Train and subway accidents are not as common compared to other accidents using other modes of transportation. As a result, many people do not view them as a significant threat. However, most of them, when they do happen, they leave the victims with catastrophic injuries, and in many cases, death. When a train or subway accident happens, getting compensated for your damages from the responsible party can be challenging.
The state of Florida is a no-fault state, where an accident victim can seek compensation from their insurance coverage. When damages are significant, however, one can seek compensation from the party at fault. While pursuing your deserved damages, involving a lawyer is crucial to ensure your claims are not denied. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we are committed to helping our clients receive the damages they deserve when involved in an accident.
Causes of Train and Subway Accidents
Multiple reasons exist why train and subway accidents occur. The most common area where these accidents occur is when cars try to beat an oncoming train at a crossing. When accidents happen, often drivers, passengers, and sometimes passersby are involved. Some of the prevalent causes of these accidents are:
Negligence can be blamed on various entities. The railway or subway company can be negligent, or a railway or subway employee behaved negligently. Some government agencies can also be found to be negligent in their duties. Parts or equipment manufacturers can also be found to be negligent, resulting in the accident.
An example of negligence would be the improper operation of the crossing arm. Additionally, an operator can negligently or carelessly forget or fail to have the signal light on that is supposed to warn people adequately.
The use of outdated technology or old equipment today can be blamed for accidents as well. With the advancement of technology, there is a lot that would go to improving the safety of trains and subways. However, the hefty investment required often discourages the adaptation of the new technology in the market.
2. Human Error
Inexperienced conductors can also be responsible for some train and subway accidents. Experienced conductors can also make mistakes that could result in injuries on passengers or other people. Fatigue is also another concern that often leads to conductors making these mistakes. Working for long hours will often lead these employees to make mistakes they would otherwise not have made if they were well-rested and alert. Unfortunately, pressure from their superiors often makes them work these long hours that lead to mistakes due to exhaustion.
The operators of the trains or subways can also make mistakes that result in accidents. Exhaustion from working for long hours will often result in their making poor decisions or judgment. Impaired reactions due to fatigue often occur in accidents that would otherwise be avoided.
3. Careless Drivers and Pedestrians
Train or subway accidents are not always due to the recklessness of their operators or companies. Sometimes, when a pedestrian or driver is reckless and distracted, they may cause the accident. A pedestrian with a lot on their mind can walk aimlessly and unfortunately walk into the railway line while the train is very near. A train or subway does not stop like a car or a regular vehicle. When a pedestrian suddenly steps into the railway line, the train is likely to crash on to them.
Car drivers or motorcyclists can also be responsible for these accidents. When they come upon a crossing, and a train is approaching, they feel it a waste of time to wait for the subway to pass. Often, they believe the speed of the train is not so fast, and they can cross the line before it gets to them. Unfortunately, their miscalculations often result in the train crashing into them.
A train is large and an impact will result in substantial injuries or death. Most of the individuals involved in these accidents suffer life-altering conditions that will cost them thousands of dollars in treatment costs. Railway lines are some of the areas that pedestrians and motorists must exercise extra precaution to avoid these devastating accidents.
4. Mechanical Failure
Sometimes, a train or subway accident can still happen despite the company and its employees doing everything to ensure safety is a priority, and all the rules are followed. Although mechanical failures rarely occur, when they do, they can result in accidents. A faulty part can cause a breakdown of the subway or train while it is moving and cause a crash.
Trains and subways have many parts that move together for it to function. Due to this complexity, all these parts must work in perfect harmony to ensure the provision of electric and locomotive power. If equipment like the rail switch a rail signal fails to operate as it should, a deadly accident may happen. The brakes of a subway or train can also fail, making it impossible for it to stop where it should.
5. Fast Moving Trains
Trains can also move at very high speeds, which can lead to the operators being unable to control them when faced with an emergency. High rates also make it possible for trains to be derailed from the tracks and end up causing severe accidents. Trains, just like vehicles, are discouraged from moving at such high speeds because of the danger that results.
6. Damaged Tracks
Obstructions on the tracks are common challenges that would cause a train or subway to be derailed. When foreign objects are left carelessly on the tracks, they result in serious accidents happening. Conductors are encouraged to check their surroundings where they can to ensure such things are not available to result in an accident. The public is also asked not to leave dangerous items on the tracks because of their potential danger.
When a train goes off its rail, this is derailment. This happens when the train or subway comes into collision with an object, error on the part of the conductor, mechanical failure of the track, defective wheels, or broken rails. Derailment does not always mean the train gets off its tracks because it can be a minor one. When derailment is significant, however, catastrophic consequences arise, especially when the train is moving at high speeds.
