Train and subway accidents are not as common compared to other transportation accidents. Therefore, most people underestimate train accidents and do not consider them a major threat. Even if trains are not as common as in the past, they remain an active form of transport in California and other states in the U.S. Some of the most common forms of rail transportation include commuter trains, trams, and subways. If you have suffered injuries in a train or subway accident, San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm can help you seek compensation.

Catastrophic Train Accidents

In the U.S, there are around 600 railroads and numerous railroad crossings and tracks. Train accidents are not common; however, when they occur, they are often catastrophic. The accidents often result in severe injuries and fatalities. When a train accident occurs, it might be stressful to get compensation from the liable parties. Most defendants are reluctant to admit liabilities for such catastrophic accidents. The defendant's insurance company is likely to put up a strong fight to deny you compensation for the injuries sustained. You will need an experienced attorney to fight for you.

Every year, thousands of train accidents occur in the U.S, with the most accidents occurring at railroad crossings. Unprotected crossings are prone to rail crossings. Most railroad crossings do not have the necessary gates and lights.

Some railway accidents include a collision of trains and vehicles. When such collisions occur, the vehicle occupants are likely to suffer the worst injuries than the train occupants. Vehicle occupants are more likely to die in a collision involving a train than a collision involving vehicles of a similar size. Derailing is also a leading cause of train accidents in the U.S; it is common for trains carrying hazardous materials to derail in the U.S.

Common Causes of Train Accidents

There are several reasons why train accidents occur in the U.S. Some of the leading causes of train and subway accidents are:

Failure to Exercise Duty of Care

Different parties could be to blame for a train or subway accident. In most cases, train accidents occur due to the negligence of different parties. At times, the accident could have occurred due to the negligence of the railway company or due to the negligence of railroad employees and operators. In some instances, negligent government agencies might be to blame for a railway accident. If a train accident occurs due to a manufacturing defect, the train manufacturer might be liable for the accident.

Common forms of negligence that often lead to train accidents include an incorrect operation of a crossing arm and failure to turn on the necessary signal lights. In most railroads and crossings, outdated technology is still in use. Despite the availability of modern technology that could greatly improve railroad safety, most companies hold on to the old technology to avoid great investment. Adopting new railroad technology and features involves making a hefty investment.

Many companies are reluctant to upgrade their railroad systems. For example, by the end of 2018, all Class I primary lines that handle passenger trains, hazardous materials, or both were supposed to have implemented the PTC ( Positive Train Control). The PTC comes in handy in preventing many forms of train accidents, including train derailments at high speeds, train collisions, and grade crossing collisions. However, more than 2/3 of the commuter railroads in the U.S did not meet this deadline. The PTC system is only available on 24% of the tracks operated by passenger railways.  For tracks operated by freight railroads, only 45% have met the PTC requirements.

Human Errors

Train accidents could occur due to human errors. For instance, if a conductor does not have ample experience, a train accident can occur. At times, even people with extensive experience can make mistakes and lead to a train accident. A train accident could also occur due to the conductor's fatigue. At times, a conductor might be exhausted but still goes ahead to operate a train due to pressure on the train company. An exhausted conductor is likely to make poor judgments and other errors that could lead to an accident.

The majority of train accidents in California occur due to poor judgment, errors, and impaired reactions.

Careless Pedestrians and Drivers

Truck accidents are not always due to the negligence of the truck companies or railroad employees. At times, train and subway accidents occur due to reckless pedestrians and drivers. If a pedestrian is careless or absent-minded, they could stand or cross the railroad at the wrong time. Distracted driving could also lead to collisions between trains and vehicles. Train accidents can also occur if reckless vehicle drivers leave vehicles packed on railroads. At times, train accidents occur when drivers are trying to beat trains at railroad crossings. 

Mechanical Issues

It is common for train and subway accidents to occur due to mechanical issues. In the case of a mechanical issue, a train accident might occur even if the train operators and railways employees take all the necessary safety measures. Defective parts and mechanical failure are rare compared to other causes of train accidents. However, mechanical failures occur now and then.

Mechanical errors in trains might be hard to identify. Trains are large and have many moving parts and complicated systems. youFor To provide the required electric power and locomotive, all the different parts must work together. If one part of the train's system fails, it could lead to a severe accident.

Reckless Train Operation

A train accident could also occur due to reckless train operations and speedy trains. Just like in vehicle accidents where speeding leads to accidents, trains are no exception. If a train moves at a higher speed, the injuries and damages will be more severe in case of an accident. A train moving at high speed has a higher likelihood of derailing than a train moving at a low speed. 

Poorly Maintained Tracks

The presence of obstruction on railway tracks could lead to a train derailment and other forms of train accidents. It is deadly to leave foreign objects on a site where a train is likely to pass. To help manage a potentially dangerous situation safely, train conductors must be keen and aware of their surroundings at all times.

