In a state like Pennsylvania that has 64 operating railroads, train accidents are not unheard of and people are unfortunately, injured and killed in Pennsylvania train accidents each year. Train accidents can be devastating and because some trains have the capacity to carry a large number of passengers and crew(sometimes hundreds of people) one accident has the potential to injure many people at once. Train accidents are statistically low and traveling by train is generally considered safe, but when they do happen as the result of someone else’s fault, the injured parties may have a long recovery with a lot of expenses and they deserve to be compensated for those injuries.
Pennsylvania train accidents
Pennsylvania has seen two large train accidents in recent years that were covered extensively in the media.
- 2016 – A train struck a backhoe and derailed in Chester where 2 people (maintenance workers outside of the train) were killed and at least 41 people were injured.
- 2015 – A train that was traveling over 100 miles per hour derailed in Philadelphia causing 8 fatalities, 200 injuries and 11 critical injuries. The cause was found to be an engineer distracted by radio communication resulting in the accident. The train was not equipped with Positive Train Control or Automatic Train Control, which are speed limiting systems that would have prevented this accident.
Those two accidents were certainly significant and made national news, but train accidents occur much more often than you may imagine. People are killed on or around train tracks every year. In 2017 there were 31 train accident fatalities in Pennsylvania.
Causes of derailments and collisions
A number of events and conditions may cause train derailments such as collisions, track and train defects, and malfunctions including worn and broken rails, operator error, and incorrectly set or defective track switches. Collisions usually happen when a train collides with another train, an animal, people, or motor vehicles on the tracks.
Other types of train accidents
Although generally less severe than train derailments and collisions, people are injured on and around trains in other ways. Bicyclists and pedestrians can be injured crossing railroad tracks that are not well marked or maintained, passengers can be injured by being caught in automatic train doors, by falling due to trains’ sudden stops and starts, and by slips and falls in the aisles or on a train platform.
Train accident liability often involves a thorough investigation into a number of facts and circumstances to determine the cause or causes of the accidents. Once the cause is determined, liability may be determined. People and entities that may be liable for train accident injuries include the following:
- The train engineer
- The railroad company
- The train manufacturer
- Parties responsible for track and signal maintenance
- A driver whose vehicle on the tracks caused the accident
- The city or county where the track is located