Train accidents are incredibly devastating events. The Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) has reported that approximately 3,000 train accidents occur each year in the United States, with nearly 1,000 people dying as a result. In Connecticut alone, the FRA stated that from the year 2005 through 2009, 124 train accidents were reported. Additionally, on average, five people were killed every year in Connecticut railroad accidents between 2000 and 2008, according to FRA statistics. These numbers are troubling, especially in light of the severity of some of these accidents.
Railroad accidents may take the form of a collision with another train, a car or bus, or even a solo derailment or fire. While the causes of such accidents are numerous, the most common ones are:
– mechanical or electrical failures;
– track, roadbed and structural defects or maintenance problems; and
– human error, including signal and communication problems, driver fatigue or inexperience.
It is not surprising, then, that the FRA has established an ultimate goal of “zero tolerance” for train accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Notwithstanding this hopeful goal, accidents still happen. Just recently, on May 17, 2013, a Metro-North train derailed in Bridgeport, Connecticut, resulting in damage that Senator Richard Blumenthal describedas “absolutely staggering.” Approximately 60 to 70 passengers have been reported as being injured in the crash, some of whom were severely injured.
If you’ve been hurt, you have rights. When a train accident injures the passengers onboard, the passengers may have a claim for negligence against the train operator and railway owner. If the accident was caused by a defective or malfunctioning train or railway part, then the state product liability laws may also permit the passengers to pursue a claim against the parties that manufactured, sold, installed, repaired or serviced the part.
Time is of the essence. For injured persons involved in a train accident, they must identify all the responsible parties and file a claim against them before the statute of limitations expires. For example, if a government-owned railroad is at fault, the injured party may have to provide special notice of the claim to the railroad within a limited amount of time, sometimes as few as 30 to 60 days. Thus, time is a critical factor as it pertains to possible recovery.
If you have any questions, please contact our office to arrange a free consultation and evaluation of your train accident case. From offices in Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury, and Torrington, Connecticut, our personal injury lawyers may represent clients injured in train accidents throughout the state.