Louisiana Train Accident Lawyer
Over the last few years, Louisiana has repeatedly made the list of the states with the most train accidents. In fact, in a recent year, Louisiana had the fourth highest rate of train collisions and injuries in the country. These statistics are alarming because train accidents tend to have such devastating consequences. Victims often suffer catastrophic injuries that leave them permanently disabled and struggling with chronic pain for the rest of their lives, while others tragically lose their lives as a result of their injuries.
Treating train accident injuries can also quickly drive victims and their families into debt, a problem that is compounded by the fact that many injured parties are unable to work for months or years after their accidents. Fortunately, negligent railway companies, employees, and third parties can be held liable for damages, including compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage, so if you were involved in a railway accident, it is critical to speak with an experienced Louisiana train accident lawyer who can help you file a claim against the responsible party.
Types of Train Accidents
Like car accidents, railway accidents can occur in a variety of different situations and for a number of different reasons. There are, however, a few types of railway accidents that occur most often, including:
- Collisions with pedestrians or vehicles;
- Collisions between trains;
- Derailments, which occur when a train leaves the tracks; and
- Railway crossing accidents.
The type of accident in which a train is involved has a significant impact on the severity of the injuries sustained by victims. Single train crashes, for example, caused by mechanical error may result in only minor injuries, while collisions between two trains almost always have catastrophic, and often deadly consequences.
Although train accidents can occur for any number of reasons, they are almost always the result of at least one party’s negligence. Some of the most common causes include:
- Mechanical failure;
- Defective railway design;
- Improper equipment maintenance;
- Operator error, such as traveling at an excessive speed when approaching a railroad crossing;
- Excessive cargo loads;
- Fatigued, distracted, or intoxicated operators;
- Obstruction on the tracks;
- Inspection violations;
- Signal errors;
- Inadequate signs at crossings; and
- Poor maintenance of the tracks themselves.
These types of errors are especially frustrating for victims and their loved ones, as they are usually preventable. In fact, both state and federal law require railway companies, conductors, and other railway employees to comply with specific regulations to help ensure passenger safety.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is charged with promoting and regulating safety throughout the country’s railroad industry. To this end, the agency employees 400 federal safety inspectors, regional administrators, chief inspectors, grade crossing safety managers, safety inspectors, and supervisory specialists, all of whom are required to implement and enforce safety regulations regarding:
- Hazardous materials and cargo;
- Operating practices;
- Signal and train control;
- Track maintenance and safety; and
- Motive power and equipment.
Track maintenance and inspections are especially crucial to preventing train accidents, so the FRA requires railroad companies to inspect all of their track crossings, moveable bridge lift rails, turnouts, and switches at least once a month. As part of the inspection process, companies are also required to control the vegetation along their tracks, as allowing trees and shrubbery to grow unchecked could obscure the vision of train engineers.
Inspections are also instrumental in helping railway employees catch and rectify any rail defects before they became severe enough to cause a train to derail. Most defects are simply the result of wear and tear, or repeated expansion and contraction of the rails caused by changes in temperature. The most common defects manifest as fissures or fractures in the rail heads, bolt hole cracks, cracks in the base, flaking steel, and burned rails. By conducting regular inspections, railway companies can help ensure that these types of problems are fixed before they become dangerous.
Railway companies must also ensure that their equipment is properly maintained and regularly replaced. This includes making sure that warning signals are operational and that dangerous crossings are upgraded.
When train accidents are the result of a railway company’s negligence in maintaining its tracks, inspecting its equipment, hiring, or training, it can be held liable for resulting damages. However, many collisions can be attributed to pedestrians and drivers, who decide to cross the tracks illegally. In these cases, the negligent driver or his or her employer can be required to compensate the victims for their injuries. In some situations, the state or city itself could be at-fault, if it was responsible for railway upkeep.
Call an Experienced Train Accident Lawyer in Louisiana
To speak with a dedicated Louisiana train accident attorney about your own case, please contact the legal team at Pottroff & Karlin, LLC by calling 785-539-4656 for a free consultation. Our dedicated attorneys are eager to assist you today.