The rail industry is a critical part of the Illinois economy, with one of the country’s busiest systems for freight and passenger trains. If you live in Chicago, especially, you can appreciate the importance of trains, even if you don’t regularly use them. With this many trains and passengers, people are unfortunately going to get hurt. Who can you turn to if you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a train accident?
Cases like these are complicated because they involve major corporations, governments, and teams of lawyers. Serious accidents deserve serious personal injury representation, and that’s the level of service you can count on from Hale & Monico.
Common Causes of a Train Accident
After you’ve been in a train accident, it’s essential to establish why it happened. Therefore, you should understand some of the most common causes of train accidents, such as:
- Poor maintenance, involving either the tracks or the train itself
- Operator error, which can be due to a number of reasons (e.g. under the influence of drugs)
- Inspection violations allowing that allow unsafe conditions to contribue to the accident
- Reckless operation of the train (for instance, speeding)
- Wet, oily, or greasy train platforms
- Slick conditions that cause slips and falls on the train
- Accidents caused by vehicles on the train tracks
- Faulty train crossing signals and gates
- Passenger misconduct
It’s critical that you have an experienced train accident attorney who knows where to look to find out why the accident happened. There may be a number of state and federal government agencies involved in regulating the safety of the train that caused your injuries. Further, there could be inspection reports, maintenance logs, and other records that may shed light on the exact causes. Getting to the bottom of the accident is the first step in making sure you get the compensation you need for your injuries.
Types Of Accidents
Generally, there are four categories of accidents that most victims will fall into:
- Accidents between trains
- Trains colliding with automobiles
- Trains striking pedestrians
Each of these raise their own unique challenges when it comes to holding the at-fault party liable.
Accidents between trains. These are some of the most notorious train accidents because they tend to involve numerous victims. Hundreds of passengers, as well as anyone in the immediate vicinity of the accident, may be injured or killed. Proving fault is difficult because there are so many things that could go wrong. A conductor may have been negligent in failing to stop at a signal. Perhaps an error put the two trains on the same track at the same time, making a collision unavoidable.
Trains colliding with automobiles. Most train accidents involving automobiles happen at railroad crossings. These crossings are controlled by safety signals and gates that are supposed to alert drivers and prevent them from entering the tracks. However, they can malfunction, causing serious and often fatal accidents. Passengers on the train can also be hurt if the train derails or tries to brake suddenly.
Trains striking pedestrians. Many pedestrians are hurt every year by attempting to cross train tracks. These accidents are often the result of the pedestrian’s negligence, but not necessarily. Just as with automobiles, railway crossing signals may be faulty. Or the train could fail to sound a whistle or other alert to warn pedestrians. Every accident must be thoroughly investigated to determine fault, and it can never be assumed that one party or the other is automatically responsible.
Derailments. These are not uncommon accidents, especially here in Illinois with some of the nation’s busiest railroads. If a train derails, the consequences can be fatal. Defects with the tracks are often to blame, and may involve maintenance errors or the use of substandard steel. The train may have suffered a defect as well that could have been found with a proper inspection.
Injuries And Damages You May Suffer from a Train Accident
If you or a loved one have been hurt, the injuries are likely to be catastrophic and life-altering. Traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, and spinal cord injury are common. You may also suffer back and neck injuries, amputations, broken bones, and lacerations. Your injuries could require months of recovery, plus rehabilitation and physical therapy. These, of course, can result in significant medical bills.
In addition to medical expenses, you may also experience the following damages:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
- Property damages
Special Protections For Railroad Workers
The Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) provides special protections for railroad workers injured on the job. FELA claims can be made in addition to other avenues of recovery that could be available to the victim. However, these types of claims are complicated and you need an attorney who understands how to bring them.
What Can Hale & Monico Do For Me?
Your first priority after a train accident is to get the medical attention you or your loved one needs. Then, turn to the experienced train accident lawyers of Hale & Monico. Our role is to find out how your accident happened and who may be held liable for it. There are a number of different private companies who may be responsible, as well as government entities. We will work to obtain the records we need from all parties involved, and put together a compelling court case.
You may be offered a settlement to cover your injuries. But we want to make sure any offers will fairly compensate you. Remember, once you accept a settlement, you can’t go back and ask for more later. We understand how to value your train accident injuries and will demand fair compensation.
Contact A Chicago Train Accident Attorney
Let our dedicated team go to work and fight for you today. Give Hale & Monico a call to schedule your consultation.