Representing clients across the country, injured or killed in railroad accidents.
Train Accident Lawyers
Legal Assistance for Serious Injury Victims
Bolt Law Firm offers expertise in handling railroad and train accident cases across the country. We represent victims and the families of those injured or killed in railroad accidents in over 30 jurisdictions, with a strong belief that focusing attention on public safety and engineering solutions to railroad dangers will not only help train accident victims and their families but make railroads safer for the general public and railroad workers.
Forcing railroads to improve safety or face consequences is a highly personal mission for our lead railroad attorney, Joe Sayler, as he lost a brother in a railroad accident.
A dedicated group of Bolt Law Firm attorneys exclusively handle railroad cases, unlike most law firms advertising this service. In fact, because of our extensive resources and highly specialized experience, many firms refer railroad cases to us.
Most railroad and train accidents, many of them catastrophic, could be prevented if railroads would implement basic safety systems and measures. Thousands of railroad accidents, injuries, and deaths occur every year. These accidents include pedestrian train accidents, railroad crossings accidents, railroad worker injuries under FELA, derailments, train passenger injuries, and many others.
Let our railroad accident lawyer help you hold these companies responsible for the preventable train accident that injured your loved one. Contact us online or call (763) 292-2102 for a free consultation.
Representing Clients Across the Country
Achieving recovery in a negligence claim against a railroad company requires a skilled attorney to secure the compensation you deserve.
Types of Train Accident Cases
- Amtrak & Train Passenger Injuries
- Cumulative Trauma & Repetitive Stress
- Occupational Disease & Toxic Exposure
- Pedestrian Train Accidents
- Railroad Fencing
- Railroad Property Damage Claims
- Railroad Worker Injuries
- Railyard Injuries
- Regional & Shortline Railroads
- Train Accident Case Referrals
- Train Crossing Accidents
- Train Derailments
- Whistleblower & FRSA Claims
Pedestrian-Train Accident Case FAQ
Q:What are common types of train accidents?
A:Based on information from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are nearly 6,000 train accidents each year that involve motorists and pedestrians. Most of these accidents involve vehicles that get hit by a train at a crossing point. Others involve pedestrians who are struck by a train at a station after wandering too close to the tracks. Derailments are devastating, but only a few dozen happen each year.
Q:Why do train accidents happen?
A:Train accidents can usually be traced back to some form of negligence or another. The question is which party acted negligently? In many crossing accidents that involve a train and a car, for example, the cross guard does not function properly, and the motorist does not know the train is approaching. In this situation, one or more railroad companies and local municipalities could be liable for not maintaining the cross guard correctly.
Q:What should I do if a loved one was killed or injured in a train accident?
A:If your loved one is too injured to handle a case on their own, or if they passed away from a train accident, then you should seek legal counsel on their behalf. Talk to our attorneys about what happened, and we can advise you about what to do next. In some cases, you might need the court’s permission to continue a case in their name, but we can help you with this step, too.
Q:How do I choose the right train accident lawyer?
A:Train accident cases are uniquely complicated due to the legal protections that often surround the defendants. When choosing a train accident attorney to manage your case, you should specifically ask your lawyer how much experience they have with this exact type of claim or lawsuit. An attorney who has not worked on a train accident case in any capacity before might not be prepared to handle your case.
Q:Where does your law firm handle train accident cases?
A:Bolt Law Firm is capable of accepting train accident cases and claims from across the nation. No matter where you live or where your accident happened, we can assist you.
Pedestrian & Passenger Train Accidents
The National Transportation Safety Bureau has reported that a person or vehicle is hit by a train every two hours in the United States. Since 1997, there have been more than 7,200 pedestrians killed and another 6,400 injured by trains in the U.S. Every year, about 500 people are killed. In Minnesota in 2018, most crashes involving a train and a motor vehicle happened in rural areas. Twenty-two of the 51 total crashes happened in townships in rural areas, as did the only two fatal crashes. Still, the chances are you will never be hit by a train. But what if you or someone you love is struck by a train — what would you do?
