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Law Offices of Fernando Vargas
Law Offices of Fernando Vargas

Train Accident Trial Lawyer

Train Accident Trial LawyerSince the early 19th century, trains have had a major role in our country and communities. Most people consider trains to be a safe and affordable mode of transportation. Some people use trains to transfer to and from work and/or school, some use them as an adventurous way to travel on vacation, and businesses use them to transport goods across the state and country.

Unfortunately, train accidents occur much too frequently and many times result in serious injuries and death. You may remember the train collision that occurred on September 12, 2008 in Chatsworth, California between a Metrolink train and a Union Pacific train that killed 25 people and injured 135 more. Or, more recently, the November 15, 2012 train accident in Midland, Texas, wherein a train rammed into a parade float carrying wounded war veterans and their spouses, leaving 4 veterans dead and another 17 seriously injured. As the people of Chatsworth and Midland learned all too tragically, train accidents can be devastating and cause catastrophic injuries and death.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a train accident, it is important that you choose an attorney who thoroughly understands California’s laws and statutes regarding train accidents. California Train Accident Lawyer Fernando D. Vargas is an experienced trial lawyer who, since 1987, has effectively litigated thousands of personal injury cases throughout the Inland Empire and the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino with an emphasis in the cities of Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Claremont, Montclair, Upland, Ontario, Chino, Fontana, Riverside, and San Bernardino. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is located in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, has recovered millions of dollars in personal injury verdicts and settlements for their clients.

Types of Trains

A train is a vehicle system that consists of a connected series of rail vehicles, with or without a locomotive. The locomotive is a self-propelled vehicle that runs on rails and utilizes several forms of energy for producing motion. In the United States, there are three types of energy used by trains: Electric, Diesel, and Steam. Different types of trains are designed for different purposes and include:

 

Train Accident Statistics & Causes

shutterstock_64650022Train Accident Statistics & Causes

The railroad division of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for railroad accident investigations involving passenger railroads, freight railroads, commuter rail transit systems, and other transportation systems operating on rails or a fixed guideway. Railroad accidents typically involve collisions, derailments, mechanical failure, and faulty tracks. In addition, many of these accidents result in the release of hazardous materials.

According to the NTSB, there were 891 train-related fatalities in 2013.

The United States Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states that the U.S. railroad system consists of more than 750 railroads running on more than 140,000 miles of tracks. In our country, trains travel across more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings every day. A grade crossing is defined as a location where railroad tracks cross a public highway, road, street or private roadway (including sidewalks and pathways) at grade (i.e., the same level as the street). The FRA determined that there are approximately 270 deaths at public and private grade crossings every year. Many more deaths occur due to trespassing at sites besides grade crossings. Trespassing was actually responsible for 512 train-related fatalities in 2014.

According to the FRA Office of Safety Analysis, there were 1,736 train accidents in the United States in 2014. Although not all of these train accidents resulted in death or injury to people, many did. The FRA Office of Safety Analysis listed the following five categories of causes for these train accidents, along with the number of train accidents for each cause (some train accidents had more than one cause):

  • Track Defects (506)
  • Signal Defects (46)
  • Equipment Defects (946)
  • Human Factors (675)
  • Miscellaneous (290)


What are the causes?

TRAIN000020093394Human Errors

People are human and make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can have devastating consequences. The FRA Office of Safety Analysis determined that in about 38 percent of all train accidents, human error while operating the train was the primary cause of the accident.

 

Lack of Maintenance

Many train accidents could have been prevented by proper maintenance of the trains and railways. In fact, the FRA Office of Safety Analysis determined that a lack of maintenance of the track, roadbed, and structures was a primary cause of 29 percent of the train accidents that occurred in 2014.

Equipment Errors

The FRA Office of Safety Analysis found that equipment errors, including electrical and mechanical defects, issues with handling equipment and switches, and failure to apply/remove derails were a primary cause of more than 12 percent of all train crashes in 2014.

Mechanical and Electrical Failure

The FRA Office of Safety Analysis determined that more than 16% of all train accidents that occurred between 2009 and 2012 were caused by mechanical and electrical failures.

Signals and Communication

Communication with the engineer/conductor of the train, radio communications, and railway signals are critical for railway safety. The FRA Office of Safety Analysis found that errors in communication and signal defects were found to be the primary cause of just under 3 percent of all train accidents in 2014.

Weather

Weather can also play a role in the safety of a moving train. Poor weather can interfere with a train engineer’s or conductor’s ability to see the tracks ahead of the train. The FRA Office of Safety Analysis determined that more than 3% of all train accidents that occurred between 2009-2012 were caused by severe weather conditions, including extreme wind velocity; snow, ice, and mud on the tracks; tornados; floods; and other extreme environmental conditions.

Distracted Engineer/Conductor or Train Company Employees

The engineer/conductor of a train has a duty to operate the train safely and avoid being distracted from his/her duties. The NTSB determined that the cause of the horrific collision in Chatsworth, California between the Metrolink and Union Pacific trains that occurred on September 12, 2008, was the Metrolink engineer’s failure to observe and appropriately respond to the red signal aspect at Control Point Topanga because he was texting on his cell phone, which distracted him from his duties.

Federal Regulations regarding Railroad Crossings

Shortly after the 2008 Chatsworth, CA Metrolink collision, the FRA banned all rail employees from using cell phones or other electronic devices while on duty. In addition, the Federal government has rules and regulations for train safety, including safety measures at public highway-rail grade crossings. Some of these regulations include use of locomotive horns and other railroad locomotive safety standards.


