The Increasing Number of Train Derailments

December 3, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
The Increasing Number of Train Derailments

Due to modern safety regulations, train derailment is not a frequent occurrence in the 21st century – but this year seems to be the exception:  

    • On February 11, a freight train derailed in Hughson, spilling debris all over the highway.
    • On August 2, an Amtrak train derailed on the outskirts of Union Station in D.C. There were 190+ passengers on board.
    • On May 24, a freight train carrying poultry in Aurora, Illinois derailed, tipping over onto the tracks.
    • On November 2, a “minor derailment of Amtrak rail maintenance equipment” in the Hudson River Tunnels in New York led to delays, but thankfully not to any injuries.
  Although these derailments concluded with no injuries or deaths to passengers or employees (though we cannot vouch for any chickens), that is not always the case. The last few years have seen multiple derailments, leading to multiple deaths and catastrophic injuries.

Reasons for derailments

These incidents are usually caused by specific failures, including failure of running gear, track component failure, unusual rail and track interaction, collisions, and signal errors. When train vehicles run off the rails, they do not necessarily leave the track. Any derailment has the potential to cause serious injury and property damage. Specific causes of train derailments include:  
    • Track component failure. Parts of the track fail, but not the vehicle itself. Reasons can include broken track rails due to lack of maintenance or repair.
    • Failure of the running gear. Parts of the engine fail, including the wheels when they are not lubricated properly.
    • Uncommon track interaction. Occurs when heat or other conditions negatively affect an element of the train or track.
    • Miscommunication resulting in signal errors. Train drivers have access to safety systems such as trap points which can be used to avoid a collision. However, when these systems are not accessed in time, derailments and crashes can occur.
    • Train collisions with an object at a crossing. These collisions are the most common reason for train derailments. Most commonly, the object impacted is a motor vehicle. However, other objects such as animals or other obstacles can lead to derailment and disaster.
  These accidents are referred to as common carrier accidents. Railroads are required to follow strict safety procedures and guidelines designed to avoid derailments and crashes. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any injuries resulting from an incident. Individuals or families harmed in a train derailment can contact an experienced injury attorney to find out more about their options. The consequences of a train derailment can include both minor and major injuries. If you have suffered any type of injury from a train accident, our experienced Ohio and Kentucky attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law are here to help you secure the financial recovery you deserve for your losses. To set up a free consultation with an understanding attorney from our team, call us today at 877.686.8879 or send us a message through our contact form.