Railroads have a rich history in our Nation, signifying the arrival of affluence and growth around the country. Now, mass transit is a major part of being able to successfully navigate the City and save on time and cost in our hustle-and-bustle society. Train trips are no longer saved for relaxing getaways—they are just a normal part of an everyday commute for thousands of New Yorkers.
But although trains are safe for the most part, when a train vs. pedestrian accident does happen, the injuries can be catastrophic. Due to the size and speed of a train, and the time it takes for it to brake, the chances of a person surviving a train collision without major injuries are borderline miraculous. And although we would hope these incidents are rare, statistics show that pedestrian collisions are actually on the rise.
Just last year, multiple people were killed after being struck by trains. In November 2017, a 21-year-old woman died after being hit by a commuter train in Norfolk. The month before that, a man was killed in New Jersey after being hit by an NJ transit train. Part of the problem lies in the hands of the rail companies, which have not properly educated the public or improved warning systems. Then there are the random instances where pedestrians make bad judgment calls, like the case where a Colorado woman fell asleep on train tracks with her headphones in, and failed to hear the coming train that rolled over her. Astoundingly, the woman was unharmed.
According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, there were 1,080 pedestrian rail trespass casualties in 2016. In 2017, there were 16 deaths and 22 injuries in New York from pedestrians on train tracks.
It’s very important to follow railroad rules to avoid being seriously injured or killed by a train. Here are some basic safety tips for pedestrians:
When it comes to pedestrian/train accidents, the blame is at times unfairly thrown at pedestrians. However, it’s not always the fault of the pedestrian. Rail system safety technology hasn’t been updated in years, and most rail companies rely on technology developed over 70 years ago. In a train accident claim, there are a few ways that a lawsuit can be won. For example, if you can prove that the train engineer was operating the train in a negligent manner; or that the property where the accident took place was unreasonably dangerous; or that the railroad company was aware that people frequently cross at the location of the accident but didn’t take the necessary steps to protect pedestrians.
Even if you are partly at fault, it doesn’t mean others aren’t responsible as well. Sometimes there are two parties that share the blame. New York’s contributory negligence law states, “In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death, the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or to the decedent, including contributory negligence or assumption of risk, shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”
To put it in simple terms, in some states, contributory negligence means that you can’t collect damages in a lawsuit if you’re partially at fault. New York is NOT one of those states. You can sue any person or entity that was responsible for the accident. This includes the railroad company, vehicles involved in the accident, or anyone else who played a part in your injury.
If you or someone in your family has been injured in a rail-related incident—like the Long Island train crash—we are here to help you. A railroad incident can leave you with medical bills for a lifetime. Don’t just assume the incident was your fault. Let us determine if the railroad company was in any way liable or negligent.