Recovering Compensation After a Derailing or Collision
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is an expansive light rail network of trains that provides invaluable public transportation options across Colorado, including light rail systems between major cities like Boulder and Denver. In addition to these public trains, the state of Colorado also hosts several freight train companies that transport everything from coal to lumber to paper. These complicated routes require keen attention to detail and consistent communication between multiple parties—otherwise, a serious accident can occur involving a light rail or freight train.
When train accidents occur, multiple individuals can be injured or killed all due to a single act of negligence. If you or a loved one have been injured in a railway accident, contact a Denver train accident attorney as soon as possible. Train accidents are complicated events and require thorough investigations. To determine if you are eligible for a claim, contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 502-5587.
Types of Train Accidents
While train accidents are relatively rare when compared to car accidents, these tragic events can impact multiple individuals and their families. The United States has been utilizing railway networks for over a century, so one would expect it to be extremely safe and efficient. However, negligence can still occur, and common causes of railway accidents include:
- Track defects resulting from improper maintenance
- Equipment failure
- Signal, switch, or railroad crossing malfunction
- Lack of crossing protections or warnings
- Obstacles on tracks, such as cars or trucks
- Train conductor distraction
- Engineering errors
Because of how extensive railways are in Colorado—and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) only plans to expand them further—these errors can lead to catastrophic accidents, including:
- Collisions with other trains
- Collisions with motor vehicles
- Collisions with cyclists or pedestrians
However, not all train accidents are directly related to the railway company. There are instances where car and truck drivers can cause an accident, either by becoming stuck at a railway crossing, damaging signals, or colliding with the train itself.
The Tragic Results of Negligence
Injuries suffered in train accidents are often catastrophic or fatal. There are risks involved with both railroads used for commercial transportation and light rail trains around Denver. More people are at risk at train crossings as the light rail expands throughout the greater metro area. Crossings can be particularly hazardous for people who are unfamiliar with the area. Pedestrians may be struck by trains, and, as mentioned earlier, collisions can occur between trains and automobiles. In the worst-case scenario where the train derails, numerous individuals can be catastrophically injured or killed.
Who Is Responsible for the Accident?
Liability for a train wreck or light rail accident will depend on the circumstances. Railroad companies have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their passengers, employees, and others. This duty includes ensuring that conditions are safe, all equipment is functioning correctly and is well maintained, and employees are competent and adequately trained. If your accident occurred due to a railroad company’s negligence, the company might be liable for your injuries.
However, not all blame lies with the railroad company. Motor vehicle drivers can also contribute to an accident, either by speeding through a crossing or becoming stuck on the tracks. If a truck is traveling at a high enough speed, it can collide with a train and cause a derailment. Or, if the vehicle is on the tracks and a train collides with it, passengers can be severely injured, and the train still has the potential to derail. In these instances, liability may follow with the motor vehicle driver, not the train company.
Filing a Claim After a Train Crash
A thorough investigation is conducted after any type of train accident to determine liability by personnel from the CDOT, along with field personnel dispatched to the scene of serious train accidents by the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). But these investigations can take months to years, which is why it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one were injured in a train accident. Your attorney will need time to pursue their own investigation, determine what type of claim you can file, and calculate the amount of compensation you can receive.
What type of claim you can file will vary depending on who is at fault. If your accident was the fault of a public train company, such as a light rail train operated by the RTD or Amtrak, then you would need to file a government tort claim. These claims are far more restrictive than standard personal injury claims since you are capped at the amount of compensation you can receive and only have 180 days to file a claim after an accident, rather than the standard two years. Speaking to an attorney as early as possible can be key to ensuring you do not miss the deadline to file for compensation.
However, not all trains in Colorado are run by the government. There are more than a dozen major freight companies that transport equipment and material across Colorado, including Union Pacific and BNSF. If your accident involved a negligent freight train company, then you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages. Compensation in a personal injury claim is not capped for economic damages in Colorado, meaning you can file up to the train company’s insurance policy limit for any medical expenses you have suffered due to the accident. You may be capped as far as non-economic damages go, such as pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of consortium, which is limited at either $468,010 or $936,030 depending on the nature of the accident.
Comprehensive Representation for Colorado Residents
Train accidents are complicated affairs that require thorough investigations and rigorous litigation to secure proper compensation. To move forward with a claim, either against the RTD, Amtrak, or a major freight company, you need an attorney with a history of success and extensive experience. At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our lead attorney has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of his clients and is not afraid to contend with major train companies. But our firm’s services are not only about compensation. We also provide consistent communication with our clients, assistance with finding skilled medical providers, and compassionate legal advice throughout the entire process.
If you or a loved one were injured in a train accident, contact a Denver personal injury attorney to ensure your rights to compensation are protected. We offer each potential client a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no cost to working with us unless we win your case. Reach out to us at (303) 502-5587 to discuss your options.