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Recent Pennsylvania Train Accidents

October 25, 2018

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Two pedestrians were killed in two separate incidents after being struck by trains this summer—both in Jeannette, PA, according to Both pedestrians were walking on the train tracks when they were struck, although that alone does not absolve the train operator from liability. Another woman was killed here in Philadelphia this summer after being struck by the Broad Street Line subway, according to ABC 6 Action News. A Federal investigation found that last year’s SEPTA 69th Street Terminal collision was caused by the conductor’s excessive speed and lack of awareness, according to Action News. Three people were injured in the collision, which involved the derailment of several cars. While collisions with trains are rare, incidents are possibly occurring more frequently due to deteriorating infrastructure, poor communication between freight companies and passenger trains such as Amtrak, and overworked and understaffed train operators and conductors. When accidents happen involving trains, the results are often cataclysmic.

Rail Hazards in Philadelphia

In 2017, 824 people were killed in train accidents throughout the United States. This pales in comparison with the number of traffic fatalities caused by drivers but nonetheless these deaths are no less tragic. In Philadelphia alone, nine people were killed in 2017 by trains. This far outnumbers any other county in Pennsylvania, largely due to the high number of rail and trolley car options for Philadelphia residents, as well as the many freight tracks that run throughout the city. Rail cars and trolleys (including trackless busses) that run through Philadelphia include the following:

  • Trackless trolleys or trolleybuses;
  • Intercity rail;
  • Atlantic City line;
  • SEPTA subways and elevated trains;
  • PATCO Speedline;
  • SEPTA route 15;
  • SEPTA regional rail; and
  • Dozens of freight lines—Philadelphia has the highest concentration of freight lines in the state.

How do Accidents Happen?

Train passengers, pedestrians, and drivers can all be injured or killed when someone makes a mistake. These accidents may be due to any of the following circumstances:

  • Conductor negligence, such as speeding, distraction, drowsiness, or alcohol;
  • Damaged equipment on the train or infrastructure on the tracks;
  • Miscommunication between freight lines and passenger trains;
  • Faulty warning system at crossings.

A Train Accident Attorney Can Help

When a person is injured or killed either as a passenger or as a pedestrian or car occupant, a personal injury attorney needs to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of liability. How fast was the train going? Did the conductor blow the horn and apply the brakes immediately? Was the warning crossing system working properly? Did a freight line send the passenger train down the wrong tracks? When accidents occur at crossings, a thorough investigation needs to analyze whether traffic lights and signals worked properly, and whether the crossing guards came down in time to stop traffic and pedestrians from attempting to cross. If you or a loved one was injured by a train, or a loved one died, you need to call a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer. Call the personal injury attorneys of van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today.


Train Accidents
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