8. When Railroad Crossings are Unprotected
Many railroad crossings lack sufficient warning devices like gates and lights. Most railroad accidents happen in these areas where the crossings are unprotected. The causes of accidents at intersections that are unprotected are:
- Distracted drivers
- Malfunctioning signals
- Poor visibility
- When some obstacles block the driver’s view
- Intoxicated driver
- When the train or subway conductor fails in sounding the alarm
- When a vehicle driver tries to race a train
9. When Cars Stall on the Railway Line
Vehicles hardly get stuck on railway crossings. However, when drivers slow down to cross bumps, they can stall when their vehicle engines are poorly tuned. When this happens, a driver tries to restart the car immediately. If a train or subway was nearby, there might be no enough time to push it away or rescue you, ending up in an accident. When a car stalls and one is not able to have it moved as soon as possible, on seeing an approaching train, it is best to get out and run as far away as possible. A driver must understand their safety is more important than that of their car.
As unfortunate as this is, people do attempt or commit suicide on the tracks. Some people stand on the trails or wait to see a train approaching and jump on the tracks. This is a dangerous practice because not only does the victim lose their lives, it endangers other people as well.
Catastrophic Injuries Due to Train and Subway Accidents
As earlier stated, accidents by trains or subways often result in devastating injuries, especially for the victims that are hit compared to the passengers. The forceful impact and the size of the train often result in severe injuries to those involved. Some of the catastrophic consequences or injuries from these accidents include:
Not only are bones broken following such an accident, but they also are shattered. This means that most limbs cannot be saved. In some, surgical procedures may be necessary to put a plate that helps reconstruct the limb.
In many cases, the victims will lose their limbs and have to get prosthetics. This is, of course, a permanent injury to the victim, meaning they will not function as they used to before the accident. The cost of treating these injuries and prosthetics can be substantially high, destroying the victim’s finances.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The impact of the train on a victim’s head, especially when they were pedestrians, can be catastrophic. A pedestrian, even a vehicle driver, has no protective gear over their head. As a result, the crash is direct to their body. The forceful impact can result in the victim’s skull breaking, resulting in significant brain injuries. These injuries, in most cases, leave the victim in a vegetative state where he or she will require medical care for the rest of their lives. This is costly and devastating to both the victim and their family.
Traumatic Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
The forceful impact when train or subway accidents occur often results in traumatic injuries to the backs or spines of the victims. As a result, the victims suffer from partial or full paralysis. This leaves them in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. The suffering and pain such victims have to endure for the rest of their lives is devastating.
Internal Organ Injuries
Whether you are a passenger in a train or subway or you are hit by a train, you can suffer catastrophic internal injuries. Internal bleeding, damages to the liver, kidney, or other organs can be fatal if not treated fast. These injuries are common with passengers when they are thrown against the body of the train and are hit. These damages can also leave the victim with lifetime injuries that are expensive to treat.
Although death is not an injury, it is an extreme consequence of a train and a subway accident. A victim of an accident can die at the scene or later due to the injuries sustained.
Liability in Train and Subway Accidents in Florida
Trains and subways are categorized as common carriers because they transport people and cargo for profit. As a result, they are typically held in higher regard when it comes to ensuring the safety of their passengers, cargo, and other persons. The law expects black boxes to be installed in every locomotive. This is an essential device because it records information about what is happening on the train. When an accident occurs, this device usually records crucial information that is reviewed to help determine fault.
The railway or railway companies have a responsibility to ensure safety. However, despite their best efforts, accidents still happen, with some not always being their fault, as discussed earlier.
In determining fault, however, the cause of the accident must be established. This is important to avoid people trying orchestrating accidents for insurance fraud. The state of Florida expects a victim to seek damages from their insurance coverage for personal injury or property damage. When the cover cannot cover all the losses incurred, the victim can sue the at-fault party for damages.
Florida also uses the comparative negligence law in awarding damages. This means that when a pedestrian was careless or negligent, and his or her negligence resulted in the accident, they carry partial blame. This does not, however, mean that they fail to receive their damages. However, the costs they receive are calculated according to their degree of fault.
Regardless of whose fault it is, a victim of a train and subway accident will be awarded for the damages incurred. Hiring a lawyer that is knowledgeable about train and subway accident compensation is crucial to receiving your losses. Your lawyer knows how to analyze the circumstances of the accident and help determine fault. If you are apportioned a significant percentage of responsibility, it means you will receive fewer damages. For a victim to avoid being wrongly faulted for the accident, hiring a lawyer is essential.
