming, our team is devoted to helping our clients recover the losses they have suffered.
How to prepare for a consultation with a train accident lawyer
If you’re considering consulting with a train accident lawyer, it’s important to be prepared for your initial meeting. Here are some tips to help you get ready:
Gather relevant documents: Before your consultation, gather any documents related to the train accident, such as medical bills, police reports, and insurance information. Having this information on hand will help your lawyer better understand the circumstances of the accident and determine the strength of your case.
Write down questions: Make a list of questions you have for the lawyer so that you don’t forget anything during the consultation. Some questions to consider might include: How long do I have to file a claim? What damages can I recover? How much will it cost to hire you?
Be honest and forthcoming: It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with your lawyer during the consultation. Don’t withhold any information that could be relevant to your case, even if it’s embarrassing or uncomfortable to discuss.
Understand your legal rights: Before your consultation, take some time to educate yourself on your legal rights as a victim of a train accident. This will help you better understand the legal advice your lawyer provides and make informed decisions about your case.
Choose the right lawyer: Not all train accident lawyers are created equal. Research potential lawyers to find one who has experience with cases similar to yours and who you feel comfortable working with. Ensure that the firm you choose is open, direct, and honest about the legal process and the strength of your case.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your consultation with a train accident lawyer is productive and informative, and that you’re well-prepared to take the next steps in your case.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation
Because train accidents and derailments can be legally complex cases to pursue, it’s important to have an expert personal injury legal team involved. Our train accident lawyers handle railroad injury and death cases in all 50 states. There is no charge to speak with our attorneys about your situation and legal rights. For more information, call Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP at 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.