Unfortunately, collisions involving trains happen all across the country, and Florida is no exception. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Florida ranked second only to California for the most fatalities involving freight and passenger trains in 2017.
Collisions involving trains can happen for a variety of reasons, but most are caused by equipment, human factors, signal malfunctions, or problems with the track.
Each year since 2010, more than 2,000 collisions have occurred at highway-rail crossings. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3 out of 4 crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist's home. Fifty percent of all crashes occur within 5 miles of their home.
What common freight carriers and passenger carriers operate in Florida?
Here's a list of just a few of the common freight carriers and passenger carriers that operate in Florida:
- Florida East Coast Railway
- CSX Transportation
- Florida Central Railroad
- Florida Northern Railroad
- National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak
- South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail)
- Virgin Trains USA
What are some of the common types of train accident cases?
Some of the common types of train accident cases are:
- Train operation/human factors
- Signal malfunction
- Problems with the track
If I was injured in an accident involving a train, can I sue?
Yes. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a train, you may be able to sue. It is important to hire a train accident attorney as soon as possible in order to investigate the crash and preserve evidence. The company operating the train, the owner of the tracks, the company responsible for maintaining the tracks and signals along with their insurance companies will be at the scene of the accident conducting their own investigations. You will want someone there as well to conduct an investigation on your behalf and make sure that any and all evidence is preserved.
Who investigates train accidents?
The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in conjunction with local and state law enforcement agencies routinely investigate train accidents throughout the United States. Typically, their investigative teams are dispatched to the scene of the accident on the day of the accident. Their role is to determine the probable cause of the accident and to issue safety recommendations. However, the Board's analysis of factual information and its determination of probable cause cannot be entered as evidence in a court of law. That's why it is important to hire an attorney that has the experience and resources to conduct an independent investigation of the accident on your behalf.
Who owns Tri-Rail?
The portion of the track from Miami to Magnolia Park that Tri-Rail operates over is owned by the State of Florida. In 2003, the Florida legislature enacted the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Act and created the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA). SFRTA contracts with private companies to operate the trains and to maintain the track and signals. In January 2017, SFRTA awarded the contract to Herzog.
However, this creates an issue in any case that involves the SFRTA, as SFRTA and their contractors will try to hide behind sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity potentially caps any recovery at $200,000 per person or $300,000 per occurrence.
What if I was injured while riding as a passenger on an Amtrak train or struck by an Amtrak train?
If you were injured while riding as a passenger on an Amtrak train, you may be able to file a claim for your injuries. Did you know that National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak is fifty-one (51) percent owned by the United States government? As such, cases involving Amtrak are routinely litigated in Federal Court. It is important to hire an experienced train accident attorney that has litigated cases in Federal Court.
Injured in a Train accident?
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a train, contact us today. It is important to hire a law firm with the experience and the resources to handle these serious cases. The attorneys and staff at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh have the experience, resources, and reputation to take on the insurance company and get you the compensation you deserve. Click here to read what our clients say about us and click here to see our recent results.
16-CV-81745 - Lee v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak, et al
On July 6, 2016, about 9:59 a.m., northbound Amtrak Silver Meteor train P09806, operating on the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) track, struck a 2004 white 4-door Mercury Sable at the 25th Street highway-rail grade crossing in West Palm Beach, Florida. At the time of the collision, a VTMI signal employee was working in the crossing warning system bungalow. The automobile driver was seriously injured.
In this case, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the VTMI signal inspector to provide for the safety of train movements and highway users prior to disabling the highway-rail grade crossing warning system at the 25th Street highway-rail grade crossing while performing tests. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority and VTMI management to ensure proper procedures were followed during testing to provide for the safety of the train movements and the highway users.
- Railroad Accident Brief: South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collision
50-2019-CA-0957 - Wright v. CSX Transportation, Inc.
On February 4, 2018, about 2:27 a.m. eastern standard time, southbound National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) train 91, operating on a track warrant, diverted from the main track through a hand-thrown switch into a siding and collided head-on with stationary CSX Transportation local freight train. The National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday that Amtrak's and CSX Transportation's failure to properly assess and mitigate the risk of conducting switching operations during a signal suspension, coupled with a CSX conductor's error, led to the collision of an Amtrak train with a CSX train near Cayce, South Carolina.