Orange County Train Accidents Attorney
Handling Train Accident Cases in Orange County, California
Many train accidents occur between trains and motor vehicles in places where highways and railways cross. In fact, there were over 2,000 train accidents at railway-highway crossings in 2015 alone. In some cases, a train derails from the tracks due to aging infrastructure, mechanical error or conductor negligence. In other cases, pedestrians or bystanders are injured or killed because they were either on or too close to the tracks of a moving train.
In all of these instances, injured victims are entitled to compensation from the responsible parties. Train accidents often have multiple causes, and there can be several different people or companies to blame. There can also be a mixture of federal and state laws at issue in train accident lawsuits.
Collisions Between Trains and Motor Vehicles
These cases often involve an evaluation of exactly what the train and the motor vehicle were doing prior to the accident. California follows a comparative negligence standard, meaning that there can be more than one party who is considered to be “at fault” in any given accident. Therefore, these cases are all about determining how much fault to attribute to each party.
Equipment Malfunctions and Derailments
These cases are often the most complex because determining fault can be a daunting task. Depending on the facts, blame could fall on the conductor, some other railroad employee, the railroad company, the manufacturer of the train or rails, the company charged with maintaining the railways (which may or may not be the same as the railroad company) or some other party that interfered with the train’s operation. To make matters even more complicated, there are different theories of legal liability that can be raised, depending on which parties are sued.
Railroad Employees and the Federal Employers' Liability Act
Railroad employees who work for a railroad that travels through more than one state have special rights under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA). This law provides compensation to workers who are injured during the course and scope of their employment. Pursuant to FELA, railroads must adhere to certain safety standards, properly train employees and take reasonable measures to protect employees from hazardous conditions. This law also abolished the traditional tort defenses of contributory negligence, assumption of risk and the fellow-servant doctrine for cases involving injured railroad workers.
To establish a FELA claim, the injured worker must show that the railroad was negligent in creating an unsafe condition for workers and that this negligence caused the worker's injury. Generally, if a railroad has violated established safety rules or failed to follow industry customs, the element of negligence can be shown. However, it is possible that a railroad could be negligent even while following the rules and customs of the industry.
The element of causation is fulfilled as long as the negligence of the railroad played some part in causing the harm to the injured worker. The negligence need not be the only cause or even the primary cause of the accident. For instance, if a railroad failed to properly train an employee, the railroad can be liable under FELA for a resulting accident even though the accident itself may have had numerous other causes, as long as the improper training was at least partially to blame for the accident.
Victims Need Experienced Legal Counsel for These Complicated Cases
Train accident cases can be complicated. They often involve elements of several different types of accidents, as discussed above. Those injured in a train accident should have a qualified train accident attorney evaluate their case.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a train accident, an experienced attorney can help you understand your rights. At the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes, I have experience representing clients in personal injury lawsuits. I am dedicated to getting optimal results for my clients and would be happy to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes at 714-423-6928 to schedule your free consultation.