Trains present an alternative to the dangerous roads to get around the St. Louis area. There are numerous forms of rail transit for traveling within St. Louis and outside the city. However, trains are not entirely free from their dangers. You can be injured in a train or by one. If you can establish that the accident was the fault of the train operator, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, contact a train accident attorney in Creve Coeur to learn more about your legal rights.
The attorneys at Bruning Law Firm can take legal action on your behalf, no matter who the responsible party is. We hold governments and companies accountable for their actions when they have injured you through their carelessness.
Our legal team has achieved many six and seven-figure settlements and awards for injured clients, and we have the resources to take on high-stakes and complex claims, including those involving train corporations and government entities.
When you want legal representation you can trust in Creve Coeur or throughout the Metro area or Metro East, look no further than Bruning Law Firm.
Train Accidents and Injuries
Although railroad travel is generally safer than driving, there are still injuries and fatalities each year. There were a total of 893 railroad deaths in a recent year. According to the National Safety Council, there were 5,781 people who suffered injuries in railroad-related accidents that year. The number slightly increased over the past year, although fewer people were on trains that year due to the pandemic.
These numbers do not account for other types of injuries on trains, including being the victim of a physical attack or falling. They also do not include injuries sustained when in the vicinity of a train or waiting to board.
Public policymakers encourage more people to take trains because it is better for the environment. However, rail safety throughout the country is not without its faults.
Every year, there are numerous accidents and injuries involving trains that, include:
Collisions with other trains
Slip and fall accidents on trains
Drivers in cars suffering injuries when a train hits their vehicle
People falling on train platforms
Injuries when attacked on trains due to inadequate security
Train accidents and mass transit have both been in public view recently. The new Bipartisan Infrastructure law contains billions of funding for new mass transit systems to build a more extensive network. The hope is to take more people off the road. Train safety has also been in focus after a recent accident in Ohio that resulted in the discharge of hazardous chemicals. Rail safety regulations and requirements have become less strict in recent years, putting people in more danger.
Trains in the Metro Area
Metrolink provides rail services in the St Louis area regarding the local rail by mass transit. Every day, roughly 20,000 people ride this light-rail system. Metrolink operates as an above-ground rail system and a subway in Downtown St Louis. Bi-State Development, a governmental company between agencies in Missouri and Illinois, operates Metrolink.
Although the trains are not often involved in accidents, there are many ways that people can suffer harm on Metrolink trains or in the vicinity.
There is a violent crime problem on Metrolink trains. These trains had 132 violent crime incidents in the last year before the pandemic. This number represents one incident almost every other day. The violent crime rate is roughly six per every 100,000 unique riders.
Metrolink itself must provide adequate security for its riders. Metrolink has a transit police force that is not always effective. Metrolink employs security guards, but in one instance, the security guards themselves faced accusations of assaulting a passenger. In January 2023, Metrolink suspended approximately 200 riders from riding the trains and buses for various offenses, including violent assaults.
You can file a lawsuit if you suffered injuries due to assault on a Metrolink train and can prove there was inadequate security. Metrolink must provide reasonable protection, especially when specific routes, stations, or times have more assaults. The mere fact that an assault occurred is not enough to hold Metrolink responsible you must show that they acted unreasonably and failed to live up to their duties.
Passengers can also be injured on trains when they fall. With heavy foot traffic on trains throughout the day, a passenger may spill something on the floor. Metrolink will need to clean trains throughout the day to remedy dangerous conditions. If a dangerous condition existed for too long, and Metrolink did nothing about it, they can be liable in a slip-and-fall accident.
These rules do not just apply to trains. Metrolink will need to make reasonable efforts to keep passengers safe in stations and on train platforms. They will also have an obligation to keep platforms free of dangerous conditions and provide security in stations.
There are different rules for suing Metrolink because a government agency operates it. Under Missouri law, you will have only 90 days to file a personal injury claim against Metrolink, so you must act quickly. Metrolink is not immune from being sued for its carelessness just because they are a state-owned agency.
Amtrak trains also travel through the Greater St. Louis area. Given the city’s location in the heart of the country, numerous trains pass through the area daily. Although Amtrak accidents are rare, those that do happen cause severe injury and even death.
One of the worst passenger rail disasters in recent years occurred in Missouri. An Amtrak train struck a dump truck that was at a crossing. The impact caused the train to derail. Four people died in the accident, and 150 people suffered an injury. More than half the people on the train had losses from the crash.
As of this writing, the investigation into the crash is still in process. One focus is on the crossing, described as dangerous before the accident. Amtrak should be responsible for a dangerous crossing, especially when it had prior notice of the problem. Numerous accident victims have filed a lawsuit against Amtrak.
