Fortunately, train accidents don’t occur at anywhere near the rate of car crashes. However, they are still more common than most people tend to believe. There are thousands of accidents between trains and cars every year in the United States.
While many of these crashes only result in relatively minor damages, the more severe crashes can cause massive destruction. The most deadly accidents tend to be crashes that result in the derailment of passenger trains.
As the largest passenger train service provider in the United States, Amtrak trains are most often involved in these crashes. If you or a loved one were injured in an Amtrak train accident, discover how an attorney can help get you money for your damages.
Who Is Liable in an Amtrak Train Derailment?
Sorting through liability in an Amtrak train derailment or other crash can be challenging. When a crash is caused by a train colliding with a car or other vehicle, there are many parties that could hold a level of liability. Some of the potentially liable parties in an Amtrak train crash include:
- The railroad company
- Various government agencies
- The train engineer
- The driver of the other vehicle
In some cases, the fault is clear. However, determining who is responsible can become incredibly muddled depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the accident. That’s why having Amtrak train accident attorneys on your side helps to sort out liability.
One of the most common causes of train accidents is uncontrolled crossings. While trains passing through urban areas are required to travel at slower speeds and crossings are typically equipped with flashing lights and descending barriers, rural crossings tend to be far more dangerous.
The Dangers of Uncontrolled Crossings
Trains traveling through lowly populated areas can often be traveling at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. Meanwhile, many of these crossings are marked with nothing more than a simple sign, with no indication of whether or not a train is approaching.
Further dangers include low visibility due to overgrown brush near the tracks and steep inclines leading up to the railroad tracks. Additionally, many of the vehicles commonly using these roads are slow-moving farm vehicles, often hauling large loads. This can make getting across the tracks and out of the way quickly quite difficult.
Unfortunately, improving the safety of these crossings can be expensive and often requires cooperation between the county, state, and the railway owner. Specifically, the passenger rail industry in Missouri has no dedicated federal funding.
Damages You Can Recover After an Amtrak Train Accident
Depending on the specifics of the crash and the injuries you suffered, you could be entitled to many different types of damages after an Amtrak accident. All the potential damages of a personal injury case can be sorted into three main categories:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
Economic damages are all the financial costs that accumulate as a result of the accident. Economic damages include not only the money you are forced to spend but also any income you fail to earn. You can get money for both your current and future losses.
Some common economic damages in train accident cases include:
- Medical costs
- Future medical bills
- Lost income
- Lost earning ability
- Property damages
While economic damages can be directly replaced by financial compensation, the non-economic losses you suffer are often irreplaceable. Because of this, the amount awarded for these damages typically makes up the largest part of any settlement or court-ordered payout.
Common non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability
- Lowered quality of life
Punitive damages are only awarded in rare circumstances. These damages focus on the actions of the liable party rather than the losses of the victims. In order for punitive damages to be awarded, the actions of the liable party must be shown to have been criminally negligent or carried out with the willful intent of causing harm.
How Long do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
If you get hurt in an Amtrak train accident, it is essential to ensure that you do not miss the deadline for filing a claim. However, determining the applicable statute of limitations in these cases can be challenging.
Contributing factors in these cases will depend on which state you were in at the time of your accident, whether you crossed state lines, and who is liable for your damages.
If the accident occurred in Missouri, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.120 gives victims five years to submit a personal injury claim. In the event of a fatal accident, claimants have three years to file a wrongful death claim under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.100.
An experienced Amtrak train accident lawyer can help you sort through everything and ensure you meet all deadlines. Hire a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to help protect your rights to claim compensation.
Mass Torts and Class Action Lawsuits for Train Crashes
Train accidents can often result in injuries to several parties. If you were a passenger on an Amtrak train that derailed, you are likely one of many victims who suffered injuries. These cases often lead to mass tort or class action lawsuits. These types of lawsuits help organize many legal actions against a single party and make the process easier for accident victims.
The main difference between mass torts and class actions is the amount of control maintained by the plaintiff. With a class action lawsuit, all the parties get grouped together in a single case, and the money recovered is split between the victims. Meanwhile, with a mass tort, the plaintiffs pool their evidence but continue to pursue their own individual outcomes.
If you were injured in a train accident in Missouri, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine your options and which path would be best to pursue for compensation.
Contact an Amtrak Train Crash Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were involved in an Amtrak train accident, obtaining experienced legal counsel can be essential. An Amtrak train derailment attorney in Missouri can help get you the money you need to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life.
Contact Dickman Law today for a free case evaluation. Our team is available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or through our online contact form to get started on the path to compensation.