Accidents involving trains are among the most devastating and difficult issues to litigate. Most train accidents involve dozens if not hundreds of victims, many of whom could be severely injured or even dead. Additionally, there are multiple layers of liability and responsible parties. This post will go over the issues in litigation train accidents and how they might affect you.
First, you need to identify the potentially liable parties. You do this by starting with everyone who is involved in the accident. For instance, the train operator (company), train owner, conductor, the government agency responsible for oversight (in California that might be CalTrans or another transportation agency), the municipality in which the accident occurred, the owner of the freight cars, owner of the freight, and all of their insurance companies.
As you can see, that is a lot of potentially liable people. That is why it always seems like chaos rules after a train accident because no one knows who is liable or why.
Now that you have your list of potential defendants, you analyze the cause of the crash. The cause or causes of the crash will inform which of the people on that list are liable for your harm. For this stage, you will rely heavily on government investigators, their findings will largely govern how litigation proceeds.
If you were injured in a train accident, you should speak with an attorney at your earliest convenience. Litigating these cases is complicated and you might be tempted to accept the first settlement offer. It is critical that you avoid initial settlement offers until you speak with a lawyer. Most of these first offers are designed to get you to settle for less than what you are reasonably entitled to receive. An attorney can review the offer and help you determine the best way to respond.