New Jersey Train Accident Lawyers
Like many densely populated eastern states, New Jersey depends heavily on mass transportation options, including bus and rail. Commuters, schoolchildren, and day-tripping seniors all readily rely on various public and privately owned bus and train lines. For the most part, these modes of transportation are very safe, but a single act of negligence can easily cause widespread damage, multiple severe injuries, and the loss of several lives. At Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers, our injury lawyers are passionate about providing determined representation for victims of train and bus accidents. Most importantly, we want to see that you are properly compensated for all your losses: medical bills, lost income, and your pain and suffering. But we also want to hold these large companies and public entities accountable for negligent acts and unsafe conditions that put everyone at risk. By fighting tirelessly for you, Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers not only help you overcome your injuries and get your life back on track, but we also force improvements in transit protocols that make for a safer New Jersey.
Do I Need A Train Accident Lawyer?
When a person has been injured in a train accident, they are likely to be contacted by an insurance company soon after the accident. You need to remember that the negligent party’s insurance company is never on your side. All insurers are only interested in protecting their bottom lines, which involves settling claims for as little as possible.
A lawyer will be able to conduct an independent investigation into your train accident and get important answers relating to its cause. They will also be able to collect important evidence and determine every single liable party.
An insurance company might offer you a single lump sum settlement to resolve your case, but you need to know that an attorney can negotiate a truly fair and full settlement that actually covers all of your long-term needs. When a case cannot be settled, an attorney will file a lawsuit to take your case to trial.
Why Choose Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers To Handle My Train Accident Case?
Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers has recovered more than $227 million for our clients. The New Jersey Law Journal ranked us as a Top 40 Law Firm.
Edward P. Capozzi secured at least one – and sometimes as many as three – of the state’s top 20 verdicts or settlements every single year from 2012 until 2018. He received the President’s Award from the New Jersey Association for Justice in 2015, and the Personal Injury Hall of Fame Award from the New Jersey Law Journal in 2014.
Keith J. Roberts maintains membership in the Bergen County Bar Association, the New Jersey chapter of the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Health and Hospital Law Section of the New Jersey Bar Association. He is one of a select few attorneys to serve on the New Jersey Insurance Commissioner’s Technical Advisory Committee on PIP (PIPTAC).
Charles X. Gormally has been licensed in New Jersey since 1979, and in New York since 1990. In 2011 and 2012, he proudly served as the mayor of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.
Causes of rail accidents in New Jersey
Bus and rail lines are very different, but there are commonalities, especially when it comes to the causes of accidents. For both modes of transportation, the leading causes of accidents include:
- Equipment failure
- Operator error
- Operator inattention or distraction
- Operator impairment due to fatigue, alcohol, or drug use
- Excess speed
- Brake failure
- Mishandling of the engine
- Driver error
- Fog or snow
- Failure to check brakes and safety systems
- Passengers falling off trains
- Failure to stop at required positions
- Release of hazardous materials
- Bridge and tunnel collapses
- Signalmen’s errors
- Improperly secured freight
- Incorrect operation of signals or equipment
- Track obstructions
- Poor design
- Overloaded freight
- Poor maintenance
- Dangerous conditions at stations
When equipment fails, the party at fault is generally the manufacturer or the maintenance company. When a bus driver or train operator makes a mistake, the company is generally liable under the legal theory of respondeat superior, a Latin phrase that means “Let the master answer (for the servant).” Determining the cause of a bus or rail accident is of paramount importance to your case. We consult skilled experts who can examine physical evidence to pinpoint the cause.
Common injuries in rail accidents
Bus and train passengers are subject to the same range of injuries as victims of automobile accidents, but with an important difference. Motor vehicle passengers are more often wearing restraints when an accident occurs. Many buses and trains are not even equipped with seat belts, so riders can be thrown violently. Passengers are fortunate when they escape with minor bumps and sprains, because the results can be very serious:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Strained and torn muscles and ligaments
- Wrongful death
If you are injured in a bus or train accident, make sure you get medical treatment immediately. This is for your safety, because seemingly inconsequential injuries can worsen very quickly, and because it strengthens your legal case by creating a contemporaneous record of your injuries.
Bus and rail lines serving the Garden State
Most passenger rail lines have some connection to local, state, or federal government. The major passenger rail services in New Jersey are:
- NJ Transit — This state-owned public transportation system controls major commuter train and bus routes throughout the state.
- Amtrak — New Jersey is an important stretch of the Northeast Corridor for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, a quasi-public corporation that receives a combination of state and federal subsidies, but is managed as a for-profit organization.
- PATH — Port Authority Trans Hudson is the rail line linking stops in Newark, Harrison, Jersey City and Hoboken with New York City. PATH is operated by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which itself is a joint venture between the United States and the states of New Jersey and New York.
- SEPTA — The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is a state-created authority that runs trains into Trenton. SEPTA also operates light rail and buses.
- PATCO — This rapid transit system is operated by the Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden County, New Jersey.
- NJ River Line — This diesel tram-train light rail system operated for New Jersey Transit by the Southern New Jersey Rail Group (SNJRG), connects Camden and Trenton. The rail lines are shared with Conrail which transports freight during off hours.
- Hudson-Bergen Light Rail — Owned by New Jersey Transit and operated by the 21st Century Rail Corporation, this light rail line connects communities in Hudson County from Bayonne to North Bergen.
Rules for suing New Jersey Transit for a train accident
If you are going to bring a cause of action against a train line, you have to understand its ownership structure to know the rules for suing. If you are hurt in an Amtrak crash, you might think you have to follow special rules for suing the federal government. But, as mentioned above, even though Amtrak gets federal money, it is a private entity. You can proceed as you would against any private defendant.
If you have any questions about your rights following a bus or train accident, our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to present sound advice and counsel.
What should I do if I am involved in a train accident?
Your first step after any train accident should be to seek medical attention. Do this as soon as you are able to depart the train. Other valuable steps to take include:
- Take Pictures. Take as many photographs as you possibly can of your accident scene and everything involved in it.
- Seek Witnesses. Look for other people who saw the accident and get some kind of contact information from them.
- File a Report. Speak to the conductor or some other rail official to file a report about your accident and ask for a copy of the report.
Railroad workers injured on the job also need to report their accidents to their employers as soon as possible. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is the federal law that protects and compensates railroad workers injured on the job, and it requires injured railroad workers to prove a railroad was negligent in some way. Contact a lawyer before you speak to any insurance company.
Will I have a case if my train accident occurred at a location other than a designated railroad crossing?
Because rail companies have an obligation to make sure that places in which people may cross tracks can be done so safely, it is possible to have cases against railroad companies for claims relating to areas that are not formal crossings. A railroad company could still be liable for certain collisions with moving trains, or other accidents on these areas of railroad tracks.
Speak with an accomplished NJ train and bus accident lawyer
If you sustain an injury while riding a bus or train in New Jersey, the certified trial attorneys at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers are prepared to pursue the full compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled and aggressive attorney, call us today at 973-364-8300 or contact us online.