Minnesota has over 4,000 railroad crossings. Perhaps you cross one daily, or at least occasionally. Even if you drove blindfolded when crossing a railroad track, the “chances” of being hit by a train are still rare. However, on average, more people are killed every year in highway-rail crashes than in airline crashes.
While driving blindfolded is not one of the contributing factors to highway-rail collisions, some include:
- Driver error
- Faulty equipment
- Malfunctioning signal
- Poorly maintained tracks
- Failure to obey safety laws
All these contributing factors to highway-rail collision can be listed as a form of negligence. If the car driver fails to stop at a flashing red light at a train crossing, the driver is negligent. If the conductor is going too fast, the conductor is negligent. If the signals malfunction, someone is probably negligent, either with maintaining the equipment or its manufacture.
Ways to Stay Safe When Approaching & Crossing Railroad Tracks
You do not have to be negligent to be in a train accident. You may be in the right, but there is such a thing as being dead right. A person in a car is 20 times more likely to die in a collision with a train than with another car — whether they were negligent or not. The point is not to be right. It is to be vigilant, especially at railroad warning signs and signals.
Flashing red lights at railroad crossings indicate that either a train is on the tracks or is approaching, and you should stop. In Minnesota, you must stop at the flashing red light. If a train is visible, even if there is no flashing red light, you must stop and stay stopped until the train has passed. Trains always have the right-of-way.
Flashing red lights may also be accompanied by other types of warning devices, such as gates that should prevent traffic from crossing the tracks. You may see other motorists go around these gates, but it is illegal to go around crossing gates.
If you are traveling behind a school bus or commercial bus, be aware that they must stop at all railroad crossings, regardless of whether they are carrying passengers or not. Trucks carrying hazardous materials must stop at all gate crossings, too.
Finally, it is unlawful to be on the private property used in railroad operation. This includes the tracks, of course. But it also includes the property alongside the tracks and any buildings the railroad owns adjacent to the tracks. In 2011, six people in Minnesota were killed while trespassing on railroad right-of-way property.
It is considered trespassing to walk on or next to railroad tracks. Typically, the right-of-way owned by the railroad is 50 feet from the centerline of the tracks.
Some quick pointers to take away from these safety reminders are the following:
- Expect a train anytime, day or night
- Trains may be closer and faster than they appear
- Trains cannot stop quickly, and they cannot swerve out of your way
- If gates are down or lights are flashing, stop and wait
- Check both directions of the track before crossing
Additionally, if your car ever stalls on a railroad track, stay calm. If you were crossing when you were supposed to, a train is probably not coming.
To ensure your safety and that of any passengers, do the following:
- Evacuate the car
- Get away from the tracks
- Call the local police or 911
On the phone, be clear about the situation, that your car is stalled on the tracks of a railroad crossing and be as precise as you can be about the location.
Railroad Yard Injury $15.3 Million
Railroad Track Accident $8 Million
FELA Case $5.8 Million
Railway Brain Injury $1.2 Million
Train Accident $900 Thousand
Railroad Work Injury $800 Thousand
Train Derailment Accident $800 Thousand
Railroad Worker Safety Hazard $200 Thousand
Being Injured Because of Someone's Negligence
Whether a person is a pedestrian hit by a train or a driver or passenger in a car struck by a train, or a worker for the railroad, the injuries that the person suffers because of the incident are called personal injuries. Personal injuries may include any physical or mental injury suffered because of the incident, as well as pain and suffering.
Some personal injuries are:
After a Train Accident
If you are involved in a collision with a train, you will probably feel out of control, scared, and unsure about what to do next.
Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Seek medical attention: Even if you do not think you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. People in collisions are often in shock. This can prevent them from being aware of injury symptoms. Have a professional check you out. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Document what happened: If you can, take pictures with your phone. Record a narrative of what happened. If you do not have a recorder on your phone, take a video of the scene and talk about what happened while recording. If you are injured, take pictures of your injuries. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. If you do not have a phone that will take pictures or videos, and a witness does, ask them to take pictures for you. As a last resort, write down as much information as you can as soon as you can.
- Keep meticulous records: Record and save everything related to the collision — copies of medical records, bills, test results, visits to physical therapy sessions, days you missed work, and a travel log of miles to and from medical and therapy appointments.
