When trains are not operated with absolute caution and care, accidents can occur. Because of their incredibly massive size and weight, train accidents are potentially devastating events which can and do result in derailments and toxic spills. The potential for damage in these events is enormous, and they may occur when railroad personnel fail to uphold safety to the fullest capacity. When system safety is not implemented to its highest capacity, it is generally only a matter of time before a train derails. With passenger trains, derailments are nothing short of terrifying and deadly for the victims. Freight train derailments also have their victims, including those who suffer from the effects of toxic spills.
In an industry entrusted with hazardous goods for mass transportation as well as the lives of millions of passengers, system safety and cutting-edge safety engineering must be employed. Trains have the potential to be quite deadly if operated improperly, even in today’s age. Our legal experts are leading advocates for the safe operation of trains, and often take their stand against train companies when they fail to operate with the legally sanctioned requirements for diligence and care. Railroad safety is our mission and passion. If you’ve been a victim, we invite you to discuss your tragic experiences with us – we can help you discern the right course of action to recovery with a free consultation.
Pottroff & Karlin, LLC handles all cases of train accidents including:
We can assist with any type of collision or accident that injures people. Our clients suffer many injuries, including fractures, brain injuries, chemical poisoning, internal injuries, and paralysis, among others.
Major Causes of Train Accidents
Train accidents are common. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that 2022 saw 8,733 accidents across the country, which caused more than 5,000 injuries and 788 deaths. What causes these railroad accidents?
- Train driver negligence: A driver might make some critical error due to fatigue, carelessness, distraction, or lack of skill.
- Mechanical failure: Any part on the train could fail, causing a derailment. For example, a wheel bearing might fail or brakes could work improperly.
- Poor maintenance: The train and tracks require regular inspection and maintenance since they can wear down and malfunction. When maintenance is lacking, accidents occur.
- Negligent or reckless motorists: A motorist might cause an accident by darting onto the tracks; at that point, a collision is impossible to prevent.
- Defective or missing gates or signals: These safety features are critical to preventing accidents, but they could be missing or have fallen into disrepair.
What Steps to Take after a Train Accident
Railroad accidents are traumatic, and many victims are unclear about what steps they should take. Below, we offer our best advice for protecting your health and bolstering your legal claim to compensation:
- Obtain medical care. Immediate care will improve your ability to physically recover. In some train accidents, emergency personnel descend onto the scene to identify the most injured and whisk them away to the emergency room in an ambulance. With other accidents, it’s up to the victims to call 9-1-1 and seek help or transport themselves to the hospital. We recommend not waiting too long to go, even if you feel “fine” following a crash.
- Preserve relevant evidence. The police or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate most accidents. Our lawyers can seek access to this evidence to use for your personal injury claim. Still, you can boost your claim by preserving some evidence at the scene. Take photographs of the accident scene with your phone. Keep any evidence that shows you were on the train, such as your ticket stub.
- Avoid speaking to the train company or insurance adjusters. You will probably receive a phone call after the accident from the train company or its insurer. They might seek details about your injuries or what you remember about the derailment. We recommend you hire a lawyer before you speak with them.
- Do not accept the first settlement offer. You might also be surprised to see a settlement tendered so soon after a crash. Do not accept it without letting a lawyer review it first. The odds are very low that this first offer will be fair. Instead, the train company is trying to get you to sign away your rights to fair compensation.
- Continue with rehabilitation. You want to do everything possible to improve physically and mentally after an accident. If you don’t, the defendant could claim you aren’t “mitigating” your damages, which can decrease the compensation you receive.
Seeking Compensation for a Train Accident
Pottroff & Karlin, LLC, has decades of experience negotiating settlements after a train derailment or collision. Our train accident lawyers will evaluate your injuries and financial losses to determine how much to seek:
- Lost income. Your injuries could prevent you from going back to work immediately, so many of our clients experience substantial income loss. We will argue the defendant should pay to subsidize your lost income or wages.
- Property damage. An accident could have destroyed your car. Similarly, many people suffer property damage to their homes after a toxic spill. The defendant should compensate to fix or replace your damaged property.
- Medical bills and rehabilitation expenses. Our clients typically need thousands of dollars in medical care to treat their injuries. The defendant should cover the costs of treatment, including rehab and prescription medication.
- Pain and suffering. A train accident victim will likely struggle with physical pain and inconvenience. There is also an emotional aspect, including depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Scarring and permanent disabilities. Train accidents are so traumatic that many victims are permanently disabled or impaired. You deserve compensation to try and make up for these permanent losses.
Our legal team will fight to negotiate a solid settlement without the need for litigation. Nonetheless, we are prepared to sue, where necessary, to protect your rights.
Who Do We Sue for Compensation?
At Pottroff & Karlin, LLC, our lawyers carefully canvas the evidence to identify all people responsible for the accident. We can add them as defendants and negotiate with them for a settlement. Some common defendants include:
- Engineers: Careless engineers are responsible for many accidents. Although we can sue them, they often lack the financial resources to pay full compensation. Helpfully, we can usually add other defendants.
- Railroad companies: Railroads are typically responsible when a defect on a train leads to an accident. Rail companies are also liable when a negligent engineer causes a crash.
- Track owners: When a defect on the track leads to a derailment or other accident, the owner is likely responsible. They have to inspect and maintain tracks, as well as lights, bells, and crossing arms. Many tracks are owned by private companies or even the government.
- Manufacturers: Equipment failure causes many accidents, including derailments. The manufacturer could be legally liable when a defect on the train or tracks leads to an accident and injuries.
- Motorists: Some accidents stem from motorists darting onto the tracks and causing a collision. Reckless motorists even drive around crossing guards or arms because they are in a hurry. We can sue these dangerous motorists for your injuries.
Speak with a Train Accident Lawyer Today
Pottroff & Karlin, LLC, is one of the few personal injury firms with experience helping train accident victims. If you have questions about your legal rights, we have answers. We are pleased to offer a free, no-obligation consultation to anyone with questions. Call our expert train accident attorneys today at (785) 539-4656.
Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.
James Perrin Lubbock, Texas
I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.
Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee
Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.
Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana
Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.
Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas
Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.
Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado
Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.
Mike Easley Arkansas
Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.
Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri
In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.
Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana