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Chicago Train and Rail Accidents

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After getting hurt or losing a loved one in a railroad accident in Illinois, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Our Chicago train and accident attorneys know the federal and Illinois laws that apply to freight and passenger trains. We’ll thoroughly investigate the train or rail accident to figure out what went wrong, including whether the company violated a law or regulation. We’ll look for any evidence of negligence to use in pursuing compensation for your injuries. We know train accidents often lead to serious and catastrophic injuries. Our goal will be to win you the most compensation possible. Give us a call today at (312) 236-2900 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation.

Types of Train and Rail Accidents We Handle

If you were injured in an accident involving a train, don’t hesitate to call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. We have years of experience handling cases involving passenger and freight trains in Illinois, including involving Metra or the L.

  • Amtrak Accidents
  • Commuter Train Accidents
  • Freight Train Cargo Spills
  • Rail Worker Injuries
  • Railroad Crossing Accidents
  • Train Collisions
  • Train Derailments
  • Train Passenger Injuries
  • Train vs. Pedestrian Accidents

Why Train Accidents Happen

When you get hurt or determine what went wrong, who was at fault, and who is liable for your injuries.

Human error is often the answer. Train engineers who become careless or distracted end up speeding, and in many cases, unable to avoid a collision or properly navigate the track. But the railroad companies are often to blame too. Track and roadbed maintenance is essential, but it’s not prioritized. Issues with the track are common, and they can lead to derailments and other accidents. Mechanical failures are a third common issue. Inadequately inspected and maintained equipment can eventually lead to a dangerous mechanical failure.

Common causes of train and rail accidents include:

  • Inadequate train or rail maintenance
  • Inadequate or lack of inspections
  • Speeding
  • Reckless train engineers
  • Defective equipment
  • Equipment or mechanical failures
  • Spills, garbage, or debris on train platforms
  • Tripping or slipping hazards onboard trains
  • Third-party drivers or pedestrians
  • Unprotected railroad crossings
  • Objects on the tracks
  • Bridge collapse

Who Is Liable for Train and Rail Passenger injuries?

If you were injured while onboard a train or on the platform, talk with a lawyer about your rights. Passenger and freight trains are common carriers. A common carrier is any business that transports people or goods in exchange for money. As a common carrier, a train line, like Metra, or the CTA L, has the highest duty of care toward its passengers.

Under Illinois law, common carriers owe their passengers the highest degree of care that’s consistent with that mode of transportation and its practical operation. You are a passenger when you are boarding, onboard, or exiting the train. After you buy your ticket and make your way to the platform, you become a passenger. You don’t stop being a passenger until after you’ve left the train and the station.

The common carrier’s duty encompasses protecting you from acts by its employees, other passengers, and third parties. It’s liable if you are injured by another party on the train when it reasonably knew or should have known you could get hurt.

All of this is to say, talk with a lawyer about holding the train company responsible if you were injured:

  • Onboard a train
  • While waiting on the platform
  • When getting off the train

Who Is Liable When You Weren’t a Passenger on the Train?

You might be hurt in a train accident as someone in another vehicle or a pedestrian. In this case, the train and railroad companies don’t owe you a special duty of care. They owe you the ordinary duty of care. They should be reasonably careful under the circumstances to avoid causing anyone harm.

After an accident, you’ll need to investigate, uncover who was at fault, and gather evidence to prove their negligence. You might find the company that operated the train or owned the track was at fault, or might be another motorist, pedestrian, or municipality responsible for a bridge or crossing.

Railroads in Illinois

Illinois has an extensive rail system, including 9,982 miles of tracks. Forty-one railroad companies operate in the state, including:

  • Burlington Northern Safety Fe (BNSF)
  • Canadian National (CN)
  • CP Rail Systems (CPRS)
  • Union Pacific RR (UP)
  • Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Ry, Co (EJE)
  • CSX Transportation, Inc (CSXT)
  • Kansas City Southern Ry (KCS)
  • Norfolk Southern Ry (NS)

BNSF and UP operate a majority of Illinois’ 7,792 miles of Class I railroads. Class I railroads are for large freight trains. Class II and III railroads are smaller, regional railroad companies.

There are passenger rail stations throughout the state, from Chicago to Carbondale. Amtrak has 32 stations throughout the state.

Chicago is home to the CTA L train. There are 1,492 rail cars operated along eight routes and 145 stations every day. Certain routes operate 24 hours each day, and two have service to major airports, O’Hare and Midway.

Federal Investigations of Train and Rail Accidents

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) investigates railroad accidents. The Accident Analysis Branch of the FRA continuous monitors for train accidents 365 days per year. When one happens, they send field personnel to determine whether the circumstances call for a formal investigation. If the FRA chooses to investigate fully, it will publish a Factual Investigation Report, which will detail what happened leading up to the accident and a decision regarding the probable cause for the accident. This report can be important in building your case against the at-fault party and demanding compensation.

In some cases, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates train accidents, too. This is a separate federal authority that investigates catastrophic transportation accidents, determines probable cause, and might make safety recommendations. When the NTSB decides to investigate a train or rail accident, it has primary authority over the investigation instead of the FRA.

Don’t Hesitate to Call a Chicago Train Accident Lawyer

Whether you’re injured in a Metra accident near Chicago, or you lost a loved one in a freight train accident in southern Illinois, we’re here to help. Schedule your free, no-risk consultation through our online form or by calling (312) 236-2900.

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