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What To Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Train Accident

Metrolink whizzes by during the day

Train accidents can be incredibly devastating and often leave victims with serious physical injuries and intense emotional distress. If you have been injured in a train accident, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve for your losses.

Below, we've put together a guide to help you understand the steps to take following an injury-sustaining train accident, including the time limit in which a claim must be filed.

These types of incidents tend to be very serious. Because of this, knowing what to do before such an unfortunate event should occur can help you have the confidence you need to properly handle the situation.

Read on to learn more about how to effectively handle the aftermath of an injury-causing train accident.

Step 1: Seek Medical Attention

If you are injured in a train accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. This is important for two reasons. First, your health and well-being should be your top priority above all else. Second, by seeking medical attention and getting documentation of your injuries, you will have evidence to support your personal injury claim.

Step 2: Gather Evidence

Once you have sought medical attention and are on the road to recovery, you should start gathering evidence to support your claim. This can include things like:

  • Photos of the accident scene and the physical injuries you've sustained,
  • Copies of any police reports filed,
  • Witness statements, and
  • Doctors’ notes documenting your injuries.

It is critical to gather as much evidence as you can as soon as possible after the accident. Preserving the evidence after a train accident is of the utmost importance in a claim for damages and can make all the difference in the outcome of a case.

Step 3: Contact Your Insurance Company After Speaking With An Attorney

If your accident happened while you were in your car, after you have gathered as much evidence as possible and spoken with an attorney, you should then notify your insurance company of the accident. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company without first consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney that is experienced in handling train accident injury cases.

It is also important to keep in mind that insurance companies are businesses, and their goal is to pay out as little as possible on claims. As such, it is generally not a good idea to try and handle your train accident claim on your own without the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Step 4: Determine Liability

Determining liability is generally not your responsibility after you hire an attorney. That's what the attorney is tasked to do. However, it can be helpful to discuss the potentially liable parties with your attorney so you have a good understanding of who may be held responsible for your losses.

The parties most commonly held accountable for train accidents typically include:

  • Train operator (private or public agency) - The operator of a passenger or freight train is tasked with maintaining all trains, rail cars, and all other equipment and ensuring that they are working properly. Similarly, the company is responsible for training and supervising workers so that they have what they need to get their jobs done in a safe manner.
  • Federal regulations dictate how many hours a train operator or engineer is allowed to work. The reason for this is to make sure that the train personnel are sleeping enough between shifts and are able to execute their duties safely while operating a train.
  • Regardless of these regulations, train workers may be pushed past their limitations at times. Fatigue is a significant issue in the train industry as train drivers tend to be required to work long shifts to make sure that the trains are turned around and back to the proper starting point for a new run.
  • While most train operators tend to follow the rules, some do not, which can lead to issues like a train engineer falling asleep while working.
  • Find the owner - Various private companies or government entities may own different sections of railroad tracks. If any deficiencies exist on a railroad track that contribute to an injury-sustaining accident, the owner or controller of the section of the track where the incident happened may be held responsible for damages.
  • Manufacturer - It is possible for train equipment to fail, which could include problems with any of the following:
  • Engine,
  • Signals, or
  • Any other component of the train or tracks.

Sometimes, multiple parties may be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of a train accident. A skilled train accident attorney can help you determine if more than one party may be held liable for your losses.

Damages Available to Injured Train Accident Victims

After suffering injuries in a train accident, there are several types of damages that may be recoverable to you. These can include:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Property damage,
  • Lost wages and future lost earnings,
  • Pain and suffering, and \
  • Emotional distress.

The amount of damages you may be entitled to recover will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. If you find yourself reliving the accident over and over again, you may suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of the accident. Because of this, you may be able to recover damages for it. Unfortunately, this type of trauma response is very common for train accident survivors.

An experienced personal injury attorney from our team here at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP will be able to evaluate your train accident claim and determine what types of damages may be available to you.

Statute of Limitations for Train Accidents

In the state of California, the statute of limitations for train accident personal injury cases against private entities or individuals is two years from the date of the incident. This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

If the entity responsible for the injuries you sustained in a train accident is a government entity, like a city or a county, you have six months from the date of the incident to file a claim with the government entity. After you file your claim, the government entity has 45 days to respond. If the government entity denies your claim, you have 6 months from the date the denial was mailed or personally delivered to you to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not receive a denial letter within 45 days, your claim is deemed denied and you may file your personal injury lawsuit.

If you do not file your lawsuit within this time frame, you will be barred from recovering any damages at all.

We Are Here to Help Those Who Have Been Injured in Train Incidents

If you have sustained serious injuries in a train accident through no fault of your own, it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Similarly, if someone close to you has been killed in a train accident, it is equally as important to seek skilled representation on their behalf so that you and your family receive the compensation you deserve for such a significant loss.

To learn more about what to do if you’ve been injured in a train accident, contact our office today for a free consultation. Our team of experienced train accident attorneys here at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP can help you understand your rights and options under the law. We will fight for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery.

Call our Los Angeles attorneys at (866) 634-4525 or contact us online to get in touch with someone from our team about the details of your case right away. We will fight to recover your full and fair compensation.