No matter how careful a train conductor is, he or she might not be able to see obstacles situated on railway lines soon enough. Lack of ample time to act and avoid an obstruction could lead to a train accident.


A derailment occurs when a train runs off the rail. A derailment could occur due to several factors, including conductor error, collision with an object, broken rails, mechanical track failure, and defective wheels.

Some derailments are minor, and the train might not leave the tracks. However, when a derailment is serious, the effects can be catastrophic. The majority of catastrophic derailments occur when a train is moving at high speeds.

Lack of Warning Signs at Railroad Crossings

Train accidents could also occur due to a lack of proper warnings at railroad crossings. The majority of crossings do not have proper warning signs; this explains why most train accidents in the U.S. occur at unprotected railroad crossings.

The leading causes of accidents at unprotected railroad crossings include driver distraction, poor visibility, intoxication, and drivers trying to race with trains. Train accidents at railroad crossings also occur due to obstacles that often block a driver's view, a train conductor's failure to sound an alarm, and malfunctioning signals. 

Vehicle Stalling on the Track

Train accidents could occur due to stalled vehicles on tracks. It is rare for vehicles to get stuck at grade crossings. However, a vehicle might stall at a railroad crossing mainly due to a poorly tuned engine.

When a vehicle stalls at a railroad crossing, a driver has to start the vehicle again. If a vehicle fails to start, a driver could put the vehicle in a neutral mode and request other people to help him or her push the vehicle off the railroad. However, if there is not time to remove the vehicle before an oncoming train reaches the site, most drivers abandon the vehicles and run for their lives.


It's surprising to know that some people stand on tracks or jump in front of an oncoming train to commit suicide. Statistics indicate that in 2017, 266 people killed themselves by jumping in front of oncoming trains. This tragic action also endangers the lives of train occupants and railway company employees.

Other leading causes of subway accidents in California are:

  • Collisions involving one or more trains on the tracks
  • Train doors closing too soon or people failing to get out of the way in time and leading to injuries.
  • Dragging of people under the trail or on the tracks along with the train
  • Leaking train fluids leading slippery surfaces in train stations
  • Ice and snow leading to issues with a derailment
  • Electrical injuries resulting from malfunctioning of electrical systems in trains and train stations
  • People falling onto train tracks accidentally and suffering catastrophic injuries

Common Injuries in Train and Subway Accidents

After involvement in a train or subway accident, some of the common injuries that you might suffer are:

  • Broken bones, bone fractures, and dislocations
  • Traumatic head, neck, brain, and back injuries
  • Internal injuries including punctured organs and internal bleeding
  • Dismemberment and electrocution
  • Muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries of different magnitudes
  • Becoming disabled or paralyzed due to the injuries
  • In extreme conditions, death could result from a train and a subway accident.

Establishing Liability after a Train Accident

It can be difficult to establish liability after a train accident. In most cases, liability lies with the entity or organization with operations and ownership responsibilities for the train station and the trains moving therein. At times, liability could lie with the state or the local authorities responsible for safety protocols and other matters concerning subway lines.

The people involved in the train accident could also bear some responsibility. For instance, there could be carelessness on the side of the crew, passengers, or operators. Such carelessness could enhance the severity of a train accident and make the effects more detrimental.

To help determine the liable party in a train accident, you should immediately contact your attorney after the accident. You will have a limited time within which to file a personal injury claim. Involving an attorney immediately after the accident will give the attorney ample time to gather the necessary evidence.

Immediately you contact a personal injury attorney; the attorney will begin reviewing your case and gathering the necessary details. The liable parties will be quick to deny responsibility after an accident. At times, the defendant might even try to twist the case to make you the party at fault. You need a competent attorney to fight for you. 

Some of the specific parties that could be to blame for a train accident are:

Train Operator

A train operator will be to blame if a train accident occurs due to poor train maintenance. A freight or passenger train operator has a duty of ensuring that trains, rail cars, and other crucial equipment are in good condition. The train operator also has a duty of hiring qualified employees and supervising the employees to ensure they are working, as they should.

The train operator should avoid overworking staff to ensure that staff gets ample rest. Staff should get enough rest in between shifts to ensure that they perform their best during operation hours. Just like in other demanding professions, fatigue is a big issue in the training industry. Most train drivers have to work for long shifts, and this reduces their performance. If a train accident occurs due to poorly trained staff or fatigued staff, the train operator could be liable.

Private and Public Track Owners

Government entities or private companies own certain parts of the track; if a train accident occurs due to poorly maintained tracks, the party responsible for maintaining the tracks could be liable. Deficiencies on train tracks that could contribute to a train accident include foreign objects on the track line.

