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March 2, 2023

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train accident statistics and injuries and fatalities

Every year, thousands of people die in train accidents. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100 railroad crossing collisions every day. More than 3,000 people die from these accidents each year, and many others suffer severe injuries. Here, we review train accident statistics from recent data involving injuries and deaths/

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for railway victims hurt while riding trains, crossing railroad tracks, and those exposed to toxic chemicals from a derailment.

Contact a train accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Every year, train accidents take away a lot of precious lives, leaving many families without their loved ones. The National Transportation Safety Bureau reports that a train hits a vehicle or person in the U.S. every two hours.

These train derailments and accident statistics are quite alarming, considering some people travel on trains regularly. Did you know a thousand people die in train accidents every year? Rail accidents kill people and lead to derailments that further result in damage to luggage and chemical spills.

Some of these spills on urban and rural railways are so serious that residents from the area have to be evacuated for their safety. After train-related accidents, victims have the option to get legal counsel from a reliable and experienced lawyer to determine their next plan of action.

Federal Train Accident Statistics: Rail Accidents

Most people do not consider train collisions and other accidents to be serious because they are not as common as accidents involving other vehicles. However, it does not mean that we have to overlook the gravity of train crashes.

There are nearly 600 railroads and 209,000 rail crossings used by hundreds of commuter trains, subways, and trams in the U.S. Accidents on these railroads lead to loss of life and cause severe injuries to victims.

If you are a railroad accident victim, you have to make sure that a reliable and competent lawyer is by your side because railroad companies do not want to be held liable for such a huge loss. Thus, their insurance company and lawyers will do their best to reduce your benefits as much as possible.

Federal Railroad Administration Train Accident Statistics

Train crashes are more common than most people believe them to be. Here are some train derailment and accident statistics to give you an idea:

  • The Federal Railroad Administration [1] reports the occurrence of 11,896 train crashes in 2014 at railroad crossings. These accidents led to thousands of people getting injured and 804 deaths on freight or commuter railroads and Amtrak.
  • Reports also show that trains kill at least one person every 100 minutes, which is quite a large number. Every year, it calculates to thousands killed in train wrecks.
  • More than 50% of all rail accidents have happened at crossings that were not protected sufficiently in recent years.
  • Someone in a car or truck colliding with a train is 40 times more likely to die than if they had collided with another vehicle
  • It is alarming and concerning that over 80% of railroad crossings in the country do not have adequate warning devices, such as gates or lights. It is mainly because the number of accidents taking place at rail crossings is so high.
  • Train accidents do not only result in deaths. In the U.S., a train containing hazardous materials derails from the freight railroads every two weeks.

The Odds of Dying in Train-Related Accidents

Since train crashes are so common in the U.S., the odds of dying in a collision must be high too. Well, that is what you might think. However, this is not true since modern trains have more rail safety features built to safeguard the passengers.

Although fatalities are not as common, serious injuries in train crashes happen abundantly.

According to Statista [2], you have a one in 243,756 chance of dying in a train crash as a passenger. The chances of someone dying in a railway vehicle are the lowest compared to all other vehicles, including air and space transportation, heavy vehicles, buses, motorcycles, cars, etc.

How Many Train Accidents Happened in 2020?

In 2020, people did not take the train as commonly as they used to due to the pandemic. As a result, there was a decline in the number of railroad deaths and train crashes.

Still, 757 people died [3] in train crashes in 2020, a 12% decrease from 2019, when the death toll was 862. Aside from that, the nonfatal injuries in train wrecks were recorded at 5,479, a 33% decline from 2019, when the count was 7,983.

Types of Train Accidents

The types of train accidents that commonly take place include:

  • Damage to property
  • Train-person collision
  • Train-train collision
  • Train-car collision
  • Derailment

All these accidents lead to substantial damage, depending on who is involved and the severity of the situation.

Many people wrongly believe that the train would stop in time if their car were to stall on the railway track. However, this does not happen since a train traveling at 50 miles an hour will take a mile or longer to come to a stop.

The U.S. Department of Transportation [4] reports that 5,800 train-car collisions occur in the country every year. Most of these accidents take place at railroad crossings, leading to 600 deaths and 2,300 injuries.

The major reason behind most of these accidents being so severe is the lack of railway safety devices. In instances where safety devices are available, they are either defective or inadequate.

Most of the technology used in railroads was developed decades ago. It has not been upgraded since then, raising the risk of accidents and derailments.

