Omaha Train Accident Attorney
While Nebraska cities and towns do not have thriving subway networks like other U.S. cities, we are constantly surrounded by trains. Several train networks, both public and private, operate daily throughout our state and provide necessary transportation services for people and cargo. From the scenic Amtrak Zephyr, which connects us to Chicago and San Francisco, to the historic Union Pacific, there are a handful of major railway routes that crisscross our state. Unfortunately, this convenience can come at a cost and lead to catastrophic and often fatal train accidents.
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If you or someone you loved was injured in a train accident, it is important to reach out to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. The damage caused by train accidents, whether it involved a derailment or a collision with a vehicle, can be catastrophic and often life-changing. You will need an experienced Omaha train accident attorney to determine who was at fault and learn how you can receive compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our legal team can provide just that. To learn about your options after a train accident, contact us at (402) 505-8234 and schedule a free consultation.
Several train services run throughout Nebraska. Amtrak operates the California Zephyr, a National Network train running daily from Chicago to Omaha, Lincoln, Denver, Salt Lake City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Amtrak is an extension of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), making it a public network that has strict oversight from the federal government.
But alongside these public routes, Nebraska is also home to major private railway companies that transport cargo all across the country. These railway companies include:
- Union Pacific
- Burlington Northern Santa Fe
- Chicago Central & Pacific
- Fremont & Elkhorn Valley
- Big Red Line
- Nebraska Central Railroad Company
On its own, the Nebraska Central Railroad Company hosts a 340-mile network that handles more than 250 trains and provides a variety of rail transportation services. These private networks are also stringently overseen by federal and state agencies in order to ensure all safety procedures are followed. However, errors do slip through the cracks and can lead to horrific train accidents.
Because of how powerful and large locomotives are, their accidents are often far-reaching. Not only can passengers be injured during collisions and anyone in the path of a train is likely to not survive, there is also a risk to Nebraska farmers and homes. Some trains transport hazardous materials which can easily leak into groundwater during a derailment, causing widespread environmental damage. At the end of the day, train accidents are some of the worst events that can occur.
The most common types of train accidents are:
- Collisions with trains, including slanting, rear-end, and head-on train crashes
- Trains striking objects on the tracks, including buffer stops
- Train derailments at junctions, curves, and on straight tracks
- Cars colliding with trains
- Trains colliding with other vehicles
- Pedestrians and cyclists being hit by moving trains
All of these events can injure anyone caught in the path of the train, but passengers also might be injured during a collision due to falling luggage or falls within the train car. In each situation, it is important to determine how the accident was caused, as it will be the basis of your claim.
Trains are complicated machines, as are their routes. Multiple hands oversee a single train’s operations, from engineers to conductors to repairmen to government officials. This is done to ensure that trains operate efficiently and safely, but it also means that if one person acts negligently, a serious accident can occur.
When investigating a train accident, it may be discovered that the cause was due to:
- Human error: Conductors and engineers must be well-trained and experienced to ensure they operate a train appropriately. If they become distracted, abuse alcohol or drugs, or ignore safety protocols, it can lead to devastating accidents. Common forms of train conductor negligence include switching tracks improperly, leaving cars in unsafe positions, handling turns at unsafe speeds, and failing to brake at a stop or curve.
- Equipment failure: Because of how complex trains are, they require constant maintenance and repair to operate at peak conditions. It is possible that when old parts are replaced, the new ones were defective. In addition, some trains may not receive proper repairs in time to stop a serious mechanical malfunction. Types of issues caused by faulty parts include malfunctioning brakes, damaged warning lights, gates that fail to open properly, broken handrails on rail cars, faulty hand brakes, defective communication equipment, and broken rails. These issues can not only affect trains but also railroad crossings, where barriers and warning lights fail to keep pedestrians or drivers off the tracks.
- Improper cargo loading: While trains can transport thousands upon thousands of pounds of cargo, they do have limits. If a train car is overloaded or has shifting cargo, it can become imbalanced, leading to a derailment at a sharp turn.
- Obstacles on rail tracks: It is possible for a piece of debris, vehicle, or even fallen cargo to become stuck on the tracks. If a train collides with an object at high speeds, it can cause serious injuries to passengers even if the train does not derail.
- Other vehicles: Other vehicle drivers can almost make major errors. Operators of large vehicles like buses or trucks must come to complete stops at railway crossings in order to give them as much time as possible to cross safely. However, if a driver is distracted or driving recklessly, they may speed through a crossing and collide with a train.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to hold several different groups liable for your injuries. If a car or truck collided with the train you were on, then your claim would be against the driver. However, if you were traveling on the Amtrak Zephyr and a conductor acted negligently, you would need to file a government tort claim against Amtrak since it is a government agency. These cases are often more complex than auto accident claims, so you will need legal guidance to secure compensation. Lastly, if you or your loved one was in a vehicle that was struck by a private locomotive, then you could file a personal injury claim against the train company.
Determining the cause of a train accident can take months of investigation and often require a keen eye for details. Immediately after a wreck, the federal government will get involved to thoroughly review everything about the accident, from the train’s maintenance reports to cargo logs to worker backgrounds. Not only that, but the railroad company itself will also review the accident to minimize the amount of fault placed upon it and protect its own interests. That is why you must have your own attorney investigating the train wreck to determine liability and preserve evidence to support your claim.
A train accident investigation can take months and requires a diligent review of every detail to determine who committed negligence. Throughout that period, you will want to have an attorney representing your best interests. A train company will immediately contact their attorneys after an accident to defend their profit margins, and there is no reason you should not contact an attorney as well.
If you or a loved one was injured in a train accident, look no further than Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Our founding Omaha personal injury attorney has worked on both sides of the claims process and knows how to launch an in-depth investigation. Our legal team can provide consistent guidance throughout the entire process and effectively negotiate with the train company and their insurance provider on your behalf. Call us today at (402) 505-8234 to get the best legal aid in Nebraska.
- Railroads - US Department of Transportation
- Federal Railroad Administration
- Rail - Nebraska Department of Transportation
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