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Amtrak Accidents Abound

Jason Reese

Just a few days into the month and already Amtrak is having a bad April. On Saturday night, the Amtrak Capitol Corridor Train struck and killed a man who was walking on the tracks in West Sacramento, California. On Sunday, a man died when his car was hit by a train after driving around train crossing gates in Somonauk, Illinois. On Sunday evening, a man was seriously injured and had to have his leg amputated after being struck by an Amtrak train near a train stop in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

The worst and most perplexing accident occurred Sunday morning around 8 am. Amtrak train 89, one of the busiest stretches of track in the entire country, was derailed when it struck a backhoe and two Amtrak employees in Chester, Pennsylvania. The train was heading for Savannah, Georgia when it hit the machinery and workers, apparently there completing maintenance on the track. The two workers were killed, and thirty-five others, including the train’s engineer, were injured and taken to the hospital. The National Transportation Safety Board has thus far found the train to have been traveling at a reasonable speed and have stated that video cameras prior to the accident show construction equipment and a contractor’s equipment on an adjacent track. Though initially, there was an outcry about the “colossal mistake” made by the backhoe operator and railroad supervisor, investigators say there is a great deal of data to be reviewed before determining the true cause of the accident.

Types and Causes of Train Accidents

For 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis reports 25 train-fatalities in Indiana, with about three-quarters of those classified as someone who was trespassing. The remaining deaths were either classified as involving railroad workers, contractors, or non-trespassing individuals. Over 150 injuries and fatalities occurred on or near Indiana railroad tracks last year, including skull fractures, amputation injuries, crushing injuries, severe burns, eye injuries, and numerous other kinds of contusions, fractures, and puncture wounds.

Train accident victims can be train passengers, pedestrians or bystanders, vehicle drivers or passengers, or railroad workers. While many accidents may in part be due to an individual trespassing on the tracks or other railroad property, there are many other causes that can contribute to railroad injuries or fatalities.

  • Bystander slip and falls
  • Poorly maintained or faulty tracks or equipment
  • Cargo trains carrying too much weight
  • Defective railroad signals or safety gates
  • Obstructed crossings that are difficult for drivers to see
  • Objects protruding outward from the train
  • Obstacles on the tracks
  • Locomotive engineer error (failing to sound horn and/or use lights, distracted driving, excessive speed, etc.)

Even in the case of a trespassing individual, the train company may be partly liable for injuries arising from an accident, depending on the facts of the case. If you or a loved one has been injured or if someone in your family has been killed in a train or railroad-related accident, it is a good idea to consult a train accident attorney who has significant experience working with clients to protect themselves and their family members against the insurance companies of railroad corporations. The vehicular accident and wrongful death attorneys at Wagner Reese can help. Please call us today for your FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.


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