Vehicle Drivers

When a train accident occurs due to collision with a vehicle, both the train conductor and the vehicle driver could be blamed for the accident. For instance, if a vehicle driver leaves a vehicle packed on the tracks and ends up causing an accident, he/she could be blamed for the accident. A vehicle driver could also be liable if he/she causes a train accident while trying to race or beat the train at a railroad crossing.

Train Manufacturer

A train manufacturer might be liable for a train accident if the accident occurs due to equipment issues, including engine or signal failure. If the accident occurred due to a defective part, the manufacturer of the part or component could be liable for the accident. It is important to note that the manufacturer might deny liability by pointing out that the train was in good condition at the time of sale. 

Train Conductor

A train conductor could be liable if his/her recklessness leads to the train accident. If a train accident occurs due to speeding, the train conductor might be liable. A train conductor should always sound an alarm while approaching a railroad crossing to prevent collision with vehicles or pedestrians.

It is important to take certain steps to protect yourself from a train accident. Taking the right safety measures will also help you to avoid liability in case of a train accident. Some of the steps to take are:

  • Stay away from a moving train- you might not know whether the train carries some hazardous materials that could be harmful to you.
  • Do not assume that you have mastered the train schedule; a train can always alter its schedule. Therefore, you should be cautious at all times to avoid surprises.
  • Yield way to moving trains; when you notice an approaching train, do not try to maneuver your vehicle. Instead, you should yield a way to the trains because the train is heavy machinery and might not be able to stop.
  • Do not use rail stations and railroads for recreation. Avoid sitting on railroads or placing foreign objects on the railroad to avoid liability in an accident.

Steps to Take After a Train Accident

After a train or subway accident, the steps you take are crucial. What you do after a train accident will determine your likelihood of getting the compensation you deserve. Some steps to take after a train accident are:

Do Not Blame Anyone

After a train accident, it is important to avoid giving out sensitive information. You should not blame another person for the accident, and you should avoid admitting fault.  Avoid sharing information with the other parties involved in the accident. If the police ask you to explain what happened during the accident, just provide the facts. Do not conceal important information because the police report will serve as part of the evidence in your case. However, you should not exaggerate the information or give information that you are not should about.

Avoid apologizing after a train accident; even if you feel that you are partly to blame for the accident, you should not apologize. The other party might take your apology as an admission of fault and blame you for the accident. Avoid signing any document without first consulting your injury attorney and getting permission from him/her.

Take Photos

You should use any possible means to gather ample evidence after a train accident. For instance, ensure that you take photos of the accident scenes, the train, and the station platform. If you cannot take the photos, you could request another person to take the photos for you. You should also take photos of your injuries. Ensure that you take the contact information of witnesses who might have witnessed the accident at the subway station or the accident scene.

Seek Medical Treatment

It is important to ensure that you seek immediate medical treatment even if your injuries feel minor. If you do not require emergency care after the accident, you should see a doctor within 24 and 48 hours after the accident. Your doctor will come up with a medical report indicating that you suffered injuries in the accident.

Immediately after an accident, your body will be numb, and you might not experience any form of pain or discomfort. However, you should still seek treatment because when the numbness wears off, you might realize that you had suffered injuries.

If the other parties involved in the accident ask about your injuries, do not disclose the details to them. You should not say that you are well without undergoing a medical examination first. You could have suffered internal injuries, which are much harder to detect. 

Have a Record of What Happened

Ensure that you record all the facts of the accident without leaving out any details. After you settle at home or after admission into a hospital, write down everything that happened while your memory is still fresh. This will ensure that you do not forget any important facts of the case. Some of the details that you could include in the report include where you boarded the train and where you were going. You could write about the items that you were carrying and the seat that you occupied; write down anything that you can remember. This information will come in handy during the investigations. The information will enable your injury attorney to build a strong case while seeking your compensation. 

Avoid Publicizing your Accident

You should avoid publicizing details of your accident, especially on social media. The defendant and his or her insurance company might be monitoring your social media and trying to get information to use against you. Sharing information about your case could raise an issue that might make you miss compensation.

Damages Available After a Train or Subway Accident

After suffering injuries in a train or subway accident, you should seek compensation for your injuries. With the help of an attorney, you can determine the value of your injuries before filing a claim. You can seek compensation for:

  • Medical Costs
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress

Your family and heirs could also seek compensation for your wrongful death if you succumb to the injuries suffered in the train accident.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

You should not fail to seek compensation if you suffer injuries in a train or subway accident due to the negligence of another party. San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm can evaluate your injuries and determine the ideal compensation to seek. Contact us at 619-478-4059 and speak to one of our attorneys.

If you need a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer check out this firm.