Mississippi Train Accident Lawyer
Earlier this year, four people lost their lives and dozens more were critically injured when a train collided with a charter bus in Biloxi. Initial reports revealed that the bus was stopped on the tracks despite the presence of flashing lights and crossing gates. Unfortunately, these types of tragic accidents are not uncommon in Mississippi. In fact, there had been 16 accidents at the same crossing, the most recent of which occurred two months prior. Concerns have since been raised that the track itself, which is on an embankment and has low ground clearance poses serious safety risks. These types of crossing collisions are on the rise across the country and can have devastating consequences for victims and their families, so if you were injured in an accident, you should consider retaining an experienced train accident lawyer in Mississippi who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.
What Causes Train Accidents?
Train accidents have a number of different causes, although the most common involve one or more of the following factors:
- Conductor error, such as traveling at unreasonably high speeds or ignoring safety signals;
- Mechanical failure caused by a defective part or a lack of maintenance and repair;
- Track defects, such as broken rails;
- Lack of visibility caused by overgrown foliage and shrubbery;
- Unsafe railroad crossings caused by a lack of warning signs, barriers, and signals;
- Vehicles stalling on the tracks at railroad crossings; and
- A lack of training provided to railway employees.
Although collisions between trains and vehicles, pedestrians, or other trains do occur, the most common train accidents fall under the category of derailments. Derailments, which occur when a train leaves the tracks, have a variety of causes, although most can be attributed to track defects, such as broken rails and welding. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has also revealed that the following problems also regularly cause derailments across the country:
- Problems with track geometry, including train alignment;
- Elevation and gauge issues;
- Bearing failure;
- Broken wheels;
- Buckled tracks;
- Axle defects; and
- Train handling.
Although all of these factors could potentially play a role in causing a train to derail, track failure accounted for almost a third of all train accidents.
Preventing Track Failure
Fortunately, track failure can be largely prevented through regular maintenance and inspections. In fact, federal law requires railroad companies to comply with a series of rules regarding track inspection and repair. For example, most railway companies must inspect track crossings, switches, and turnouts, on foot and at least once a month. These inspections can help catch minor problems, most of which are caused by regular wear and tear before they become dangerous safety issues. The most common examples of wear and tear that indicate a need for repair or replacement include:
- Flaking or chipped steel;
- Burned rails;
- Broken welding;
- Malfunctioning switches;
- Bolt hole cracks;
- Breaks and cracks in the base of rails;
- Fractures in the rail heads themselves; and
- Flattened rails.
Human error is another of the most common causes of train collisions. Whether due to negligence, a lack of training, or a reckless disregard of the rules, mistakes can have deadly consequences. Most train accidents caused by human error involve the following problems:
- Improperly aligning railroad switches;
- Failing to comply with orders;
- Braking improperly;
- Failing to secure or release hand brakes;
- Giving improper instructions to the crew; and
- Falling asleep while operating the train.
When a train or railroad employee exhibits this type of negligence, he or she puts hundreds of people at risk. Fortunately, the at-fault parties can be held liable for damages, which could include compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses, including the cost of treatment and rehabilitation;
- Lost wages incurred as a result of the injured party’s inability to work;
- Future loss of income if the injured party loses his or her life or is permanently disabled as a result of injuries sustained in the accident;
- Property damage sustained in the accident;
- Pain and suffering endured by the injured party as a result of the accident;
- Emotional distress suffered by the victim’s loved ones; and
- Funeral services or burial costs if the injured party passes away from his or her injuries.
Although recovering damages cannot compensate someone for the loss of a loved one, it can go a long way towards helping victims and their families start the long road to recovery.
Call an Experienced Mississippi Train Accident Lawyer Today
To speak with a train accident attorney who can evaluate your case for free, please contact Pottroff & Karlin, LLC at 785-539-4656 today. We are eager to help you recover the compensation that you deserve.