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Train / Railroad Accidents

Trains are part of the fabric of life in Chicago. The city is the largest rail hub in the United States, and one of the largest intermodal container ports in the world. More than a trillion pounds of freight move through the city on rail lines each year, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission. Rail lines also are an important way that people get around in Chicago, or how they get into and out of the city. Commuters use Metra and CTA train systems to get to work or to see Chicago’s numerous attractions.

With more than 10,000 places where public highways meet rail lines in Illinois — and a fair number of those in the Chicago area — there are a lot of opportunities for cars and trains to collide, or for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to get hurt when trains derail.

Trains are massive and heavy, especially when freight cars are fully loaded. Even at low speeds, a crash involving a train and a car, cyclist or pedestrian can result in serious or fatal injuries. It’s not uncommon for people involved in accidents with trains to lose limbs or suffer major head trauma if they survive the collision. Injuries can take weeks or months to heal — or cause permanent damage, including paralysis or impaired brain function. The costs associated with these kinds of injuries can be astronomical from the perspective of the average family.

Common Types of Train Accidents

There are a number of ways that a person might be injured in a train-related accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that most accidents in which someone is hurt or killed happen at railroad crossings. That might mean that a signal was faulty or that there were inadequate safety controls, or it might mean that the train conductor was distracted, negligent or just inexperienced. It’s also possible that the driver of a car got impatient and tried to go around the crossing gate thinking he or she could beat the train.

Passengers or bystanders might be injured when a train derails, which could happen because the track was improperly maintained, there was a mechanical failure, or the train was too heavy for the way the tracks were built.

Determining Liability in Railroad Accidents

Train accidents often require complex investigations to figure exactly what happened. Typically when a train is derailed or involved in a collision, a government safety agency will step in and perform an investigation. If you were injured in a train accident, you should consider consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can commission an independent investigation and gather the information and documents you’ll need to pursue a claim for compensation of your injuries.

Depending upon the results of the investigation, you may be able to pursue a claim against the owners of the rail line or the company or agency operating the train. Often those are different entities with different responsibilities in terms of maintenance of the tracks and proper operation of the train. There may be some combination of negligence that means you have to submit claims to multiple insurance policies or file a lawsuit against multiple parties.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Given the complexity of claims stemming from train accidents, your best chance at recovering damages is to seek the help of a personal injury or wrongful death attorney with experience handling these kinds of cases. With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to recover compensation for damages including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of normal life
  • Disability or disfigurement

A qualified train accident attorney will understand the legal and logistical nuances of pursuing these kinds of cases, what kind of evidence you’ll need to support your claim or lawsuit, how to negotiate with numerous parties, or how to file a lawsuit that may involve numerous parties in numerous states. Call Staver Law Group today for a free consultation of your rights in train and railroad accidents at .