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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Our nation’s massive network of railroads and train tracks winds through rural environments and populated urban areas, taking commuters to work and carrying people and goods at great distances. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that a motorist or pedestrian is struck by a train every three hours in the United States.

Many of these accidents cause severe injuries and fatalities when train cars collide with passenger vehicles, buses, bicyclists, or a pedestrian. Our firm has organized the following train accident FAQ to help you if you have been in a similar train accident or have a loved one that was.

An attorney from our firm can talk to you over the phone at (888) 424-5757 if you have an injury or medical expenses from an accident like this and are considering a claim. Every lawyer from our team has worked on accident claims (including those for car and train collisions) obtaining over a million in recovery and we may be able to help you.

Train Accident FAQ

What Causes Most Train Accidents?

Most train accidents involve at least one of the following causes:

  • The derailment caused by a speeding train or defective track
  • Brake failure caused by a defective component or lack of maintenance
  • Improperly loaded cars, merchandise, or freight
  • Hazardous cargo
  • Malfunctioning safety gates
  • A person slipping and falling on a wet surface
  • Electrical shock or electrocution

Train collisions at railroad crossways are common incidents and often occur because the intersection signal never warned drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists of the approaching train. Other times, the signal tripped too late or the driver did not heed the alert at the crossing.

Our train accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have represented hundreds of clients who were injured in accidents like these. Contact our law firm over the phone for a free consultation with a lawyer after a railroad incident to see if you can recover damages or settlement from the responsible person or railroad company involved in the crash.

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How Common Are Train Accident Injuries and Fatalities in Illinois?

According to Illinois Operation Lifesaver [1], approximately 80 people die each year on and around railroad tracks and property. There were 109 collisions between trains and motor vehicles or pedestrians at rail crossways in Illinois in 2018, killing 17 people and seriously injuring 34.

This put Illinois in fifth place among states for number of casualties. Illinois is second only to Texas in its number of rail crossings, with 7,595 public highway-rail crossings and more than 7,300 miles of train track.

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How Many Trains Crashed in 2019?

There were over five thousand train accidents and nearly one thousand deaths in 2019.

Of this number, the negligence of the railroad company was responsible and at fault for the suffering, personal injury, and even wrongful death of the passenger or person involved in the railroad crossing incident.

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What Laws Must a Train Follow as it Approaches a Railroad Crossing?

Train companies have the obligation to provide passengers with the utmost care possible in the circumstances, and, as they approach railroad crossways, ensure that they are under control, a proper lookout is maintained, and other state and national laws are followed, like these:

  • Keep control of the train, especially at the crossing.
  • Keep a proper lookout of the area.
  • Keep all passengers secured in the compartment.
  • Follow other local and state rules.

The government has done many things to try and keep people safe near train crossings. In fact, it has empowered the Federal Highway Administration, a subsidiary of the United States Department of Transportation, with just this legal task.

The Federal Highway Authority Administration [2] implemented the Highway Safety Improvement Program in order to attempt to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on the roads. Section 130 of this Program specifically addresses the issue of train and railway crossing dangers.

Annually, it spends hundreds of millions of dollars on this mission. Since its inception, this program has had some success in reducing deaths and injuries caused by these hazards.

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How Does Federal Law Protect Injured Railroad Workers?

Federal law protects railroad workers injured on the job under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) [3]. Unlike a typical workers’ compensation case, however, this statute affords plaintiffs the right to recover compensation ordinarily available in lawsuits including damages for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other items.

To succeed in this particular action, you must prove the following elements:

  • That you are covered under FELA.
  • The railroad or train company was negligent.
  • That negligence caused your injuries.

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What Compensation Can I Obtain After a Train Accident?

You can receive monetary compensation for your economic damages including medical bills and lost income, your noneconomic damages including pain and suffering, and in some cases also punitive damages or wrongful death damages.

These different types of compensation are designed to provide recovery for different injuries suffered due to the negligence of the person that caused the train accident. Any railroad accident will impact the passenger or pedestrian in a myriad of ways so it is important to identify and prove all of the harm suffered, or to figure out the company responsible for a death if someone was killed at the scene.

Our law firm can create an attorney-client relationship and advocate for your legal rights in accident cases or those of a loved one. A dedicated attorney can help the injured understand their legal claim and see how the negligence of the company was to blame for their injury.

Contact us for a free case evaluation or consultation over the phone to get answers to the important questions you have and review the rest of this train accident FAQ to learn more.

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Who Can I Sue after a Train Accident Occurred?

With a skilled attorney, you may be able to bring accident cases against the individual or company that caused the train accident.

Contact your lawyer or the attorneys of our law firm after the accident occurred, so we can help figure out who injured you and how best to secure your safety and legal rights. It might be hard to prove it but an attorney should begin the process at once after an accident.

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How Long Do I Have to File a Train Accident Case?

With limited exceptions, you generally have two years from the date you sustained injuries in a train accident to bring a lawsuit for negligence in Illinois.

Plaintiffs with personal injury cases in Illinois have two years from the date they were injured to bring a lawsuit for damages (735 ILCS 5/13-202). Those wishing to bring a wrongful death action following the loss of a family member in an accident also have two years to file suit (740 ILCS 180/2). Plaintiffs have five years after an accident to bring a claim for property damage (735 ILCS 5/13-205).

Moreover, these deadlines apply only to private defendants. If you were injured on or by a commuter train operated by a public transit system such as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and are suing the transit operator or related government party, then you have only one year from the time the cause of action accrued to file a personal injury claim. That is the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against a municipal or other public entity in Illinois (745 ILCS 10/8-101).
Talk to an accident attorney on the phone today at (888) 424-5757.

Resources: [1] Illinois Operation Lifesaver, [2] Federal Highway Authority Administration, [3] Federal Employers’ Liability Act

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