Public transportation provides a valuable service in metro areas such as Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland. But, while convenient, commuter trains can pose severe risks and dangers that passengers may not think about until it’s too late. Owners and operators of commuter trains are responsible for providing a safe ride for all their passengers and they can be held liable for injuries or fatalities that occur because of derailment accidents.
Amtrak and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)’s Metrorail provide commuter services throughout Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland. Two additional lines connect Washington, DC, to these states– the Virginia Railway Express and the Maryland Area Regional Commuter. These commuter trains provide rides for hundreds of thousands of passengers every day, generally with little to no issues. But sometimes major issues do occur, and when they do you want an experienced lawyer by your side.
You are entitled to financial compensation to cover your medical bills and any long-term care or modifications you need. The experienced train accident lawyers at Regan Zambri Long are ready to help you pursue compensation if your train ride ended in a derailment.
A train derailment is just what it sounds like—the train coming off the rail tracks. Derailment accidents can range from minor to catastrophic, depending on the circumstances of the event.
In a minor derailment, a train might slip from the rails but not come completely off the track, resulting in minimal injuries (if any) and some delay in getting the train running smoothly again. A 2021 metro derailment resulted in minimal injuries for passengers, but also highlights that minor derailments can still be traumatic and frightening for passengers.
A severe derailment could see the train coming completely off the track, tipping, rolling, and otherwise crashing and causing serious injuries and even fatalities for passengers. Accidents such as the 2009 Metro derailment—which remains the most deadly incident in the Metro’s history with nine fatalities—are examples of how quickly a normal commute can turn deadly.
Trains and their tracks are designed to fit together smoothly, but unfortunately, sometimes the smooth ride is disrupted and can cause catastrophic injuries and even death for the passengers on the train.
Trains can be derailed due to a variety of reasons, including:
Though some myths about train derailments have been disproved—a penny on the track isn’t likely to derail a train—derailments are still relatively common. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported 1,056 train derailments in 2021 (including both passenger trains and freight trains). Not every derailment causes injuries and/or fatalities, but when a significant derailment accident occurs for a commuter train, you’ll want to be prepared with an experienced attorney who will help you recover the compensation you deserve.
The cause of a derailment can, sometimes, indicate how severe the accident may be. A collision between two trains or a train and another large object is more likely to be severe or even catastrophic, as a train often isn’t able to slow down once on a collision course. Faulty equipment such as defective brakes or sensors that tell when a stretch of rail is clear can also lead to serious accidents.
Other times, a train may jump its rails and get itself back on track, causing no injuries and only minor delays. Train companies are still responsible for investigating these kinds of derailments, though, as they could point to impending issues further down the line.
Though not always severe, when a train derailment does lead to injuries, generally it will have more casualties and victims because of the number of people per train and car. Traveling at 40-50 miles per hour, the effects of severe train derailments are often devastating to the passengers.
Common train derailment injuries include:
It is important that you seek medical attention following a train derailment, even if you feel fine. Like other kinds of collisions and accidents, it may take time for the full effects of the accident to manifest or the damage could be internal and therefore unnoticed until it is too late. Once you have a diagnosis, your train derailment attorney will help you determine how much compensation you can claim.
Though the National Safety Council noticed a decreasing trend of railroad-related injuries and deaths from 2019 to 2020, the number of commuters using trains has decreased as well, as more and more employees transitioned to remote working because of Covid-19.
The specifics of filing a derailment accident claim will depend on which state the accident happened in. The District of Columbia requires you to file your claim with the Office of Risk Management within six months of the injury. In Maryland, you must file with the State Treasurer within one year of the injury. Virginia gives victims one year to give written notice to the director of the Division of Risk Management.
The train derailment attorneys at Regan Zambri Long are experienced in filing claims in all three jurisdictions and can help you file the appropriate claims with the appropriate parties, maximizing your potential compensation.
Negligence is often at the root of derailment accidents. When someone fails to meet the standard for facilitating a safe train experience, he or she can be held responsible for the injuries and suffering of the victims.
If a derailment is caused by a collision, the owner of the object could be held responsible for causing the accident.
If the derailment is caused by the conductor speeding or otherwise acting in a negligent manner, the train company will usually be held liable.
If the train has mechanical issues or defective parts, the train owner or the manufacturer may be held responsible.
If the trail derails because of faulty or misaligned tracks, liability will generally lie with whoever is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that section of track.
Liability may be shared between several parties—such as the owner of the train and a manufacturer who provided faulty equipment. A qualified train accident lawyer will help you make sure you seek compensation from all responsible parties.
The train accident and derailment lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have been representing civilians against the WMATA for more than 35 years. Founding partner Patrick Regan has handled more than 75 subway accident cases and is a wealth of knowledge for our attorneys and all our train accident and derailment clients.
It can be complicated to hold the liable parties responsible when a train derails. But you are entitled to compensation, and Regan Zambri Long is committed to helping you win that compensation, taking your case to trial if necessary.
We can offer a compassionate and competent legal team who will do their utmost to recover in your favor, drawing on the tried and true strategies that have already recovered millions for our other train accident and derailment clients.
We don’t collect any fees until we’ve won a recovery in your favor, so schedule your risk-free, complimentary consultation today by calling 202-960-4596.