Florida Train Accident Lawyer

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in 2016 45 people were killed by trains in Florida, as a result of which the state was ranked third in the country for the highest number of railway injuries and deaths. While many of these tragic accidents were caused by pedestrians and drivers ignoring a crossing gate or a warning, others were the result of the negligence of railroad employees, or the railroad company itself. Filing a claim against these individuals and entities can be difficult, as it requires the careful navigation of both state and federal law, so if you were involved in a train collision, you should consider speaking with an experienced Florida train accident lawyer who can ensure that your interests are protected.

Common Causes

Train accidents can stem from a number of different sources, although the most common include:

  • Poorly designed or marked railroad crossings;
  • Rail defects, such as broken tracks or cracked bolts;
  • Overgrown tracks;
  • Malfunctioning equipment or mechanical failure; and
  • Engineer incompetence or negligence.

Engineers must pay careful attention when operating the controls, while also making sure to obey all signals and speed limits. Even minor lapses in attention can be deadly if they result in excessive speeds and the neglect of signals. Aside from being required to pay damages to the injured parties, a negligent engineer who was intoxicated at the time of the accident can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time and a fine.
Because trains are so large and travel at such high speeds, even minor rail defects or mistakes could have serious consequences, as the injuries sustained in these types of accidents tend to be catastrophic in nature and include crushed or broken bones, burns, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and internal bleeding. Treating these kinds of injuries can be extremely expensive, requiring payment for multiple surgeries, emergency care, physical therapy, medications, and nursing assistance. Tragically, many injuries are so severe that they result in permanent disability or even death.

Establishing Negligence

In Florida, because trains carry large numbers of passengers, they are considered common carriers. For this reason, the railroad industry is highly regulated and is required to operate with the highest degree of care. When an accident results from the failure of a railroad or train company to meet this standard of care, these entities can be held responsible for compensating the victims. However, before an injured party can collect compensation, he or she will need to provide evidence of negligence. Fortunately, railroads are required to install black boxes in all of their trains, which act as electronic recording devices. As a result, properly functioning black boxes will record a train’s speed, how the brakes were used, whether a horn signal was utilized, and what direction the train was traveling prior to the accident. Train signals are also controlled and monitored in dispatch centers across the state. The information obtained from these sources can prove vital to establishing that an engineer or other railroad employee was responsible for an accident.
Plaintiffs who are able to demonstrate that a railroad, train company, or engineer was negligent may be able to collect significant damages, including:

  • Past and future medical bills and home health care costs;
  • Compensation for property damage, such as vehicle repair or replacement;
  • Lost wages, if the victim was unable to work as a result of his or her injuries;
  • Loss of future earning capacity, which can be collected by victims whose injuries are so severe that they are unable to fulfill the job duties required in their previous occupation and must accept lower paying work;
  • Pain and suffering to compensate the victim for both the physical and emotional pain he or she endured as a result of the accident;
  • Wrongful death damages, which can be collected by a victim’s surviving family members; and
  • Funeral or burial costs.

Although collecting damages cannot replace the loss of a loved one, it can help the parties involved begin the long road to recovery by allowing them to obtain the best medical care available and to pay all necessary bills and expenses.

Call Today to Discuss Your Case with a Florida Train Accident Lawyer

At Pottroff & Karlin, LLC, we understand the extreme physical, emotional, and financial toll that catastrophic accidents, such as train collisions can take on victims and their families. For this reason, we dedicate ourselves to helping train accident victims hold the at-fault parties responsible for their actions. To learn more about the services we offer, please contact us today.

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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.

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