The ability to quickly move products into and out of Missouri often involves using freight trains that travel into or through the area. Missouri residents and visitors also have many reasons to arrive at their destination quickly, and many rely on the MetroLink service to take them to locations throughout the city. While trains are a necessary mode of transport in Missouri, they pose risks to travelers, drivers, and pedestrians as they cross a road.
Train accidents, as with other types of accidents involving vehicles, most often occur as a result of negligence. If a train accident injured you, an experienced Missouri train accident lawyer can seek compensation for you. We can also provide more information about the services we can offer to help you with your claim.
Table of Contents
- Types of Trains Accidents in Missouri
- Seeking Compensation After a Missouri Train Accident
- Vale of Your Claim
- Contact a Missouri Train Accident Lawyer Today
The Types of Trains That Travel To (or Through) Missouri
Both freight trains and those carrying passengers travel to or through Missouri.
As explained by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT), St. Louis has the third-largest cargo rail hub in the nation, with the convenience of several interstates and highways, the Port of St. Louis, and an additional port in Jefferson County.
The carriers who transport cargo to or through Missouri include:
- Burlington Northern Santa Fe
- Canadian Northern Railway
- Kansas City Southern
- Norfolk Southern
- Union Pacific
Despite being among the largest hubs in the country, MDOT reports that challenges make it difficult for the city to compete with other rail hubs. City leaders are considering ways to make St. Louis more than just a pass-through by creating additional cargo facilities that can allow it to become an alternative hub to Chicago, which tends to be highly congested.
The Amtrak Gateway Station in St. Louis is a state-of-the-art facility that provides travelers with access to Amtrak routes and light-rail and local or intercity buses. The station features a first-class lounge, a ticket sales office, Amtrak ticketing kiosks, and the ability for children to travel unaccompanied.
Bi-State Development Agency also offers Blue Line and Red Line MetroLink Service in St. Louis.
These lines carry passengers between the airport and major business and entertainment destinations, including downtown St. Louis, the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis riverfront, Busch Stadium, and Forest Park.
- The Blue Line provides service between the Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44 MetroLink Station in Missouri and the Fairview Heights MetroLink Station in Illinois.
- The Red Line provides service between the Lambert Airport Terminal #1 MetroLink Station in Missouri and the Shiloh-Scott MetroLink Station in Illinois.
Types of Train Accidents
There are around 50 train accidents in Missouri each year, with a handful of injuries and an occasional fatality involved in these accidents. Here is a look at some factors that can result in a Missouri train accident.
Derailments are the most common type of train accident in Missouri and beyond. Derailments occur when one or more train cars come off the tracks.
The causes of derailments include:
- Collision with an object on the tracks.
- Operational errors, including traveling too fast around curves.
- Mechanical failures on the track, such as broken rails.
- Mechanical failure of the train’s wheels or brakes.
- Deliberate derailments to avoid a more serious accident.
Train-on-train collisions are often the result of miscommunication or signaling errors that can result in two trains traveling the same stretch of track at once. Occasionally a train conductor will deviate from their scheduled time to use the track, or a train will become disabled on the tracks. If the train conductor traveling behind it doesn't find out, a crash may occur.
Collisions With Motor Vehicles
The average train weighs around 12 million pounds, which is 4,000 times more than the average passenger car. The discrepancy in size between the vehicles is similar to that between a car and an aluminum soda can.
Thousands of collisions occur between trains and motor vehicles, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and injuries. These collisions almost always occur at railroad crossings, and often these crossings do not feature the crossbar warning signs that alert a driver of the approaching trains. Train conductors often fail to use their horns to warn motorists at these unmarked crossings.
Other causes of train-car collisions include:
- Mechanical issues with the vehicle that cause it to stall or become stuck on the tracks.
- Drivers navigating around lowered gates at the track.
- Drivers attempting to beat the train, unaware of how close it is or how fast it is moving
Collisions involving a train and another vehicle often feature a semi-truck as the other vehicle. Because semi-trucks are slow to accelerate after a complete stop, a truck will take about 27 seconds to cross a railroad track at 2 miles per hour. A train moving 44 miles per hour will cover 660 feet in around 11 seconds. This can cause an accident in which the truck driver did not even see the oncoming train until they were already crossing the tracks.
Collisions With Pedestrians
Pedestrian railroad accidents are the leading cause of death on railways, accounting for around 500 fatalities a year. While the railroad industry is quick to blame this type of accident on careless trespassing or suicide this type of train accident can also result from an unmarked crossing and the conductor’s failure to use their horn when approaching the crossing.
