Railroad Accident Lawyer Says:
Buckle Your Seatbelts
Massive train crashes seem the dramatic stuff of movies
and novels, billowing steam engines destined for disaster, fixed
irreversibly on track to collide. Indeed, in the 19th century train
companies used head-on train collisions as a publicity stunt. The Crush
Crash in Waco, Texas drew so many observers that Waco became, for one night,
the second largest city in the state. Even this staged event ended in
disaster, however, when a boiler burst and the flying debris killed two in
the crowd. Unfortunately, this less-than-dramatic conclusion represents the
reality of train wrecks, and these days that reality is represented in
lawsuits as soon as the smoke clears.
Perhaps modern day railroads do not encounter anything so catastrophic as
the rerouted steam locomotive that caused a mountain to collapse in Ayn
Randís Atlas Shrugged, but train crashes are still a major problem in the
United States. Train crashes injure more than 500 people every year, though
deaths remain relatively rare. Aside from catastrophic collisions, railroad
deaths usually occur at crossings, where the trainís course crosses the path
of car traffic. The chances of dying in a car-train crash are ten times more
likely than dying in a regular car collision.
Settlements with railroad companies for crashes can amount in the
millions of dollars, but this just reflects the severity of injuries
incurred in such accidents. Trains are currently set up in compartments to
reduce the distance people would fly in the event of a major collision.
However, safety experts with the Federal Railroad Association have conducted
full-scale crashes and found that the dummies in such seats were flung up
and over the backs of the seat compartments, some striking luggage racks.
Seatbelts would prevent this sort of injury, but they are not a standard
installment of most trains.
At least half of all the railroad tank cars on the tracks today were
built before 1989 when new regulations required them to be reinforced with
steel. About 30,000 of these tankers have not been rebuilt at all, and no
government agency forces the companies that own these tank cars to spend
money to bring them up to safety standards. This results in another great
railroad danger, as many of these tankers carry dangerous chemicals. Just
this past January, nine people died and an entire geographic region had to
be evacuated from homes, businesses, and schools in South Carolina when a
train collision caused a tanker to leak chlorine gas.
Train wrecks are clearly not an entertaining matter. Because of the
structure of the tracks and signals, train collisions are nearly always due
to negligence, either human error or faulty equipment. As such, any injuries
incurred on a railroad are entitled to compensation and should be discussed
with a lawyer right away.
If you have more questions, contact a
railroad accident lawyer or read about
railroad collisions at
If you use this article, please include these links.