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New York Train Accident Lawyers

RR crossing freight trainEdelman, Krasin & Jaye specializes in train derailment lawsuits involving Amtrak and rail lines in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester County, as well as New York City.

The average weekday train ridership in NYC is 5.6 million people. These commuters place their trust in the train conductors, owners and municipal officials, assuming that every precaution has been taken to ensure their safe transit. Horrific train derailments are hard to stomach when you rely on mass transit to get to and from work each day. No one likes feeling as though they have no control over what happens to them in the event of a crash.

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have spoken with passengers who were hurled across cars, crushed by crumpling portions of the train, burned, and maimed in other ways when the trains they were riding suddenly went off the rails. Our New York personal injury attorneys have experience investigating these complex cases to determine which parties were at fault and pursue the legal claims that are most likely to win a settlement or jury award in court.

Recent train derailment accidents

Though train derailments are relatively rare, considering how many people safely travel by rail each day, the stories are almost always sensational and shocking when these tragic incidents occur. Take, for instance, a few of the recent headlines:

  • December 1, 2013: Four people were killed and 70 seriously injured when a Metro-North conductor fell asleep at the switch, allowing the train to take a 30 mph curve at 82 and causing derailment in Spuyten Duyvil. The National Transit Safety Board determined that the driver’s undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea was “exacerbated by a recent circadian rhythm shift required by his work schedule.” A retired NYPD cop filed a lawsuit requesting $10 million to cover head, neck and back injuries sustained in the crash. An off-duty Metro-North employee is asking for $100 million in his lawsuit after a spinal cord injury caused loss of use in all his limbs. All told, more than 36 claims were filed against the railroad company for everything ranging from broken bones to permanently disabling traumatic injuries.
  • May 13, 2015: A Pennsylvania Amtrak train bound for NYC was traveling 106 mph on a 50 mph curve, when it careened off the tracks, killing eight people and injuring 200. While the exact circumstances of the crash are still under investigation, attorneys say the rail line appears to be negligent for failing to install safety equipment that would have prevented the crash. It is also possible that criminal charges will be filed against the “memory-impaired engineer” who says he can’t recall what happened moments before the crash if it is determined he was somehow responsible for the train’s acceleration just before the accident. So far, several Amtrak survivors have filed lawsuits, including a healthcare professional from Spain, now retired, who almost lost his arm and a Brooklyn ad exec who sustained lost teeth, broken ribs and damaged ligaments.
  • February 4, 2015: The Metro-North derailment near Valhalla marks the deadliest NY rail accident since 1982. The driver of an SUV stuck on the tracks and six passengers were killed, in addition to 15 passengers injured – including one critical and one serious. Survivors were treated for smoke inhalation, lacerations, bruises, burns, fractures and crush injuries at Westchester County Medical Center. The family of SUV driver Ellen Brody is suing the railroad and a state entities for a crossing they said was so dangerous, it should have been closed years ago. Investigators are looking into precisely how rush hour traffic, poor detours, inadequate crossings may have contributed to the crash. Furthermore, the Federal Railroad Administration has identified major safety concerns with Metro-North, which they summarized as: “An overemphasis on time performance; an ineffective safety department and poor safety culture; and an ineffective training program.”

Compensation and liability in a train derailment accident

Railroad accidents are some of the most difficult to investigate and prosecute, but also tend to pay out some of the highest settlements and awards when they are pursued by experienced attorneys. It is not uncommon to hear about victims receiving $4 to $30 million in these cases.

Often, a jury will assign multiple sources of liability for a particular accident:

  • State and local municipalities: They may determine that a local municipality was partly responsible if a railroad crossing was poorly maintained, malfunctioning, and/or had a blocked view that was not cleared. Sometimes traffic snarls or detours could have been prevented by municipal safety officials.
  • Railroad companies and train engineers: The companies that own the cars and the lines have a responsibility to adequately train and staff their transit system with employees who are able to operate the trains as safely as possible. There is no excuse for engineers who use illicit substances, fall asleep, use their mobile devices, or engage in otherwise reckless behavior while operating the train. The latest safety technology should be installed on the trains, as it becomes readily available. In some cases, a negligent train driver can be sued independently.
  • Negligent motorists and employers: If a driver tries to blow through a signal and gets stuck on the tracks, he or she may be sued by injured train passengers. Employers can also be sued if the driver happens to be operating a tractor-trailer or other type of work vehicle, and if the driver has a history of traffic infractions that were not reprimanded by the company.
  • Freight owners and railcar manufacturers: If the train’s freight or safety defects in the railcars themselves contribute to a derailment, these entities may be sued for damages – especially if a poor safety record is uncovered, hinting at a pattern of preventable incidents or maintenance issues leading up to the crash.
  • Negligent motorists and employers: Amtrak won a $4.5 million lawsuit against the estate of deceased truck driver Larry Valli and the company that employed him. According to the lawsuit, Valli was driving a tractor-trailer with bad brakes and had a history of speeding tickets, which contributed to the collision with Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have a history of working with local transit authorities to get answers for our plaintiffs. If you or someone you love has been seriously hurt in a NY-area train derailment, do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation.

NY & Long Island train derailment attorneys

Our experienced New York train derailment lawyers have first-hand experience litigating cases of serious injury and wrongful death. We have been fighting for tougher safety standards on NY State and Nassau & Suffolk County railway lines since 1952.

A good train accident lawyer offers you honest, direct legal counsel and represents your best interests before a long list of formidable foes who are all eager to deny responsibility for what has happened. We’ll help you bolster the legal merits of your case, determine the degree of liability for each party involved, root out the maximum compensation allowable by law, and fight on your behalf. We will not accept an early settlement unless your personal losses and medical expenses are rightfully compensated.

Call The Law Firm of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye at 1-800-469-7429 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to set up a confidential and free legal consultation.

  1. MTA – Facts and figures, http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ffsubway.htm
  2. Reuters - Investigators gather recording devices at New York train crash site, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/04/us-usa-newyork-train-idUSKBN0L801U20150204
  3. Philadelphia Inquirer – Lawyers clamoring to represent those injured in Amtrak derailment, http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150527_Lawyers_clamoring_to_represent_those_injured_in_Amtrak_derailment.html
  4. Fox News - Prosecutors consider charges in Amtrak crash but would have to show it's not just an accident, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/05/21/prosecutors-consider-charges-in-amtrak-crash-but-would-have-to-show-it-not-just/
  5. NY Daily News - Family of SUV driver killed in Metro-North train crash plans to file lawsuit, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/family-woman-killed-metro-north-crash-plans-sue-article-1.2210068
  6. DNA Info - Metro-North conductor's sleep apnea led to fatal derailment, NTSB confirms, http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141028/spuyten-duyvil/metro-north-conductors-sleep-apnea-led-fatal-derailment-ntsb-confirms
  7. NY Daily News - First two lawsuits filed over derailment of Metro-North train in the Bronx, including one demanding $100 million in compensation, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/nypd-vet-sues-metro-north-10-million-year-bronx-train-derailment-article-1.1749443