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Understanding the options available to train accident victims

Train accidents can cause significant devastation in the lives of victims and their families. Accidents associated with railroad crossings are oftentimes catastrophic and can lead to serious injuries and fatalities. It is important for victims of train accidents and their families to be familiar with the protections available to them when they have been harmed in a train accident.

At the end of 2009, there were 136,041 public at-grade crossings in the United States. Of those crossings, an estimated 42,301 had gates; 22,039 had flashing lights; and 1,196 had highway traffic signals, wigwags and bells. During 2009, there were a total of 1,896 accidents at public highway rail crossings. The railroad accidents resulted in a total of 705 injuries and a total of 247 deaths. Train accidents can occur in a number of situations, including at unguarded railroad crossings.

Train accident victims and their families may suffer significant damages in the wake of a train accident. Injured victims may endure the difficulties associated with painful injuries and family members of victims killed in a train accident may suffer emotional challenges associated with unexpectedly losing a loved one. Certain legal options are available to injured victims and their loved ones to help them recover damages for their physical, financial and emotional losses.

Injured victims may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering damages. Additional damages may be available if the injured victim is so severely injured that they have suffered disability, lost-earning capacity and require future medical care and treatment. Surviving family members of a lost loved one killed in a train accident may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering in addition to damages for the loss of support and services and other damages depending on the circumstances. Though each circumstance is unique and different, legal options are available to assist victims of train accidents and their families following the devastation of a train accident.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, "Safety," Accessed June 14, 2016

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