Train accidents are unlike any other crashes in the United States, and very often they result in severe long-term injuries or fatalities. It may also be difficult to recover damages for injuries that stem from train accidents, because settlement values may be limited in certain situations. For instance, Amtrak is a corporation partially funded by the U.S. government, and is therefore protected by Congress with specific legislation. This makes it more difficult to recover damages from Amtrak. Similar hurdles apply when commuters, who are often injured in subway crashes, try to collect from subway systems, when the subway system is at least partially owned by the local government. These potential complications and restrictions indicate the importance of retaining an experienced personal injury attorney when attempting for damages caused by a rail carrier.
While Los Angeles Metro has made excellent strides in converting to automated “positive control” technology on the commuter rail system, the truth is that it is still possible, and likely, to be injured in subway incidents. One reason for this is that Los Angeles is a heavily populated urban area, so the subway systems are heavily utilized. This concentration of commuters can easily result in injuries when accidents occur within the cars themselves, or even when commuters are entering or leaving a passenger car. Minimal injuries can be claimed by merely following the specific claims process set up by the local government, but equitable damage recovery for a serious personal injury will almost always require the expertise of an attorney.
Amtrak has also been successful in installing positive control to its railroad carriers, but the possibility for a serious accident on Amtrak rails still exists. Positive track technology still allows the trains to move at increased rates of speed, and open high-speed railroad crossings still pose a severe problem. It is not necessary to be riding a train in order to be injured by one, and given the speed and intensity of trains, the resulting injuries could be fatal or could cause serious long-term injuries. Rules limiting recovery for personal injuries caused by train accidents can be problematic, especially when a train strikes a vehicle at a road crossing. Drivers often perish in these types of wrecks, and without proper legal advice and guidance from an experienced attorney, the blame could easily be placed on the vehicle operator rather than the train. Therefore, proper legal representation is a necessity to avoid such pitfalls.
Train accident investigations can commonly reveal that several parties were negligent with respect to maintaining a reasonable duty of care for the passengers and highway motorists alike. Amtrak passenger trains are the highest priority on the rail timetable, and regularly run at increased speeds in order to meet the arrival and departure times. This can result in horrible accidents when the track system has not been repaired with necessary priority and ultimate safety in mind. Not only is Amtrak potentially liable to some degree when this happens, but the rail carrier responsible for right-of-way maintenance can also be held liable, and it has fewer restrictions on the amount of damages that can be collected. These are factors that your attorney can investigate for a full evaluation of what caused the accident, in order to pursue damages from all negligent actors.
The statute of limitations for the amount of time in which to file a personal injury claim in California is two years, but a train accident injury will more than likely include a shorter time period for filing because of its partial government status. Because of this condition, it is always important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to let them handle the claims process from the very beginning, particularly when injuries are substantial and the claim may be defended vigorously. The statutory filing period begins the moment the incident occurs, but can still result in a claim denial if certain conditions are not met. Therefore, one should never attempt to handle a personal injury claim against a rail carrier on their own, because if mishandled, the claim could be denied, and without being aware of the proper statute of limitations, the claim could be dismissed.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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