Filing a Damage Claim Following a Train and Subway Accident in Florida
As earlier stated, when involved in an accident in Florida, you can still be compensated by your insurance policy. This means you can have your medical bills, among others, taken care of even if you are pursuing the damages from the at-fault party. If your cover cannot exhaustively take care of your costs, this is the time to seek compensation from the other party.
After an accident, the police are informed and come to the scene where they write a report of the accident. Pictures of the scene and the possible cause of the accident is established. Police also arrange for emergency rescue for the victims to be treated. Once you can, the police may interview you to get your side of the story. Ensure to tell your doctor you were involved in a train crash so that a detailed report of your injuries is generated.
A medical report is one of the most crucial documents that accompany your claim for damages. Your doctor must take into account all the injuries you have sustained, their severity, and methods of treating them. Any medical procedures used and medications administered must all be comprehensively written down. If your injuries require a lifetime of care or extended periods of treatment, this must be documented in the medical report.
When your lawyer files for your damages, having every necessary document or evidence supporting the claims goes a long way in helping you receive your rightful compensation. Your lawyer will provide evidence showing that you were involved in the accident, who was at fault, and the damages you incurred as a result.
Should the at-fault party’s insurance decline your claim, your lawyer can file a petition in court seeking the damages. The complexity of the legal process makes it essential to have an attorney represent you and fight for your losses.
Recoverable Damages After a Train and Subway Accident
The state of Florida allows victims of accidents to recover both economic and noneconomic damages when involved in an accident. Economic costs are not highly contested, especially when they are within reason, and supporting documents are sufficient. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are challenged because they carry a more significant share of the costs. Any documents do not support these damages; neither is there a set formula for being compensated. Below, we discuss these recoverable losses in detail.
These, as earlier stated, are losses or costs a victim incurs as a result of the accident and are supported by tangible evidence. Some of these include:
- Current and Past Medical Bills – Immediately you are involved in an accident, you will automatically seek medical attention for the injuries. The cost of treatment for the injuries you sustained is compensated. If the injuries occurred a few months before filing a claim, the medical expenses then and any current ones must be paid. The doctor, in their report, must indicate all the medications, medical procedures used, and the injuries sustained. Always remember that the insurance company before they compensate you, they will investigate your claim. Ensure your medical report is authentic to avoid being sued for medical fraud or your request being denied.
- Future medical Bills – Train and subway accidents, on many occasions, result in catastrophic injuries. These injuries can leave a victim dependent on medical care for an extended period. Victims that are left in a vegetative state also require round the clock medical care for as long as they are alive. In such a case, a victim can seek compensation for medical bills in the future due to the injuries.
- Lost Wages – As you recover from your injuries, you may miss work for prolonged periods, especially with catastrophic injuries. For the time, you will not be earning an income; you are entitled to receive compensation for the income you lose. As you present a claim for lost wages, you must attach a letter from your employer stating your salary. The number of days you have missed work and how much you would have earned over that period is calculated. If your doctor recommends that you will miss work for much longer, this must be included in the comprehensive doctor’s report to receive compensation.
- Lost Capacity to Earn – Catastrophic injuries often render victims incapacitated or unable to work again for the rest of their lives. A calculation is done on how much they would have earned for the rest of their lives. The compensation, in this case, will depend on the victim’s age, how much they were making, the possibility of promotion, among other things.
- Funeral and Burial costs – When a loved one dies following a train or subway accident, the surviving family can seek compensation for the expenses of burying them.
These kinds of damages are different from the economic ones because any documents do not support them. How the damages are awarded depends on the case. These damages are not quantifiable, and there is no guideline as to how much one can seek and be awarded. Some of the losses include:
- Wrongful death – When a person dies as a result of a train or subway accident, the surviving family can seek compensation for their death. However, no one can dictate the value of a human being’s life. The amount each victim may obtain as compensation will vary from one person to the next.
- Pain and suffering – When a victim suffers these injuries, the pain and suffering they undergo can be excruciating. The law allows an accident victim to be compensated for their suffering and even physical pain they go through. This kind of damage is often paid at a higher amount compared to others, making it more contentious.
- Mental Anguish – The emotional pain a train and subway accident victim suffers is also compensated. The victim may require psychological therapy to deal with the trauma of the accident. No one can quantify how much the victim was psychologically affected by the disaster as well.
Find a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Near Me
A train or subway accident often results in catastrophic injuries requiring hefty amounts of money in treatment. Aside from the injuries, the other consequences of the accident are often life-altering. If fault is not well established, a victim can have their claim denied. This makes it crucial to have an experienced lawyer to pursue these damages on your behalf. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we have pursued claims for clients involved in this type of an accident successfully. Call our team at 904-494-8242, and let us discuss your claim further.