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Collecting Compensation for Pennsylvania Train Accidents

January 26, 2017

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Multiple train crashes in the last decade have left thousands of Pennsylvania residents gravely injured or grieving for the loss of loved ones. Recovering financially from this type of tragedy is nearly impossible for some victims and their families, some of whom owe thousands of dollars in medical bills. For this reason, it is especially important for these individuals to seek compensation from the responsible parties.

Common Causes

Although over one-third of train accidents are caused by human error, there are a variety of other factors that play a role in the state’s higher than average crash rate, including:

  • Wear and tear caused by inclement weather;
  • The high volume of train travel in the area;
  • The physical layout of the tracks, such as multiple sharp turns, which may make navigation difficult;
  • Signal errors;
  • Track defects, including negligent upkeep or improper repairs;
  • Faulty equipment;
  • Driver error;
  • The number of grade crossings; and
  • The speed of train travel.

Track defects, which are often indirectly caused by human error, constitute one of the major causes of recent train crashes. The most prevalent types of track problems include:

  • Broken rails;
  • Malfunctioning switches;
  • Cracks around bolts;
  • Damage caused by snow or rain; and
  • Worn rails.

Human error, however, continues to be the most common reason for train crashes, including:

  • Improperly aligning railroad switches;
  • Failing to comply with orders;
  • Failing to secure or release hand brakes;
  • Giving improper instructions to other crew members;
  • Inadequate training;
  • Employee fatigue or distraction; and
  • Using the brakes improperly.

Responsible Parties

Whether or not an injured party can collect compensation for his or her losses depends largely on the underlying cause of the crash. This means that depending on the circumstances of the case, any of the following individuals or entities could be held legally responsible for a victim’s injuries:

  • A negligent conductor who failed to maintain a safe speed;
  • Employees who failed to load cargo appropriately;
  • The railroad company if it failed to institute appropriate policies for training employees, did not schedule regular inspections, or did not adhere to regulations regarding track planning or providing safety mechanisms;
  • Crew members who negligently maintained or repaired portions of a track; and
  • A driver’s unlawful entry onto the tracks.

If a plaintiff is able to establish the negligence of another entity or party, he or she may be able to collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral costs.

Contact an Experienced Train Accident Attorney Today

Train accidents can cause especially horrific injuries, some of which are deadly. In Pennsylvania, negligent parties whose actions result in these types of accidents can and should be held accountable. If you live in Philadelphia and were recently injured or lost a loved one in a train accident, please contact a member of the dedicated legal team at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim by calling (215) 486-0123 or by completing one of our standard online contact forms to schedule a consultation with an experienced train accident attorney who can explain your legal options and help you seek the compensation you deserve.



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