Train accidents are some of the most dangerous situations for train passengers, motorists, and pedestrians alike. What’s more, these situations occur far more frequently than you might suspect. If you were injured in a train accident, you should strongly consider whether you have the ability to seek compensation through a lawsuit.
Many of the common causes of train accidents, such as broken tracks, warning signal failure, and train operator error would constitute negligence and create grounds for a lawsuit. Through legal action, injury victims can recover compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, with the potential opportunity to seek additional punitive damages.
To hear more about your case and what you stand to recover by acting now, call (312) 578-8502 to get a free first-time case assessment from the dedicated Illinois train accident lawyers at Rhatigan Law Offices.
Causes of Train Accidents in Illinois
Train accidents can occur in a variety of different ways, including the following:
- Car Strikes
- Pedestrian Strikes
- Train Collisions
- Toxic Spills
In any of these unfortunate scenarios, the cause of the accident can usually be traced to negligence. Below are some of the forms that this negligence can take that could create liability for injuries suffered in train accidents.
Poorly Maintained Tracks
Infrastructure throughout Illinois and across the country has fallen into disrepair. Though track owners are responsible for implementing inspection and maintenance procedures, they often fail in this responsibility, either by using ineffective methods or failing to institute these procedures at all. Worn or broken tracks can cause derailments, particularly on lines with high usage rates.
Warning Signal Issues
Just as important as maintaining the tracks is maintaining the safety features that are integral for safe train operation. Unfortunately, many crossings use warning signals that malfunction, or, worse yet, do not have warning signals installed at all. For the purposes of liability, there is hardly a difference between not having a crossing signal and having one that doesn’t function as it should. Both could land a crossing vehicle or pedestrian in life-threatening danger.
Train Operator Error
Train operation administrators are responsible for providing adequate training services to their employees, including conductors. This includes learning about how the weight of the train and weather conditions may impact the train’s ability to stop or handle curves. Inexperience and poor training are a frequent contributing factor to train accidents every year. In these cases, liability may lie with the entity responsible for training the inexperienced employee.
In addition to maintaining the actual tracks, track owners must also ensure that the area of view is clear for both the conductor and those not on the train who must cross the tracks safely. Overgrown trees and other vegetation can obscure view around curves, leaving all parties with limited ability to see what is coming down the tracks.
The cause of a train accident may go all the way back to the manufacturing stage. If the company that built the train (or any of the individual parts used in the construction of the train) developed a product with defects, their negligence could result in a train function failing when it is most critical.
Damages from a Train Accident Lawsuit in Illinois
If you were injured in a train accident, you can recover compensation by suing the party responsible for causing the accident. This compensation is referred to as “damages.” Damages are available in lawsuits whether the injury victim was a passenger on the train itself or not.
Illinois courts calculate damages based on both the financial and personal harms that the victim suffered as a result of the accident. In some cases, there may be additional damages available if the cause of the accident was intentionally harmful or grossly negligent.
The most straightforward segments of damages fall into the category of economic damages. These are calculated to account for the victim’s direct financial harms stemming from the accident. This may include all necessary medical expenditures, such as emergency care, hospital stays, ambulance fees, surgeries, specialist appointments, physical therapy, and prescription medication. Economic damages also take into account the victim’s financial losses from any time that they were forced to miss at work and their decreased earning potential caused by their injuries.
The consequences of a severe train accident injury do not stop at a victim’s bank account. Train accident injury victims may suffer from chronic pain that affects their daily lives for an extended or even indefinite period. These injuries may also provide a constant reminder of the traumatic experience, which may lead to the onset of difficult psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your Illinois train accident attorney can explain to you how a lawsuit could obtain you compensation for the damage to relationships, loss of enjoyment of life, and overall pain and suffering that you have and will experience.
Not every train accident injury lawsuit can obtain punitive damages. Rather, this type of compensation is only available when the defendant’s harmful conduct deserves to be punished additionally. You should always consult with your Illinois train accident attorney about the opportunity to obtain punitive damages, as many causes of train accidents may be considered intentionally malicious or grossly negligent.
Time Limit on Filing an Illinois Train Accident Lawsuit
According to Illinois’ statute of limitations, train accident injury victims only have two years from the date of the accident to file their lawsuit. Further, if the party responsible for causing the accident is a government entity, you may face a notice deadline that falls well in advance of the two-year window. This is all dependent on the jurisdiction that you are in and the party you plan to sue, so reach out to your Illinois train accident lawyer for more information.
Discuss Your Case with the Illinois Train Accident Attorneys at Rhatigan Law Offices
To get your free first-time case assessment from the seasoned Illinois train accident lawyers at Rhatigan Law Offices, call us right now at (312) 578-8502.