Fort Lauderdale Train Accident Lawyer

June 16, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

Railroads play a central role in our country's economy—but they can also be extremely dangerous.

Train accidents often prove catastrophic. Because they are so large and move so quickly, many of them leave behind many injured survivors; and, with commuter travel on the rise, train accidents are only becoming more frequent.

Train accident victims (and their families) must understand their legal rights after a crash. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a train accident, you should get in touch with an experienced Fort Lauderdale train accident attorney who can help you fight for compensation. You can easily contact the Fort Lauderdale train accident attorneys' at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for help with your case.

What if My Train Accident Wasn't Considered “Catastrophic”?

We frequently speak to train accident survivors who are uncertain of their legal rights to compensation. Trains can and do cause serious accidents—even a small train accident can permanently damage somebody's wellbeing and livelihood. It only takes a moment of interrupted momentum for passengers to be at risk of internal injury. Even if you believe your accident “wasn't a big deal,” it's important that you seek medical and legal support.

Train and Rail Companies: Their Obligation to Passengers and Others

Train and rail companies have a legal obligation to ensure that they do not place passengers at an unfair risk. Trains are legally considered a safe mode of transportation, and rail companies are designated as common carriers; so train lines have a legal duty to maintain that level of safety for passengers. When a rail line fails to protect passengers, rail employees, and bystanders, the line may be held liable for injuries or fatalities caused by train accidents.

An Overview of South Florida's Brightline Trains (Now Virgin Trains)

South Florida began rest running the Brightline high-speed trains in 2017. Service began in May of 2018. In May 2018, Virgin Group purchased Brightline. The renamed line is now called Virgin Trains USA. Virgin Trains make stops in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

South Florida passengers might opt for a Brightline train instead of a personal vehicle or another mode of transportation because of:

  • Speed | You can get from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach on Virgin Trains in roughly 30 minutes each. It would take almost twice as long to travel by car
  • Convenience | With Virgin Train stations throughout popular downtown areas and public transit options near every station, it's always easy to hop on a Virgin Train

But the problems with these trains have made national news.

Virgin Trains Are Heavily Associated With Accidents and Fatalities in South Florida

Even when the Virgin Train line was known as the Brightline, it was associated with multi[le accidents and fatalities. There have been ten fatalities linked to the line since November of 2018 alone.

The causes of these fatalities vary. They include:

  • A pedestrian victim committing suicide
  • Individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Pedestrians misjudging a train's speed and distance
  • Other factors (such as driver error)

What Accidents Are Rail Companies Accountable For?

Florida's negligence laws and guidelines from the Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration dictate the accidents that Virgin Trains are held accountable for.

Train operators owe a legal duty of care to their visitors and riders. That means that the environment around their stations and trains needs to be legally safe—it's the law. If and when a rail company breaches this obligation due to their own negligence, accidents happen and innocent people are injured. Carriers can be held legally liable for paying damages (like medical expenses and lost wages) in court.

Rail companies are often responsible for accidents that occur both:

  • At their stations
  • On their trains

The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Support Train Accident Victims in Fort Lauderdale

If you or somebody that you love has been injured in a train accident, you deserve legal support while you fight for justice. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys works diligently to help train accident victims and their families pursue compensation after a crash. Contact us today to speak to a qualified legal professional about your case. In the wake of a train accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next, especially when victims are occupied with physical recovery, financial strain, and missed work. Don't forget: you don't need to do it alone.

Different Types of Train Accidents

Many different people can be impacted by a train accident—conductors, passengers, bystanders, railroad workers, motorists, and pedestrians can all be affected by an accident.

The legal system usually divides train according to the victims' (and/or survivors') identity:

  • Passenger accidents | Rail passengers do face some risks while they travel. Most trains move extremely quickly. They also don't require passengers to use seatbelts or other safety devices or restraints. Rail passengers also don't need to follow special safety protocols when they perform seemingly simple tasks (like boarding or deboarding); this leaves them susceptible to injury
  • Bystander accidents | Someone who isn't on a train and has nothing to do with a railway can still be injured in a train accident. Bystanders are at the greatest risk of experiencing a train accident when they are at unprotected crossings. Unprotected crossings do not have signs or other identifying features and do not notify bystanders when trains approach. Even though the Federal Highway Administration reports that less than 25 percent of our country's railroad crossings are unmarked, places like these still pose a huge risk to bystanders
  • Railroad employee or worker accidents | When railroad workers are on the job, they're at serious risk of being injured. We have legislation in place to protect railroad employees' rights, but it doesn't mitigate the experience of surviving a train accident. Railroad workers may be injured by equipment, a crash or derailment, or in a myriad of other circumstances

Assessing the Nature of the Crash

Some legal experts prefer to categorize train accidents by the nature of how a crash or accident occurred. Things like:

  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Jumping passengers or bystanders
  • Collisions (slanting, rear, and head-on collisions; track obstructions, buffer stops)
  • Derailments (when trains disconnect from their tracks); most derailments happen at curves and junctions, but they can happen on straight tracks too (plain track derailments)

Some Other Vehicles Cause Train Accidents

Sometimes, a railway company is responsible for a train accident; but other vehicles actually cause some train accidents. We all know that trains often cross over roadways.

