Most Common Causes Of Train Accidents

train accidents

Train travel is considered safe in the United States, but railway accidents still occur in Illinois and other states. For example, in Chicago, there are still train accidents in the Chicago Transit Authority System and Metra Rail, including a recent one near Downers Grove Station. Also, there are thousands injured in train accidents in the US annually.

If you have been injured in an Illinois train accident or lost a loved one, you could be eligible for compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. The Arlington Heights train accident lawyers at Claim Your Justice are ready to assist you.

Train Accident Statistics

  • Operation Lifesaver reports thousand of accidents throughout the years. Some with deaths.
  • Trains kill hundreds of people annually.
  • People in cars hit by a train are 40 times more likely to die than if they were hit by a car.
  • More than 50% of train accidents happen at rural crossings with no warning signals.

What Causes Train Accidents?

There are several reasons railway accidents happen in Illinois:

  • Operator error: Human error is a significant factor in train accidents. This can happen because of inadequate training, reckless behavior, lack of experience, or drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, many train accidents happen because the engineer is speeding, under the influence, or both. It is illegal for train engineers to use alcohol or drugs when they are working.
  • Train track issues: Train track owners are liable for keeping tracks in good condition. But over the years, trains can become broken and worn, leading to derailments. Keeping tracks in good condition requires maintenance every few months, But, not every railroad company meets its obligations.
  • No warning signals: Many railroad crossings lack warning signals and signs. This is a significant problem in rural parts of Illinois, where municipalities lack funding to pay for signs. Without a train warning signal, you may not know a train is coming until the last moment. Remember that many rural areas do not require training warning signals, so use plenty of caution when crossing the tracks.
  • Speeding: Train operators going too fast for conditions is extremely dangerous. In 2015, a New York-bound Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia. The investigation showed the train was going over 100 MPH when it left the tracks, killing eight and injuring 200.
  • Obstructed view: Companies responsible for maintaining train track crossings must keep; the crossing clear of vegetation, so there is a clear line of sight. If vegetation is overgrown, it can make it difficult to see.
  • Stalled cars: Many train crashes happen because a vehicle is stuck on the tracks.
  • Distractions: Some train accidents happen because the engineer or vehicle driver is distracted by cell phones.
  • Faulty train equipment: A defective train or component cause many accidents. For instance, if the train has a brake failure, it may only be able to stop after a crash at a train crossing.
  • Signal defects: Many train crossings have signals installed, but they need to be fixed. A non-functional train signal can be as bad as nothing at all.

A study found that many accidents were because of derailments. This means 94% of train accidents are caused by trains leaving the tracks. Broken welds and rails are likely causes of many derailments. In addition, track geometry and bearing failure are common causes of trains leaving their tracks.

Train Length

A common issue in many train accidents is the train’s length. The length and weight are critical to understanding the safety issues that could be in play in the incident. While moving people and goods are vital to American commerce, it also is essential that trains are not too long for safety reasons.

The US has no limits on how long a train can be. A train with 180 cars can be over two miles long! That means the train could take miles to come to a complete stop. Your personal injury attorney will review the train length that injured you. The attorney may argue that railroad negligence and cost-cutting caused your injuries.

How Long it Takes A Train To Stop

The average freight train is 1.5 miles long. If it moves at 55 MPH, it may take more than one mile to stop. Every train is different, and your train accident attorney must investigate the train’s length, weight, speed, and incline.

It is critical to remember that it usually takes more than a mile for a train to come to a total stop. So, at a train crossing, be aware of this fact and never attempt to beat a train across the tracks. The train will probably approach faster than you think, and if the train has to stop, it will take a long time.

Common Train Accident Injuries

The weight and size of a moving train mean an impact on a car or person is usually catastrophic. Also, the passengers and crew on the train could be hurt, but those injuries are generally less severe. Some severe train accident injuries are:

  • Spinal cord damage
  • Amputations
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fractured neck
  • Blindness
  • Organ damage
  • Head trauma

Many accident victims also suffer broken ribs, whiplash, broken bones, shoulder injuries, and burns. The injuries are often severe, so you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to obtain the most compensation.

Why Human Error Is A Common Cause Of Train Accidents

As explained earlier, human error causes many train accidents. For example, engineers and conductors without training or experience can make fatal mistakes that injure or kill pedestrians, crew, passengers, and vehicle drivers.

Many human error accidents may also be due to engineers working too many hours without a break. For example, fatigue can cause an engineer or conductor to forget to throw a switch to put the train onto the right track.

Human error in train accidents also can be because of negligence, with the fault being the company or train employee. Many railway company rules can put workers at risk of making mistakes and cutting corners to save money.

In January 2020, Norfolk Southern eliminated many, meaning one person now had to do the job of others. Having enough staff can lead to overwork once people are exhausted and make mistakes.

Further, freight and passenger trains often share tracks. This makes derailments and wrong-way crashes more common.

How To Prevent A Train Accident

Freight trains weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds. If you are hit by one, your chances of death or severe injury are almost certain. While many train accidents are caused by the railway, you can often prevent being a train accident victim by doing the following:

  • Watch for train signals and signs close to a train crossing.
  • Assume a train could come down the tracks at any time. Even if the track is clear, assume a train is about to come. Then, get across and away from the tracks fast.
  • Whether driving, walking, or biking, you should only cross train tracks at legal crossing areas. Never walk next to the tracks; many people need to realize that trains can go over 80 MPH in some cases. A train can be on top of you in an instant.
  • Look left and right before crossing train tracks.
  • Do not stop your car over railroad tracks. If it stalls, exit immediately and call 911. Never try to push the car off the tracks.
  • Refrain from boarding a train that is moving. You could slip and be run over.

Who Is Liable For A Train Crash?

The police and government must investigate the train crash to determine who was at fault. The Department of Transportation Act of 1966 states that the Federal Railroad Administration oversees railroad safety regulations.

Commuter train lines and railroad companies are obligated to maintain a high level of safety for all of us. Therefore, they also must install a black box on every locomotive to record information if there is an accident.

The railroad is obligated to operate safely, but they sometimes fail to meet its obligations. However, there can be many reasons a train accident happened, so you should hire an Arlington Heights train accident attorney to investigate.

Contact Arlington Heights Train Accident Lawyers Now

If you were injured in a train accident, it isn’t easy to know what to do and where to turn. Train accident injuries can be severe and cost much money to treat. Plus, being unable to work and experiencing pain and suffering can cause stress.

Our Arlington Heights train accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Our lawyers will fight for your rights if you have broken bones, internal injuries, or a concussion.

Claim Your Justice attorneys also serve clients injured by trains in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove Village, Schaumburg, Hanover Park, and Oak Streamwood. Please contact Claim Your Justice at 847-434-3555 to be compensated for your train crash injuries.