Injuries at the Station or Inside the Train
Railway companies and the agencies that manage their stations have to protect travelers when they are on the train and at the station.
Two common issues that can result in deaths inside the station or on a moving train include:
- A slip and fall accident in the station that resulted from wet or slippery floors or obstacles in the train's walkway.
- Criminal activity known to occur in train stations or on trains. The carrier has a responsibility to protect travelers from known criminal activity. Unfortunately, the security at many rail stations in the U.S. is lacking, with no video surveillance, metal detectors, or other screening before people enter the station or the train. Occasionally, if there is an issue, a visitor can be patted down, and bomb-sniffing dogs frequently patrol train stations. However, the overall security at a train station tends to be far lower than that of an airport.
Seeking Compensation After a Missouri Train Accident
Those injured in Missouri train accidents caused by someone else’s negligence can seek compensation. This process generally begins when the injured person hires an attorney to help them with their case.
A Missouri train accident lawyer then goes to work:
The term liability refers to the legal responsibility that a person or entity has to compensate others for physical harm and property damage that their careless or reckless actions caused. Freight and passenger rail carriers are common carriers that transport people or goods according to defined schedules and routes. Common carriers owe the highest duty of care to travelers. They must take several measures to prevent injuries at stations, on the train, or injuries occurring to motorists or pedestrians due to the train operator’s negligence.
Other potential sources of liability in train accidents include:
- The manufacturer used malfunctioning parts on the train or tracks, resulting in a train accident.
- Entities hired to maintain the train station facilities or provide cleaning services on the train that can result in slippery floors, the presence of caustic chemicals, and other hazards.
- Other motorists whose negligence resulted in a train-car collision that resulted in a derailment that injured or killed passengers.
Valuing Your Claim
The value of a train accident claim is not based solely on the expenses incurred to treat the claimant’s injuries.
Other factors in valuing a train accident claim include:
- The amount of the at-fault party's insurance. Common carriers must obtain a significant amount of liability insurance coverage to compensate the public that they are in the business to serve. However, even big liability insurance policies are subject to policy limits. Accidents involving passenger trains often result in injuries or deaths to multiple people, and they must share the available coverage.
- The severity of the injuries sustained. The more severe the injury is, the more expenses the claimant may incur. Train accident injuries can be quite severe, involving catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, damage to the spinal cord, or traumatic limb amputations that will cause the claimant to lose their future earning capacity. These claims must be valued higher to compensate the claimant for the wages they are no longer capable of earning due to their injury.
Making a Demand
Once the attorney has determined all sources of liability and insurance policies available to compensate the claim, they can demand the at-fault party’s insurance provider pay the claim’s full value.
The insurance provider can either:
- Pay the demand
- Deny the claim
- Offer a settlement
Filing a Lawsuit
If the at-fault party’s insurance provider fails to pay the claim either outright or through settlement, the claimant’s attorney can file it as a Missouri train accident lawsuit. Per Missouri’s statute of limitations, you must file the claim within five years of the injury.
If you fail to file a lawsuit by the statute of limitations, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries. Without the ability to sue the at-fault party, they will not settle the claim.
Negotiating a Settlement
Train accident claims most often resolve through a negotiated settlement. The at-fault party’s insurance provider can make a settlement offer at any time during the process, as long as the court has not decided on the matter. This includes offering a settlement before you file the train accident lawsuit in court, after the court sets a trial date, or even after litigation begins.
The case will go to trial if the insurance provider fails to compensate a Missouri train accident claim.
A train accident attorney may:
- Gather evidence needed to prove the claim in court and prepare exhibits to present this evidence.
- Depose witnesses and obtain expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction experts.
- File motions to request evidence from the at-fault party.
- Present the case in court.
Collecting Your Settlement or Award
After a train accident claim, an attorney can help their client obtain the settlement’s proceeds or court award. Because our Missouri train accident attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, you will only pay legal fees for the services we provide upon collecting your compensation.
Our Missouri Train Accident Lawyers Can Help
Train accidents are usually chaotic, and seeking compensation for your injuries can be complex. Let an experienced Missouri train accident lawyer from The Bruning Law Firm help you make sense of this process. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (314) 735-8100.
Client Testimonial"Aj and Beth were great to work with! After having injuries from my car accident, I contacted them right away. They informed me the whole way and they always kept in touch. I was pleasantly surprised that my settlement took less than half of the time predicted! I felt very confident with them the whole way through my healing process and settlement!" - Alex M.
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