Any Oklahoman who has seen locomotives pulling long chains of box cars and oil tankers knows how important trains are for the American economy. Trains also transport commuters in addition to a wide variety of commodities and even hazardous materials. Compared to many other places in the world, trains operate with a high degree of safety in the United States. Still, when train accidents do happen, the results for humans, other animals and property can be catastrophic.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, rail accidents continue to show steady declines in the United States, dropping to 1,734 in 2012 from 3,019 in 2004. Most railway-related deaths involved cars and pedestrians struck at crossings. To help prevent train accidents, rail companies are now using a method called "positive train control," which involves speed restrictions and collision avoidance technology. Positive train control was part of the 2008 Federal Railway Safety Improvement Act, which will be fully implemented in 2015. Authorities believe completion of the safety system will further reduce accidents. Still, accidents can never be completely eliminated because of such factors as operator error.
In the event of a train accident, injured parties, including surviving family members of anyone killed, may be entitled to compensation if the accident resulted from the operator's failure to exercise due caution. Train accidents often yield higher compensation due to the amount of insurance being carried by trains. Anyone who was injured in a train accident should note that they can name multiple defendants in a lawsuit to increase the chances of compensation.
Anyone injured in a train accident can file a personal injury claim against the train operator or owner if he or she can establish negligence on the party of a defendant. Injured parties can seek legal advice to learn more about obtaining compensation.
Source: Washington Times, "Train wrecks keep U.S. on safety truck for world's lowest fatality rate," Ben Wolfgang, Aug. 19, 2013