The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Safety Analysis estimates more than 3,000 train incidents or accidents in Florida over the past several years on the railways that traverse the state. The FRA includes railroad crossing accidents, derailments, equipment failures, and others that lead to injuries or death.
Train accidents occur for many reasons, but rail carrier negligence is often involved. Train accidents are traumatic and dangerous events that often lead to debilitating injuries and death. In the worst accidents, dozens of people suffer injury or fatality.
If you have sustained injuries in an Orlando train accident or a loved one has died as a result of a train accident, the law permits you to take legal action to receive compensation for injuries and related losses.
The experienced train accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand the challenges that come in the aftermath of a train accident, and we are here to help members of our Orlando community through this difficult time. Contact our Orlando Train Accident Lawyers today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injuries, and how they have affected your life.
Some Types of Train Accidents Occur More Frequently than Others
Orlando is, unfortunately, no stranger to the risk of train accidents. With multiple rails running through the area, such as Amtrak and CSX, Orlando residents must be aware of the dangers of train accidents. Moreover, the Florida Brightline is building a station in Orlando—and a recent investigation showed that the Brightline is the nation’s deadliest rail service.
Passengers can suffer slip and fall injuries and other injuries while riding or waiting to board, but the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) states that most injuries and fatalities occur during collisions and train derailments.
- A train collision occurs when a motor vehicle or a pedestrian and a train make contact, most often at railroad crossings, but collisions can also occur between two trains traveling on the same track.
- A train derailment occurs when a train comes off the track while traveling. Derailments are not always treacherous but can cause mass devastation depending on the location of the accident and the speed at which the derailment occurred.
Most Area Train Accidents Occur on Four Railway Companies
The FRA monitors and regulates rail carriers throughout the United States. Their duties include implementing and enforcing laws to keep workers and others safe when trains operate. Carriers have a legal obligation to report all incidents and accidents to the FRA, who formally investigates each event to determine the cause.
The most recent FRA data about train accidents and incidents suggests some railway carriers are more dangerous than others. Higher accident and incident numbers can indicate poor practices, but in some cases, these high numbers only indicate the size of a rail carrier. Large railway carriers often have more accidents and incidents than small carriers.
Railway companies must fill out Federal Railroad Administration Form 55a after each accident or incident that leads to injury or death. The rail carriers below filled out the most of these forms in the last decade.
The carriers with the most reports are at the top of the list, and potentially deserve the designation as the state’s most dangerous rail carriers.
- Amtrak (1,015)
- CSX Transportation (543)
- South Florida Regional Transit Authority (484)
- Florida East Coast Railway, LLC (387)
- Central Florida Rail Corridor (87)
- Norfolk Southern Railway Company (45)
- South Central Florida Express, Inc. (41)
- Seminole Gulf RR (33)
- BLF (30)
The remainder of railroad carriers filed 15 or less Form 55a reports over the last decade.
Common Causes of Orlando Train Accidents
Many scenarios cause train accidents. If you’ve recently been involved in a train accident, you might know the official cause if the Federal Railway Administration has completed their investigation.
Examples of common train accident causes include:
Conductors are responsible for a train, any workers, and passengers in the same way pilots are responsible for an airplane, flight attendants, and passengers. Conductors who make poor choices can cause treacherous train accidents.
Fatigue and distractions commonly lead to train incidents and accidents. Conductors who do not get proper rest risk drowsiness and sometimes fall asleep while operating a train. Even conductors or engineers who do not fall asleep can still cause accidents if they are fatigued. Lack of sleep impairs a person’s body, prevents them from reacting quickly to hazards, and causes difficulty in the judgment of time and distance.
Other distractions that plague conductors and engineers include cell phones, food, drink, and any other activity that takes their attention away from safe train operation. Negligent conductors who operate the train at higher than recommended speeds also open others up to the risk of accident, injury, and fatality because of a derailment or collision.
Poorly Maintained Railroad Tracks
Cargo trains, passenger trains, and light rail rely on train tracks to operate. The federal government, as well as the state, and railroad carriers must regularly inspect tracks. Any irregularities or weaknesses must be immediately corrected to ensure the track can continue to safely support the trains who use it. When those responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing train tracks do not act immediately or do not act at all, a dangerous train accident is likely to occur.
Lack of Signage/Malfunctioning Traffic Control Devices
As you’ve driven around Orlando, you’ve probably seen a variety of railroad crossings. Some are obvious because of signs, crossbars, and caution lights. In other cases, you might not realize you are coming to a railroad crossing until you are there. Marked crossings still lead to accidents when devices malfunction or when overgrowth covers signs and lights. When drivers cannot see signs and lights to warn them of a train or mechanical arms and safety lights fail at a busy railroad crossing, fatal collisions occur between passenger vehicles and trains.
Inadequate Train Maintenance
The Federal Railway Administration regulates train maintenance the same way the Federal Aviation Administration governs commercial aircraft maintenance. Railway companies must comply with FRA rules concerning inspections, maintenance, and train repairs. Carriers must also keep detailed inspection and maintenance records. Negligent rail carriers who do not follow FRA regulations put others at risk when a mechanical failure or breakdown leads to a dangerous train accident or derailment.
