Train and Railroad accidents

Some of the most catastrophic car, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents involve trains and railroads. Even a slow-moving train, because of its size, can cause devastating injuries and often death if it collides with an occupied vehicle or a person. A train derailment can cause significant injuries to and even kill passengers on the train.

The law requires train and railroad workers to follow a professionally recognized standard of care. Both train and railroad employers and their employees can be held civilly liable for money damages if the employee fails to conform to the professional standard and someone is injured or killed as a result. Please review the following information to learn more about some of the causes for train or railroad accidents:

Lack Of Proper Training:  Train operators should not be running a train without proper training. Railway companies should ensure that there employees receive that proper training. Either can be liable for negligence if an improperly trained train operator causes an accident that injures or kills people.

Use Of Drugs Or Alcohol:  Operating any machinery or vehicles while intoxicated is dangerous under any circumstances. The danger is magnified when the intoxicated operator is in charge of a huge train. Train operators that operate their trains under the influence of drugs or alcohol are putting the lives and safety of everyone that they are transporting and that they encounter at risk.

Exhausted Train Operators:  Federal regulations and rules require that train operators receive sufficient rest to operate their trains safely and in a manner that doesn't endanger passengers and people that may encounter the train during its travels. Recognized causes of train operator fatigue include illness and health conditions, a trip that is long in distance or duration, self-behavior by the train operator that leads to exhaustion, and inadequate time for rest.

Train Maintenance Issues:  All the care in the world by train operators won't make a bit of difference if the train itself is not safe to be on the tracks. Like any motor vehicles, trains require regular and proper maintenance to be safe. The failure to properly maintain something as large and dangerous as a train can have catastrophic consequences if the unsafe train causes a trucking accident. Common safety issues with trains concern car couplings or links, horns, warnings and operating lights, and brakes.

Railroad Crossing Violations:  The areas where roads intersect railroad tracks are places of extreme danger, especially when the railway does not have proper warnings signs or lights at the railway crossing to help prevent motorists and pedestrians from crossing into the path of an oncoming train. Warnings at and near a railway crossing are meant not only to warn people that a train is approaching, but also that there is a railway crossing immediately ahead. The requirements for railway crossing warnings vary depending upon the circumstances.  We invite you to learn more about the responsibility of railways for railroad crossing warnings by reviewing the following post from our blog:  Thomas The Tank Engine Meets A Car — Liability For Railroad Crossing Collisions

Unqualified Employees:  There are various training and certification requirements for train operators. Train operators and the railway companies that employ them can be liable for negligence if a lack of proper training or certification causes an accident. Operating a train  is a complex exercise that requires paying great attention to details such as the surroundings, speed, switching tracks, braking and acceleration, weather, track conditions, and understanding and complying with signal lights.

What Are My Rights To Monetary Compensation?

Iowa law provides strong remedies if you or a loved one is injured or killed in a train accident. You may be able to recover money damages for, among other things, past and future medical expenses, past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, and past and future disability or loss of function of the body. If the accident caused a death, an additional series of money damages for wrongful death may also be applicable. We invite you to take a moment to browse additional information about money damages that we've provided on our Personal Injury And Wrongful Death page.

There are several different types of potential defendants in a train accident case. Along with the train operator, in appropriate cases you may also seek monetary compensation from the railway company or employer, the manufacturer of any defective train or track equipment that caused or contributed to the train accident, the people responsible for improper or unsafe maintenance or repairs (or the complete lack thereof), and any business entities affiliated with the railway or employer, such as franchises or parent companies.

Your attorney is waiting.

We make every effort to provide a same-day response to all communications received during weekday business hours. Initial telephone calls are always free. If it looks like we can help, it'll be our pleasure to meet with you, learn more about your situation, and lend you a hand. We handle as many of our cases as possible on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there's no fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.


Erbe Law Firm 
2501 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
(515) 281-1460

Erbe Law Firm has proudly served clients throughout Iowa since 2005 from our Des Moines law firm. We look forward to hearing from you to see whether we can do the same for you.

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