Identifying the Responsible Parties

Identifying the Responsible Parties

Every train accident case is unique and there may be several causes for the accident. Some of the parties that may be responsible for the train accident include:

  • The train company that owns or operates the train
  • The owner of the railroad track
  • The manufacturer of the locomotive
  • The manufacturer of the signal equipment or other equipment
  • The driver of a motor vehicle

Fernando D. Vargas will evaluate all the evidence in your case and consult with a team of highly qualified train accident specialists in order to determine all of the responsible parties for your train accident case.


Proving Fault in Train Accident Cases

Proving Fault in Train Accident Cases

Many train accidents are caused by negligence of the train’s engineer/conductor or negligence of the railroad company and/or its employees. Negligence is defined as failing to exercise that degree of care which a reasonable and prudent (careful) person or company would do under the same or similar circumstances.

Unfortunately, train companies have the reputation for failing to take responsibility for a train accident and denying liability for any resulting injuries. That is why it is critical to hire an experienced California Train Accident Attorney to protect your legal rights.

When you hire the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas for your train accident case, Fernando D. Vargas give you and your case the attention you deserve. Mr. Vargas will personally investigate all the circumstances surrounding your case, including:

  • Engineer/Conductor’s qualifications, training, and experience
  • Evaluation of the Engineer/Conductor’s sleep/work history
  • Evaluation of whether the Engineer/Conductor and train company violated any state or federal safety requirements
  • Obtaining all maintenance records and other documentation from the train company
  • Obtaining all accident investigation reports, including any police reports
  • Evaluation of the speed the train was traveling
  • If and when the train’s emergency brakes were applied
  • Whether all signals and other communication devices were working properly

Photographs of the accident scene as well as any physical bodily injuries are incredibly important to capture the seriousness of the accident as well as the pain suffered by the victim and his/her family. Photographs taken during your recovery process are also important to show your healing progress as well as the permanent nature of any scaring and disfigurement. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas uses the services of a professional photographer who will travel to the scene of the accident to capture these very important images. Depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries, the photographer may also travel to the hospital and/or the victim’s home on several occasions over a period of time.

As part of his investigative process, Fernando D. Vargas will also hire a team of experts to help prove your case, including highly qualified accident reconstruction specialists. These experts have specialized knowledge and experience necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine how the accident occurred and who was responsible for causing it.


Train Accident Injuries & Compensation

Train Accident Injuries & Compensation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, you understand how devastating and life-changing this can be. Victims of train accidents frequently suffer catastrophic injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Internal bleeding
  • Injury to internal organs
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis (Paraplegia and/or Quadriplegia)
  • Burns
  • Amputations or Dismemberment
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Decapitation
  • Death

Train accidents that result in the spillage of hazardous materials can cause additional injuries, including:

  • Respiratory injuries
  • Chemical burns
  • Loss of vision
  • Disfigurement and scarring

In addition, victims of train accidents frequently suffer emotional and psychological injuries, including:

  • Nightmares
  • Sleeplessness
  • Stress
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression

Mr. Vargas often refers his clients who are emotionally or psychologically traumatized for psychotherapy evaluation and treatment. Mr. Vargas’s team of experts will also help provide the evidence necessary to help recover the maximum compensation for your injuries, including:

  • Medical bills in the past
  • Medical bills in the future
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earnings and earning capacity
  • Assistive devices and transportation
  • Prosthetic limbs and other devices
  • Loss of household services
  • Property loss (damage to your vehicle)
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Inability to perform certain functions
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (marital support and services)
  • Funeral and burial expenses

In addition, some train accident victim’s injuries are so severe that lifetime medical help and assistance may be needed for his/her activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, doing the laundry, preparing meals, and shopping for groceries. In these cases lifetime damages must be determined and sought. Fernando D. Vargas works with a team of highly qualified experts, including economists, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologist, and other healthcare providers, to prove your injuries and damages and to create an individualized life plan for you.

Further, some train accident cases warrant compensation for punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the Defendant in cases when the Defendant acted recklessly or with conscious disregard for human life.

 


Free Consultation!

Train accidents can be devastating and cause catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an accident involving a train accident due to the negligence of another, the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas can help.  Mr.Vargas has the skill, expertise, and experience necessary to successfully litigate your train accident case.

In addition, attorney Vargas has a team of experts that will work with him to prove your injuries and damages in order to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. During your free consultation, Mr. Vargas will personally discuss the facts of your case, review the details about your injuries, and advise you about your rights.

Since 1987, California Train Accident Attorney Fernando D. Vargas has successfully litigated thousands of personal injury cases throughout the Inland Empire and the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino with an emphasis in the cities of Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Claremont, Montclair, Upland, Ontario, Chino, Fontana, Riverside, and San Bernardino. During your free consultation, Mr. Vargas will personally discuss the facts of your case, review the injuries, and advise you about your rights.

No Recovery, No Fee!

Train accident cases can be expensive to litigate. However, the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is located in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, takes all of the firm’s train accident cases on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will pay nothing up front and Mr. Vargas will advance all money necessary to prepare your case for either settlement or trial. If Mr. Vargas is unsuccessful in resolving your case, you pay absolutely nothing. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is fully staffed with bi-lingual personnel that are fluent in Spanish, has successfully championed the rights of personal injury victims by wining millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for their clients since its foundation in 1995.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, it is vital that you consult with a reputable and experienced California Train Accident Trial Lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909 / 982-0707 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. If your injuries prevent you from coming to our Rancho Cucamonga office, we can arrange to visit you at your home or the hospital to ensure the timely investigation of your claim.

FREE CASE EVALUATION