At some point in your lifetime, you may have ridden on a train. This mode of transportation is not as outdated as some would think. In fact, many Americans use our country’s train system to travel for work or leisure. Moreover, this method of transportation is quite common for moving cargo - including livestock. There are approximately 600 railroads in the United States with over 200,000 railroad crossings and hundreds of thousands of miles of railroad track.
While Nevada may be one of the more rural states in the nation, with many of the state’s towns being isolated, it does offer a key link in the Union Pacific’s massive railroad system. Passenger trains - namely, under the Amtrak banner - pass through parts of Nevada including Elko, Winnemucca, Sparks, and Reno. In fact, there are about 1,200 miles of rails that are currently active and being used in the state of Nevada. Unfortunately, just like any other mode of transportation, there is a risk of train accidents.
Common Causes of Train Accidents
News outlets across the nation have reported on train accidents in America, with many of these incidents ending in tragedy. There are several reasons why train accidents happen - many of which commonly take place at railroad crossings when passenger vehicles try to beat an oncoming train. The common causes of train accidents include, but are not limited to:
Distracted drivers or pedestrians;
Issues with the track;
Collisions with other trains and passenger cars;
Accidents at unprotected railroad crossings;
Vehicles that are stalled on the train tracks.
When a train accident happens in the U.S., the details of the crash must be thoroughly investigated and analyzed in order to determine the cause - in essence, who is at fault and financially liable for damages. By way of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, the Federal Railroad Administration has the authority and is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing and promoting railway safety regulations in the U.S.
Trains are Common Carriers
Railroad companies as well as commuter trains have a legal duty to maintain the highest level of safety for all passengers because they are considered common carriers. Simply put, they serve the public at large by transporting people or goods. Other examples of common carriers include airlines and public buses. Railroad companies are required by law to install black boxes - similar to the ones installed in all airplanes - which are devices that record information and is necessary when reviewing what happened just before an accident. Likewise, the train operator must use the utmost care and diligence when operating the train to prevent injuries to passengers. Train operations have a long-standing history of disciplined procedures and processes for ensuring passenger safety including regular inspection of the train and tracks, among other preventative measures. Accordingly, courts across the nation - including Nevada - have interpreted this to mean that even the slightest lapse in care can make a common carrier legally responsible for injuries that arise a result of that negligence.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a Nevada train accident, contact the experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau today.
(image courtesy of Samuel Fyfe)