In daytime accidents, it has been seen that the train hits the car in 75% of the situations. On the other hand, in nighttime accidents, the car hits the train half of the time. Therefore, you must drive carefully and make sure you look both ways at a train crossing.

It is not only trains and other vehicles involved in railroad accidents but also pedestrians. In the past few years, the number of pedestrians who have become victims of rail accidents has increased. The railroad employee injury and death rates have risen dramatically too.

Broken Welds and Rails

The most common type of train wreck is derailment due to broken welding and rails. The Federal Railroad Administration reports [5] that broken rails cause most of the train crashes in the U.S. They are the reason behind more than 15% of all train crashes in the country.

Apart from that, railroad accidents involving other cars and pedestrians are due to human error and negligence.

The State With the Most Train Accidents

Judging from the national train accident statistics, one can see the patterns. Some states are more susceptible to train crashes and derailments than others, possibly due to the lack of development in the railway sector.

According to reports [6], Texas has the most train collisions concerning highway-rail grade crossings collisions, precisely 191 every year. The second state on the list is California, with 150 train collisions. Georgia has 103 collisions, while Illinois has 98.

As for fatalities, California has the highest number of deaths in train crashes, standing at 39 deaths in 2020. Meanwhile, 11 people died in train crashes and derailments in Texas, while 16 people died in Florida in railroad incidents that same year.

In Texas, 69 people were injured in train accidents in 2020, while there were 55 injured people in California and 33 in Georgia.

In this list of the top 15 states with the most train accidents in 2020, Michigan was at the bottom with 40 train crashes. No one died in Michigan due to highway-rail grade crossings collisions, although 16 passengers were injured.

The Operation Lifesaver report indicates that 65% of all railroad accidents in the U.S. occurred in these 15 states.

These figures are quite concerning for the residents of those states, especially those who use the train regularly. If you or a loved one has been in a train-related accident, you should get legal help as soon as possible to make sure you are compensated for all your damages.

Causes of Train Accidents

A railroad accident could be caused due to many reasons. For one, the railroad system needs an upgrade since it is still using age-old technology and gets little attention from local and federal governments.

However, it is not always the outdated technology that is at fault. In many cases, the drivers and passersby are negligent, which is why they end up colliding with the train to “beat” it to the rail crossing intersection.

A train crash can have more than one cause, but here are some common reasons behind railroad accidents:

  • Suicides
  • Negligence
  • Human error
  • Trains traveling at high speed
  • Mechanical failure
  • Reckless drivers
  • Reckless pedestrians
  • Derailments
  • Defective tracks
  • Stalled cars on the tracks
  • Unprotected railroad crossings

The freight rail industry experiences significant losses every year due to derailments caused by defective tracks and mechanical failures. At the same time, more than half of these accidents also lead to injuries and fatalities.

The railroad industry operating commuter rail lines and freight lines have a legal obligation to ensure that passengers and railway workers remain safe. Therefore, all locomotives have installed a black box, a recording device that documents information necessary to review what occurred during an accident.

In response, the freight rail industry in the United States has been implementing its PTC (Positive Train Controls) technology to minimize catastrophic accidents across 60,000 miles of the nation’s rail network. PTC aims to avoid trains colliding with other trains, excessive speed deflections, and derailments in areas undergoing maintenance operations.

The network is operated by commuters and freight railroads hauling passengers, goods, and hazardous materials and is widely considered the cornerstone of commerce in the United States.

As evident from the causes, many train crashes can be avoided if people are careful, especially near a railway crossing. Unfortunately, however, some accidents are inevitable as they are caused by the railroad company’s negligence or speeding trains.

If you have been a victim in a train wreck, make sure you get appropriate legal assistance to be compensated for your physician, monetary, and punitive losses.

Hire a Train Accident Attorney to Handle Your Case Today

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a Chicago-based law firm specializing in personal injury claims involving serious train crash injuries. The firm represents passengers who were hurt in train incidents.

Were you a passenger, train operator, railroad worker, or hazardous materials employee of a railroad company hurt in a train crash? If so, contact us so that we may gather the information necessary to investigate your claim.

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation immediately to pursue compensation. All confidential or sensitive information shared with our personal injury lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

If our train accident lawyers cannot recover compensation on your behalf for any reason, our time and resources will be cost-free through a contingency fee agreement.

Resources: [1] Federal Railroad Administration, [2] Statista, [3] Injury Facts, [4] U.S. Department of Transportation, [5] Federal Railroad Administration, [6] Operation Lifesaver

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