FELA Claims Against a Florida Rail Carrier
Railway workers who suffer train accident injuries must take a different path to receive compensation for their injuries. The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) provides benefits to injured railway employees similar to the way the Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to employees at private organizations. If you have sustained injuries in a train accident while working for a rail carrier, you must file a claim with FELA.
Yet, FELA claims differ greatly from workers’ compensation claims because a FELA claim investigation examines negligence and fault. In this way, a FELA claim operates more like a personal injury lawsuit. Filing a claim means you must prove your employer’s negligence led to the accident that caused your injuries. FELA claims are complex, so it’s best to consult with an experienced train accident lawyer to navigate the claims process for you and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Examples of railway company negligence include:
- Poor best practices for safety
- Improper or inadequate training
- Failure to provide proper equipment
- Understaffing a train
- Poor hiring practices
If you, with the help of your lawyer, prove your employer was negligent, you will receive compensation that goes beyond the medical treatment costs and disability payments provided by workers’ compensation. Claimants sometimes receive non-economic damages for pain and suffering and other losses. The amount of compensation claimants receive varies on the circumstances of the case.
Seeking Compensation After an Orlando Train Accident
If you have suffered injuries in a train accident or a loved one has lost their life, you can seek compensation for damages related to your losses in civil court.
If you reach a settlement or the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, you can receive compensation for the following losses related to your train accident injuries:
- Cost of emergency response. Some train accidents occur in remote areas, so the only way to rescue injured people is via helicopter. Other train accidents simply require ambulance services to transport victims to the nearest hospital.
- Medical expenses. Emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgery, diagnostic imaging, follow-up visits, and medication are examples of some medical expenses train accident victims face in the wake of severe injuries.
- Future medical expenses. Train accident victims receive compensation for estimated future medical treatment costs when severe injuries require additional surgeries and recovery or lead to a permanent disability that requires ongoing treatment and around-the-clock care.
- Rehabilitation expenses. Those who suffer severe injuries face a long road to recovery. Rehabilitation is a big part of recovery and includes working with specialists to recover lost functions, learn how to function with new disabilities, and emotionally process the trauma of an accident and injuries. Rehabilitation expenses include treatment with physical therapists, occupational therapists, mental health professionals, and others.
- Cost for assistive devices. Some train accident injuries require victims to use canes, walkers, or wheelchairs on a temporary or permanent basis. Those who suffer amputation sometimes choose to use artificial limbs.
- Lost wages. Severe train accident injuries require accident victims to miss weeks or months of work. Once they have used all paid-time-off, they do not receive wages while they receive continued treatment and heal.
- Estimated future lost wages. Train accidents sometimes cause catastrophic injuries that prevent an accident victim from returning to work or seeking future employment. Estimated lost wages and benefits from a lifetime of not working are sometimes part of a train accident victim’s claim.
- Pain and suffering. Courts award compensation for the physical pain and suffering accident victims must endure.
- Emotional distress. Severe accidents are traumatic events that cause emotional distress, mental anguish, and a host of other mental health issues. Victims sometimes receive compensation for emotional distress when a train accident has impacted their mental health.
- Reduced quality of life. Severe injuries cause chronic, lifelong issues that impact a person’s quality of life.
- Loss of consortium with a spouse. Severe train accident injuries sometimes impact the emotional and physical relationship between spouses.
- Scarring and disfigurement. Severe injuries can lead to ugly scars and amputations. Attorneys sometimes ask for these damages when accident victims suffer shame and embarrassment from their physical injuries.
- Punitive damages. Attorneys ask for punitive damages in extreme cases when railway companies intentionally violate railroad laws. Punitive damages are intended to punish the carrier and deter them from future negligent behavior.
If you have suddenly lost a loved one in a train accident caused by the negligence of a railway carrier or other party, you might recover some of the above damages. State law permits eligible survivors to seek damages in civil court by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against those who caused your loss.
Eligible surviving family members sometimes also receive compensation for funeral costs and burial expenses, as well as other damages based on the relationship with the deceased. Some examples include loss of companionship for a spouse and loss of parental guidance and support for a minor child.
An experienced Orlando train accident lawyer can evaluate the viability of your case and determine if you are eligible to receive compensation.
Contact an Orlando Train Accident Attorney Today
Train accidents are devastating life events that often cause severe injuries. Additionally, the complexities of train accidents can lead to complicated legal claims involving multiple parties. The empathetic and skilled legal team at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have decades of experience advocating for injured clients and helping Orlando residents get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
If you suffered Orlando train accident injuries, let our team investigate your case and handle the details while your focus is on healing and recovery. If you choose us to represent you, we handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. You do not pay to retain our services upfront. Instead, we only collect attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you in the form of a settlement or jury award.
With offices across both Florida coasts, Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can easily serve you. Contact Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today online or at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) for a free consultation to learn about how we might assist you after an Orlando train accident.