Tragedy recently struck the New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken Terminal when a speeding train crashed through several safety barriers before ultimately smashing into the passenger depot. One person was killed and over 100 were hurt, some seriously, including both passengers and those waiting near the platform when the crash occurred.
Witnesses reported that the locomotive did not even brake as it approached the terminal, which sent the lead train car flying through the air. The one fatality was a 34-year-old woman on the platform who was hit by debris from the crash.
In May of 2011, a similar but non-fatal crash happened at the same stop at the Hoboken Terminal when a train went through a bumper block. In that case, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the accident was caused by the train’s engineer failing to slow the locomotive down before entering the station.
Who is at Fault in Train Crashes?
Following a train crash, a multitude of investigators work to determine how and why the crash occurred and, among other factors, whether the crash could have been avoided by following proper protocols. Just like aircrafts, trains are equipped with data recorders that register variables like speed and location.
Additionally, trains are equipped with rear-facing cameras to record the engineer’s activities during the trip and leading up to the minutes before a catastrophic crash. All of this data becomes important when analyzing the cause of a train accident.
Who Can Be Held Responsible After a Train Crash?
The employer of the train conductor is just one of many parties that victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against after a train accident. This may be a private company contracted to operate the rail lines or a municipality if publically owned by a state, local, or federal entity. Employers have a legal duty to properly screen applicants to ensure prospective employees are not a danger to the public or other workers. Furthermore, negligent training and supervision of employees may also be the lead cause of a train accident. If proper training and corrective action are not taken when train conductors or engineers operate a locomotive, the results can be catastrophic and the employer may be held responsible for subsequent harm.
Moreover, train accidents can be caused by conductors operating their trains under the influence of drugs or alcohol or simply not paying attention. Other times, accidents occur because the train operator was tired from working too many hours or even distracted because he or she was using a cell phone. Employers who knew or should have known about this type of careless behavior by their workers could be held responsible by victims.
Other times, companies responsible for the maintenance of the train or railways may be at fault if investigators determine shoddy repair work was done on the train or tracks. By that same token, train parts manufacturers or suppliers producing defectively designed or manufactured parts may be the at-fault party for a train crash as well.
Determining the cause of a train crash and the parties responsible is a complicated matter. Therefore, if you were injured in a train accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine your rights.