When you think of a train vs. car accident, you normally think of a catastrophic accident scenario, and rightly so, when a train and a car collide, the passengers in both vehicles can be and usually are seriously or fatally injured. Normally, the driver of a vehicle and their passengers can get out of the car before the collision takes place, but this is not always the case. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has indicated there were 45 public highway-rail crossing incidents in Florida in 2017. Moreover, of the incidents that occurred that year, there were nine cases involving one or more fatalities and 25 involving non-fatal injuries.
These incidents include accidents of all kinds including pedestrian, car vs train, and other types of accidents that can occur due to equipment failures, but it does shed light on the fact that there is almost one train incident per week in our state, and the total has been increasing. In 2016, there were only 39 public highway-rail crossing incidents in our state, as opposed to the 45 that occured in the following year. Additionally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles estimates that there were over 200 accidents involving a railway vehicle, including seven accidents that resulted in one or more fatalities, in 2016. So, in light of this information, the question then becomes “Are car vs train accidents handled differently than traditional car accidents?”
Car vs. Train Accident Laws in Tampa, FL
Whether you are passing the railroad crossing at North 30th street or the one at Hillsborough Avenue, driving over or near railroad tracks is a risky endeavor, and when it comes to determining who is at fault and which laws are applicable in a train vs. car collision, the answer can be complex and require the expertise of a personal injury attorney with experience in train vs. car collisions. The reason being, you must first determine certain pieces of information before you can properly proceed with a claim.
What Caused the Accident?
Your car accident attorney will first have to investigate and determine exactly what caused the collision. This task is easier said than done and normally involves working collaboratively with either state or federal government officials. Common causes of train vs. car accidents include:
- Equipment malfunctions such as faulty breaks or defective safety equipment
- Defective railroads which cause a train to derail
- Human error on the part of the train conductor, which could be caused by fatigue, intoxication, or just plain incompetence
Determining the cause of the accident will allow your personal injury attorney to determine who is liable for the accident and thus, who should be responsible for compensating you for your injuries and property damage.
Who Owns the Train?
In an accident where a conductor is responsible, your personal injury lawyer must determine who owns the train. The train could be owned by the Federal Government, which owns Amtrak, the Florida Department of Transportation, or any number of private railroad companies. However, determining which company owns the train and which company employed the train conductor is an important piece of information, because it allows your personal injury attorney to determine which provision in the railway statute, F.S.§341.302, is applicable.
In general terms, the Florida Department of Transportation collects fees from Amtrak and private railroad operators that utilize certain railroads in Florida. A portion of the fees includes payments for the cost of liability insurance to cover the cost of damages incurred as a result of an accident caused by a train owned and operated by a private railroad company, Amtrak, or the Florida Department of Transportation. However, your personal injury attorney will also determine if any other entities or individuals caused, whether directly or indirectly, the accident to occur. Multiple parties can be responsible for a single accident, which is why train vs. car collision cases can be so complex and should only be approached with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Train vs. Car Accident Attorney in Tampa, FL
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that there were 168 fatalities and 736 injuries nationwide from collisions between trains and motor vehicles in 2017. These cases are often tragic and complex. As such, you should always contact a car accident attorney if you or your loved one has been involved in an accident involving a train, because failing to take immediate legal action could have a devastating impact on your ability to seek compensation for your injuries.
1-800-INJURED is a attorney and medical referral service. We connect car accident victims in Tampa and other parts of Florida to our highly skilled network of lawyers. So don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact 1-800-INJURED to speak with a car accident attorney in Tampa, FL today.