When people think about collisions involving vehicles, they rarely imagine crashes with trains. These kinds of accidents, however, have some of the most devastating consequences for victims, resulting in catastrophic injuries that often end up being deadly for the parties involved. These fatal accidents occur much more often in Florida than most people realize. For instance, a four year review of data provided by the Federal Railroad Administration revealed that Florida ranks sixth in the country for the highest number of railroad crossing deaths.
Where Do Florida Train Accidents Occur?
Most train accidents occur in urban areas, where there is more vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Slower moving freight trains are much less likely to be involved in collisions or to cause serious injuries or death, as they simply don’t travel as quickly as passenger trains, which have become more popular in recent years. Motorcycle riders and passengers in school buses have also proven to be more likely to be seriously injured at railroad crossings, with these populations accounting for nearly 30 percent of injured parties. According to researchers, more than one-third of train accidents happen because a pedestrian or driver failed to yield to a train, which is required under Florida law.
Who is Liable for Train Accident Fatalities?
Train accidents occur for a lot of different reasons, including everything from mechanical failure (of either the train or the vehicle) or a lack of visibility due to overgrown foliage to conductor error or driver recklessness. Other common causes of train accidents include:
- Defective railroad signals;
- Hazardous crossings;
- Defective tracks;
- Train derailments; and
- Explosions or fires.
Who can be held liable for a train accident will depend largely on which of these causes contributed to a crash. If, for instance, a conductor was inebriated at the time of an accident, he or she, as well as that person’s employer, could be held liable for any fatal injuries. Other potentially liable parties include:
- Train companies;
- Train manufacturers;
- Track owners; and
- Other motorists.
Even if the victim bore some responsibility for a crash, his or her surviving loved ones could still be entitled to wrongful death damages under Florida law, which adheres to a comparative negligence standard of liability.
How Do I Demonstrate Fault for a Fatal Train Accident?
Fault for a collision between a train and a vehicle or a train and a pedestrian isn’t always obvious, so it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation. The Florida Department of Transportation typically takes the lead when investigating these kinds of accidents and then will issue a written report. If mechanical failure or operator error, for instance, contributed to or caused a crash, this report will note it.
It’s still critical, however, for the surviving relatives of accident victims to conduct their own investigations by not only assessing these reports, but also inspecting the scene of the accident, speaking with experts, and looking at evidence, like black boxes, which record important information about a train’s direction, speed, and braking immediately prior to an accident. Train crossing signals and gates are also monitored, so this data can be used to help determine whether a problem with the system contributed to the accident. Eyewitness accounts can also be used to help establish the cause of a crash.
How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Florida law allows the surviving family members of loved ones who were lost in fatal accidents to seek compensation via wrongful death lawsuits. These claims can help grieving family members recover reimbursement for a wide range of financial losses, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- The victim’s medical care;
- Lost income and benefits;
- The loss of services provided by the victim; and
- A loss of companionship and affection.
However, to have a chance of recovering compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit, a victim’s family members will need to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. In Florida, this deadline is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. Those who fail to file a claim before this deadline risk having their case dismissed by the court and missing out on the chance to recover wrongful death damages.
Reach Out to Our Miami Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help
If your loved one passed away after being injured in a railroad accident, the parties responsible should compensate you for your financial losses. The dedicated wrongful death lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein can help you pursue maximum compensation for your losses. Call us at 305-371-2692 to set up a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day.