There are about 5,800 collisions involving trains each year in the U.S., most of which involve railroad crossings, according to the United States Department of Transportation.

Due to the size, weight, and speed of trains, nearly 600 deaths and about 2,300 about injuries arise from these accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured in a collision involving a train, you have legal options and should consider contacting a skillful travel injury attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C.

When another person, business, or entity’s negligence caused your injuries, you might be able to hold them legally liable. A Michigan train accident lawyer could review your case, explain your rights, and guide you through the ensuing legal process.

Common Types of Train Accidents

There are numerous types of train accidents that can arise.

  • Derailments
  • Excessive speeding
  • Failure to maintain or repair tracks
  • Train operator error or fatigue
  • Faulty signaling equipment
  • Mechanical failure
  • Failure to break
  • Debris or equipment left in tracks

Train Derailments

The leading cause of train derailments is broken rails. Other causes include a collision with another object, an operational error, the mechanical failure of tracks, or the mechanical failure of the rails and wheels.

Derailments lead to serious injuries to railroad workers, train passengers, and people in other trains or vehicles.

Many factors might contribute to a crash, such as too much cargo on a car, faulty equipment or tracks, employee distraction, or obstacles on the tracks.

Depending on the circumstances, there might be a single or multiple parties responsible for a crash and, by extension, the crash-related injuries. By hiring an experienced Michigan train accident lawyer, an injured individual can win a significant personal injury settlement.

Equipment Failure and Poor Maintenance

Defective and poorly maintained equipment causes train accidents. Common problems include:

  • Malfunction of brakes
  • Warning lights, sounds, and gates no functioning
  • Faulty communication equipment
  • Broken  handrails on locomotives or rail cars
  • Poorly maintained hand brakes
  • Defective or broken rails which can cause derailment

Human Errors & Negligence

Negligence by a conductor or engineer can cause a train accident.

Serious accidents result from carelessness and negligent conduct, including being distracted, falling asleep, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Crashes with other trains occur when a railroad worker fails to follow safety requirements, improperly switches tracks, or does not lookout for dangers on the tracks.

Train Accident Statistics

Human error is one of the most common reasons for any accident. From poor judgment to vision issues to impaired reactions, negligence oftentimes contributes to train accidents. In fact, every two weeks a train carrying hazardous materials derails in the United States, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA reports that trains are estimated to kill one person every 100 minutes, and each year, nearly 1,000 people are killed in train related accidents.

The bar chart below shows the number of train accident fatalities in the United States from 2008-2018. The graph highlights an increasing trend over the 10-year span, averaging an 8% increase in fatalities annually.

Train accidents annual fatalities chart - Buckfire Law

  • 2008: 121
  • 2009: 181
  • 2010: 167
  • 2011: 176
  • 2012: 182
  • 2013: 228
  • 2014: 219
  • 2015: 242
  • 2016: 241
  • 2017: 242
  • 2018: 271

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. In 2018, roughly 878 people died in train accidents in the United States, an increase from 823 fatalities in 2017.

The line chart below shows accident types for train collisions from 2008-2018 in the United States. On average, train accidents result in fatalities approximately 12% of the time, while injuries occur on average 43% of the time. Collisions, injuries, and fatalities have all stayed at a steady trend the past decade.

Train accident types chart - Buckfire Law

Michigan Amtrak Accidents

Amtrak is a nationally and internationally recognized passenger railroad service. During the course of a single day, the company operates more than 300 trains and over 21,300 miles of track.

Some track sections allow trains to run as fast as 150 mph. Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. This means that nearly 85,700 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains on a daily basis, and nearly two-thirds of passengers come from the 10 largest metropolitan areas.

As recent as December 2017, a passenger train on a newly-opened Amtrak route jumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, slamming rail cars into a busy highway and killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the train had been traveling more than twice the speed limit before it derailed, or at 80 miles per hour instead of the allowable 30 mph.

The tracks where the accident occurred were brand new and the result of a recent infrastructure investment program. Federal law requires railroads, by the end of 2018, to have positive train control, which automatically slows trains if they are exceeding speed limits or approaching dangerous conditions.

Railroad Crossing Crashes

Railroad crossings are the location for serious injuries and deaths. Many crossings do not have warning lights or gates and many are unprotected crossings.

As a result, motorists and pedestrians often get hit and killed by at these locations.

Accidents occur because cars can stall on tracks, the vision of a motorist is blocked, or poor visibility in the area. Other crashes occur because the signals do not properly activate or a conductor fails to sound the horn.  The railroad company can be held liable for these types of locomotive injury accidents.

Deadly Train Accidents

The sheer power, size, and speed of a train creates a high risk of fatalities in an accident. Occupants of other trains and vehicles, as well as pedestrians, are often killed in these crashes.

In addition, passengers on the crashing or derailed train have few safety protections and this can result in fatal injuries.

Filing a Michigan Train Injury Lawsuit

Depending on the circumstances of a crash, the railroad company might be held liable for any passenger who sustains injuries from a train crash. For example, if the improper maintenance of a train, or the negligent actions of a train operator cause a crash, there is a good chance that an injured individual could pursue compensation against the responsible company.

In addition to ordinary negligence, certain train companies, such as Amtrak, may have additional liability. This is because they are considered common carriers, and therefore might have to adhere to a special law that imposes extra liability on transportation vehicles that require passengers to pay a fee.

Our Michigan transportation accident lawyers will file a lawsuit against the responsible party and demand the maximum settlement.  Railroad companies have their own high powered law firms to defend their negligence so need you your own team of top-rated lawyers to win you the best possible settlement.

Settlements for Train Injury Victims

Anyone who pursues a claim for compensation—whether they be a passenger, bystander, driver, or railroad worker — must be able to calculate their losses. Essentially, these losses are broken down into types of damages, which can be both economic and non-economic in nature.

Non-Economic Damage Compensation

Non-economic damages encompass the pain and suffering a plaintiff has endured that does not have an inherent economic value. This might include mental anguish, physical pain, an inability to perform a certain functions, disability, emotional trauma, loss of society, or loss of enjoyment of life.  

For accidents involving fatalities, the family members of the victims can pursue claims by filing a  Michigan wrongful death lawsuit. These cases demand compensation for the pain and suffering of the victim, the loss of companionship of the family, and financial losses suffered due to the death.

Economic Loss Compensation

The specific economic damages that a claimant can request will depend on the circumstances of each case.  However, many injured plaintiffs request compensation for:

  • Lost wages for the past, present, and future
  • Medical bills for past, present, and future treatment
  • Property damage
  • Therapy bills, prescription expenses, costs of surgery

In addition, when a train crashes into a motor vehicle, the injured occupants of the automobile are entitled to receive no-fault insurance benefits.  This can provide victims with additional benefits and compensation.  We will help you fill out the forms required to get paid these benefits.

Get the Best Michigan Train Accidents Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash involving a train, you need our top-rated Michigan train accident lawyers.

Our legal team will gather the evidence needed to prove and win your case. We charge no fees unless you win a settlement.

To schedule a free, no obligation consultation, call our award winning law firm today.

Awards and Accolades
Our No Fee Promise No Legal Fees Until You Settle or Win