On Sunday, December 1, 2013, a Metro-North passenger train departed Poughkeepsie heading for New York City. As the train traveled through the Bronx, all 7 cars derailed along a sharp curve near the Henry Hudson Bridge in the Bronx. Four passengers died as a result of the crash and at least 67 were injured.
It was determined that the accident happened because the engineer had an undiagnosed sleep disorder that made him drowsy while driving the train. Investigators found that the train had been traveling at 82 miles per hour, but the brakes reached their maximum level 5 seconds after the train entered the curve.
More than 2 years later, on February 2, 2015, another Metro-North commuter train struck a passenger car near Valhalla, New York. The collision killed 6 people and injured 15. This was considered to be the deadliest crash in Metro-North history, and the deadliest in the U.S. since 2009.
The crash was caused when a driver was caught between crossing gates that lowered onto the rear of her car. She moved forward onto the tracks, rather than backing up. The driver was killed and her car loosened 450 feet of the third rail, which broke into pieces and went through the exterior of the train car. The crash killed 5 passengers and started a fire on the train.
New York’s Metro-North is the nation’s second-largest commuter rail system in the country. Metro-North includes:
This system covers transportation throughout New York City, its outlying suburbs, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
Buffalo also has a Metro Rail, which is operated by Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. The Buffalo train line, which runs both above- and underground, is about 6.5 miles long and serves the area from one of the University at Buffalo campus locations to downtown Buffalo.
The other way that New Yorkers travel by train is Amtrak, which carries passengers both between New York state cities and to locations outside the state. You can travel by Amtrak from various cities in New York to cities all over the Northeast, East Coast and parts of the midwest, including Toronto, New Orleans, Orlando, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Overall, train travel is very safe. These statistics reflect the total numbers of train fatalities, injuries, and accidents nationwide over the past several decades:
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Up to 6 million riders per day use the New York City subways. There are about 290,000 riders per week on the Metro-North and LIRR.
The majority of these statistics reflect accidents between trains and cars at railroad crossings, or between trains and pedestrians (or people on a subway or train platform or tracks). Being injured as a train passenger is far less likely.
Stopping a train accident might make you think of Superman catching a speeding locomotive with his bare hands. But you don’t have to be Superman to take precautions that will help you to avoid being a victim in a train wreck.
The 2 main causes of train accidents are human error and equipment failure.
Human error could be on the part of the train operator or it could be the fault of a driver trying to cross the tracks. “Train racing” describes the actions of someone who tries to cross railroad tracks when the train is approaching. If you’re a train passenger injured because of a collision between the train and a car or truck trying to cross the tracks, that driver would be the liable party.
There can also be human error by the conductor or engineer. This might include negligence, like being distracted by a mobile phone, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failure to follow safety protocols, traveling at an unsafe speed, or otherwise not adhering to the rules of the job.
Equipment failure is another main cause of train accidents. This could include:
Most railroad workers are covered under the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA). An employee covered under FELA doesn’t receive workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, which means a worker is covered for any job-related injury regardless of whether someone was at fault.
FELA is different from workers’ compensation because the worker must prove that the railroad company was negligent. Even so, the railroad company might still have to pay for the worker’s injuries if the railroad was partially responsible and the worker was also partially responsible.
Liability can be complicated, especially if the accident involved a train owned by a municipal authority like MTA. If you need to file a lawsuit against a public transportation entity, the rules will be different than if you’re suing a private person or company.
The liable party could be a vehicle driver, train personnel, the train company, the entity that maintains the safety of the tracks and stations, or the manufacturer of certain parts of the train. Your lawyer will conduct discovery and investigate the accident to determine who’s at fault (there could also be more than one responsible party).
If you’re injured, you can recover damages intended to compensate you for the costs associated with the accident, including:
However, filing a claim against a government entity has a different time period — sometimes, just a few months. Your lawyer can make sure that you correctly file a Notice of Claim and other requirements on time in order to preserve your right to compensation.
For all of these reasons, an attorney is your best bet for recovering financial damages. A train accident can be complicated, involve several parties, and you might have suffered catastrophic injuries. You want to be sure to get the compensation you need and deserve.
The Enjuris law firm directory is your guide to finding a New York train accident lawyer who knows how to fully investigate your claim and seek financial recovery.