According to preliminary data provided by Operation Lifesaver, there were 2,228 railroad accidents reported nationwide in 2019. When a train accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating. This raises an important question: Why do railroad accidents happen? While there are many different causes, most train accidents share an important common characteristic: They could have been prevented with proper care. Here, our train accident lawyers highlight some of the most common causes of railroad accidents in the United States.
Five Common Causes of Railroad Accidents
- Broken or Poorly Maintained Rails
Derailments account for the majority of railroad accidents. By some measures, derailments make up more than 90 percent of all train accidents reported nationwide. Although derailments can occur in many different circumstances, track problems are a huge area of concern. In fact, a recent report cited by Scientific American found that broken rails are the leading cause of train derailments nationwide.
- Failure to Conduct Proper Maintenance
Railroad companies have a basic legal responsibility to ensure that their fleet of trains is in proper working order. When companies cut back on inspections and/or maintenance, the consequences can be catastrophic. Railroad companies should never put profits before public safety. A large number of train accidents happen because of a company’s failure to conduct proper maintenance.
- Speeding Trains (Especially in Residential Areas)
Federal regulations limit the speed of trains. Beyond that, conductors have an overriding responsibility to operate their train at a safe speed. Not only does speeding increase the risk of train derailment, it also increases the risk of a railroad crossing accident. Trains must take additional care when passing through residential or highly trafficked areas.
- Unprotected Railroad Crossings
Railroad crossing accidents are incredibly dangerous. A poorly marked, poorly designed, or unprotected railroad crossing raises the risk of an accident. There are still many unprotected railroad crossings located throughout the country. Indeed, some studies have found that as many as 80 percent of railroad crossings in the United States lack comprehensive safety protections. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a railroad crossing collision, contact our train accident attorneys for help.
- Driver or Pedestrian Error
Finally, it is worth noting that some train accidents happen because of reckless, careless, or otherwise unsafe actions by drivers or pedestrians. Under federal law, all train accidents are subject to a comprehensive investigation. In some cases, part (or all) of the blame may be assigned to a party not associated with the operation of the train, such as a driver or pedestrian.
Call Our Railroad Accident Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At Pottroff & Karlin, LLC, our railroad accident lawyers are experienced, results-focused advocates for train accident victims and their families. You deserve exceptional legal representation. As the only law firm in the country that devotes 90 percent of its caseload to railroad accidents, we are more than ready to protect your rights. Contact us now for a free, no-commitment case evaluation. Our firm provides nationwide representation.