- Keep a diary: As part of your recordkeeping, start a diary. Write down how you feel, pain you experience, what you can and cannot do, and even your emotional state. This is a good place to keep your mileage log of trips to medical appointments, etc.
- Contact a railroad accident attorney: A lawyer experienced in handling train collision cases will be best able to assess the details of the incident and determine potentially liable parties. Liable parties can include another car driver, train driver, train engineers, the manufacturer of the tracks or the warning systems, or the party responsible for maintaining railroad equipment.
FELA Injury Case FAQ
Q:What is the FELA?
A:FELA is the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which was originally enacted in 1906 and passed Congressional legislation in 1908. Although the name seems to apply to all federal employers, FELA specifically applies to railroad workers who are injured on the job. It provides legal protections and guarantees to railroad workers in acknowledgment that their work can be inherently dangerous.
Q:What damages and compensation can I receive under FELA?
A:Under FELA, injured railroad workers should be provided compensation that helps cover lost wages, reduced income earning capacity, medical treatment costs, and hardships and losses caused by permanent disabilities. Notably, FELA claims can also seek damages for physical pain, emotional trauma, and mental suffering, which is otherwise disallowed in workers’ compensation claims.
Q:What should I do if I am injured while working for a railroad?
A:You should treat a railroad injury case as you would any other work-related injury case. Begin by seeking immediate medical attention if required. Next, document the scene as much as you safely can. Then, inform your supervisor about the incident and fill out an accident report. Lastly, contact a train accident attorney shortly after reporting the accident and injury.
Q:Do I have to fill out an injury report? How soon if so?
A:Yes, your employment contract should state that you will submit an injury report after being hurt while working for the railroad or related company. Typically, the worker is required to submit a report “as soon as possible” or no later than 30 days after the incident, with some variance based on the employer’s expectations. Submitting an injury report the same day as your accident benefits all parties, including you, so do not delay in this step.
Q:What if the railroad wants to talk to my doctors?
A:Does the railroad want to talk to your doctor about your injury? FELA blocks the railroad or your employer from talking with your medical team without your consent. The railroad also cannot attempt to influence what medical treatments you receive. If the railroad is insistent about talking with your doctor, then you should talk with our attorneys right away.
Q:Do I need a lawyer?
A:You are not legally required to hire an attorney to assist you with your FELA or railroad injury case. But it is highly recommended that you do. FELA is extremely complex and intricate, even more so than other liability laws and federal regulations. You will likely significantly damage your case if you attempt to manage it alone and self-represent.
Q:How does your firm get paid for representing injured railroad workers?
A:Bolt Law Firm offers contingency fee agreements to personal injury and FELA injury clients. Under a contingency fee agreement, we agree to work on your case and represent you without any upfront attorney fees. We are only paid for our representation if your case ends in your favor, such as with a settlement or award. The amount we are paid will match an agreed-upon percentage of your winnings, Furthermore, we might be able to convince the court to order the opposition to pay our attorney fees, leaving even more of your recovery for you.
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Compensation for Injured Railroad Workers
When it comes to workers’ compensation, railroad workers fall under a unique class that isn’t covered by state guidelines. Rather, they are considered federal employees since construction, travel, and maintenance can span across several state lines. Railroad employees who are injured on the job are instead covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which was passed in 1908 to protect and compensate them. Therefore, it’s crucial that a railroad worker who is injured on the job retains the counsel of an experienced lawyer. The attorneys of Bolt Law Firm are union designated FELA attorneys.
Unlike workers’ compensation in other industries, FELA is fault-based. That is, to receive benefits, an injured railroad worker must prove the injury was at least partially caused by the negligence of a railroad employee. Negligence may be proven when the railroad fails to provide a safe environment to work in. But if it can be proven that the worker was partially at fault for the unsafe condition, the liability is proportioned between the worker and the company.
If, however, the railroad company violated federal law or regulation, the railroad company may be held to a standard of strict liability. Under strict liability, even if the worker was partially negligent, the railroad company is 100% at fault.