There is an open question about whether you can file a lawsuit against Amtrak in court. The transportation company has tried to sneak a provision into the ticket agreement that requires you to arbitrate any dispute against Amtrak instead of immediately suing them in civil court. There are likely to be numerous legal challenges to this arbitration clause, especially after the lawsuits from the Missouri train disaster.
Still, you have legal options if you suffered an injury in an Amtrak crash. You can still receive financial compensation if your case goes to arbitration. Even if the case is not in court, Amtrak still cannot escape consequences for its negligence.
Injuries and Death at Railroad Crossings
Another type of railroad injury occurs when transit or freight trains hit drivers at crossings. Metrolink runs above grade in its right-of-way but crosses streets at various points. There are also many freight train crossings, especially in the southern parts of St. Louis.
Drivers rely on gates and barriers to keep them out of the train’s path. These signaling systems do not always work as intended. When trains hit cars, there is a near-certainty of severe injury or death. You will often file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one. Missouri law allows family members to receive compensation for their injury, which is the loss of a loved one.
Liability for rail crossing accidents depends on the circumstances. The train operator often tries to blame the driver who was struck for the crash, arguing that they were improperly in the crossing when the train passed. The story is not always that simple.
The train company is responsible for maintaining the crossings and ensuring safety. If the crossing has a dangerous design, or the lights and safeguards are not correctly working, the train company may still be responsible for what happened. You will need evidence proving that the train operator was at fault for the accident.
Injuries to People in the Surrounding Areas After Train Accidents
Train accidents do not just cause injuries to those on the train itself. As we learned in the recent derailment of a train in East Palestine, Ohio, trains can be extremely dangerous when carrying hazardous materials. In the past, 1141 people suffered an injury when a train carrying HAZMAT derailed in North Dakota.
In these cases, the train operator can be liable for the costs of cleanup and any injuries suffered by people in the surrounding areas. These people may need extensive healthcare to treat their injuries from exposure to toxic substances. Currently, the derailment in East Palestine has caused an ongoing environmental disaster. Thousands of people had to leave their homes because of toxins spilling from the train.
While these accidents did not occur in the Creve Coeur area, similar incidents might happen at any time, or you might suffer injuries in a less widespread train event. In these cases, you may be suing a company, so there may be no limits on the damages you may receive.
Damages in a Train Accident Case
If you suffered an injury in a train accident, you may may recover damages for:
The complete costs of your medical care
Lost income for time missed from work
Pain and suffering for what you have endured since the accident
The loss of enjoyment of life
Embarrassment and humiliation
If you are suing Metrolink, you will not receive punitive damages since it is a governmental entity. Although the government waives its sovereign immunity in these cases, it will not have to pay punitive damages.
Missouri also has limits on damages when you are suing a public entity. These damages both apply to an individual claimant and on a per-incident basis. The state adjusts these limits to inflation, so they rise each year.
There Are Caps on Total Liability for an Amtrak Accident
Amtrak accidents are a different story. Even though Amtrak is partly government, the company still might have to pay punitive damages in some cases. However, federal law limits the total liability for a single train accident to $200 million. Even though Amtrak must play by the same rules as any other transportation provider, they do get some degree of protection from the federal government.
Thus, if you suffered an injury in an event with many casualties, you may be jockeying against others for the same pot of money. Since 154 people suffered an injury or died in the recent Missouri Amtrak accident, some may not get full compensation for their damages.
Why Train Accident Lawsuits Require a Lawyer?
Whether you are suing Metrolink, Amtrak, or another train operator, they each have their lawyers dedicated to defending them from these cases. Just because Metrolink is a governmental entity does not mean that they want to pay you what you deserve in a train accident. Their lawyers can be every bit as bad as any insurance company.
The same thing goes for Amtrak. You need a hard-nosed lawyer to take on the government, Amtrak, or another train company. The way to get your money is not by saying please. You must firmly assert your legal rights, which the attorneys at Bruning Law Firm will do on your behalf.
Amtrak has earned itself a reputation for being hard-nosed in every legal action. The train operator wants to save itself from liability above all else. You often need to fight Amtrak for every single penny that you get.
Contact a Creve Coeur Train Accident Lawyer Today
If you have suffered an injury in any train accident, you need a lawyer who can get to the bottom of your case quickly. The attorneys at Bruning Law Firm will get to work to perform a complete investigation of the accident that injured you. We will then seek to make the responsible party or pirates pay for what they did. We do not take prisoners while fighting for our client’s legal rights.
To speak with a personal injury attorney in Creve Coeur, you can message us online or call us today at (314) 786-2615. We work for you on a contingency basis, so you owe us nothing unless we can help you win your case.
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