This presents a lot of risks that would not otherwise exist—and they pretty much all relate to the regular drivers just speeding down the road.

  • Car drivers might be negligent | A vehicle could drive in front of an oncoming train and cause a crash—and maybe that car's driver is negligent, but maybe another driver on the road was acting aggressively and forced the car in question to swerve. There are so many ways that a vehicle operator can instigate a train accident that we can't name them all here
  • Vehicle manufacturers might be responsible | If a vehicle malfunctions and becomes stuck on a set of train tracks, the vehicle manufacturer could be held responsible
  • People who serviced the vehicle might be responsible | An improperly-serviced vehicle could malfunction, causing an accident with a train; in this case, the servicer would likely be held liable.
  • Train manufacturers and services can also be held liable: Some train accidents are caused by malfunctioning train equipment. If this can be traced back to the train's manufacturer, that entity may be held liable. If the problem was caused by improper or negligent servicing, the servicer could be held responsible.

Railway Employee Negligence and Train Accidents

Fort Lauderdale railway employees may be negligent in their line of duty. When this occurs, employees' negligence can cause a train accident.

Common causes of train accidents traceable to employee negligence include:

  • Distracted train operators
  • Fatigued, inexperienced, or negligent train conductors
  • Careless or reckless conductor conduct
  • Inappropriate speed
  • Nonexistent, inadequate, or defective warnings at train crossings
  • Negligent track maintenance

Compensation and Train Accident Cases: What You Need to Know

Compensation after a train accident looks different depending on the survivor's circumstances, the defendant's resources, and the survivor's own lawyer. Sometimes a train accident attorney needs to help their client negotiate an insurance settlement to account for damages. Other cases might require a train accident lawyer to fight for their client at trial.

Regardless, a qualified Fort Lauderdale train accident attorney should help you pursue compensation to account for:

  • Medical bills | This includes past, present, and even projected medical bills associated with the train accident. Virtually any medical expense may be eligible for compensation—from emergency medical transport to custom medical equipment or specialized services
  • Pain and suffering | Any train accident is likely to cause a victim significant physical pain. If this describes you or your loved one, ask your attorney about pursuing compensation for pain and suffering in court
  • Mental anguish | Many train accident survivors experience mental anguish after a crash. Mental anguish damages are meant to account for damage to victims' emotional wellbeing following a train accident
  • Lost wages | Train accident survivors have the right to pursue compensation for lost wages in court. That means that if a train accident caused you to miss months, weeks, days, or even “just” hours of work, you can recover damages to account for the normal wages you would have earned in that time
  • Diminished earning capacity | Lost wages are one thing—but what about when a train accident renders a survivor unable to earn the same amount of money that they could before? Maybe they can't work the same hours or they can never work again—or maybe they need to accept a lower-paying job because they're physically or mentally incapable of going back to their old one. Whatever the reason, if somebody experiences diminished earning capacity after a train accident, they could recover compensation to account for it
  • Disfigurement | These damages are awarded to train accident survivors who have faced physical disfigurement as a result of a train crash
  • Disability | Some train accidents lead to disability for survivors. While this would ideally never be the case, our justice system does allow disabled train accident survivors and their families to recover damages to account for the experience

What if My Loved One Died in a Train Accident?

If you lost a loved one because of a train accident, you can seek justice. An attorney may help you bring a wrongful death claim.

Train accident lawyers help families pursue compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses | The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000. If you're looking to tackle expenses like these after you've lost a loved one in a train accident, you don't need to do it alone. An attorney can help you pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses in court
  • Loss of income | Your own personal income doesn't need to be impacted for your household income to go down. If you lost a family member who provided income in your household to a train accident, you may be eligible to recover those damages
  • Loss of society and companionship | We lose a lot more than just an income when a family member is killed in a train accident; loss of society and companionship damages are available for victims' loved ones
  • Emotional distress

Qualified Fort Lauderdale Train Accident Attorneys: Call The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Today for a Consultation

The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are eager to assist train accident victims and their loved ones in the fight for the compensation that they deserve. If you or somebody close to you was injured or lost their lives in a train accident, reach out to us today. We maintain offices across both Florida coasts, including Fort Lauderdale, so you can easily contact us online or reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).

Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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