Train Accident Injuries
For many people in Southern California, trains offer eco-friendly and economically viable transportation. Amtrak and Metrolink trains are relatively fast and efficient. As train popularity increases, so does the number of trains. Unfortunately, aging railroad infrastructure is not always able to keep up. And, the ever-increasing need for new engineers means that some underqualified individuals might operate these vehicles.
At the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim, our dedicated Los Angeles train accident attorneys pay close attention to the details. After a catastrophic train wreck, it’s easy to make rash conclusions. Instead, our professional team thoroughly evaluates your claim and then collects evidence on your behalf. Then, once the case goes to court, we never stop fighting for you. Through it all, we proactively communicate with you, so you are never in the dark.
Common Carrier Duty in California
In most jurisdictions, truck drivers, Uber drivers, train operators, and other commercial operators who transport goods or people for fees (common carriers) have a high duty of care. But the Golden State has one of the highest duties in the country.
According to California Civil Code Section 2100, common carriers “must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”
In other words, SoCal trains must have the latest equipment and top operators. One or the other is not good enough.
What Causes Train Accidents?
Theoretical legal responsibility is not enough. For a Los Angeles train accident attorney to obtain compensation, the train operator must have been negligent, at least in most cases.
Operator fatigue causes a number of train wrecks, especially during early morning commutes. Many people are naturally drowsy at this time of day, regardless of how much rest they had the night before.
Certain medical conditions increase the danger. For example, many people who sit for long periods of time, such as train conductors, have sleep apnea. People with this condition get little if any deep, restorative sleep. Instead, they basically nap all night.
Substance impairment is sometimes a problem as well. Many train conductors take medication that has dangerous side-effects. Others use alcohol or drugs. Even a small quantity of such a substance is enough to cause impairment.
As mentioned, California’s train infrastructure is rather old, for the most part. This hazard causes many train wrecks. Some examples include:
- Track problems,
- Signal issues, and
- Equipment failure.
Generally, the railroad company is legally responsible for damages in these situations. California’s common carrier law requires owners to keep equipment in top shape. The failure to do so, even if that failure was rather slight, is usually negligence.
Your Claim for Damages
First, a Los Angeles train accident attorney must determine the appropriate legal duty and the cause of the crash. Then, once medical treatment is at least substantially complete, attorneys usually send demand letters to insurance companies. If liability is relatively clear, the insurance company has a duty to settle the case quickly.
This duty often applies in train wreck claims. In vehicle collision claims, insurance companies might have some defenses, like contributory negligence or assumption of the risk. But these defenses are normally unavailable in train wreck claims.
Nevertheless, these claims are complex. Frequently, train wrecks involve multiple victims from multiple geographic locations. Therefore, determining the right place to bring legal action is challenging. A mistake at this point could cause a costly and frustrating delay.
Most train wreck claims settle out of court. This settlement usually includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme situations.
Our Experienced Train Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in a train accident, contact a personal injury attorney to help you. To schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer experienced in train accidents, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim in Los Angeles County. Call 800-LAW-TALK (529-8255) or contact us online.