Train Derailment Accidents

A train derailment is an occurrence in which a train runs off the rails. While many derailments are minor, they cause a disruption of proper operation of the railway system and can pose a threat to human health and safety. Continue reading this blog to learn more about the causes of train derailment accidents and if you qualify for a FELA lawsuit and FELA lawsuit loans.

Train Derailment Statistics

Train derailments are not a common topic of discussion. However, many derailments have resulted in tragic injury and/ or fatality for various types of railroad workers.

According to the Analysis of Freight Train Accident Statistics for 1972-74, freight trains belonging to Class I line-haul railroads were involved in 17,153 accidents during those years. Of these accidents, 83.8% were classified as a derailment.

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics article on railroad-related work injuries goes on to show that transportation accidents made up seven-eighths of railroad worker fatalities during 1993-2002. Derailments accounted for 97 collisions during this time (or 10% of all transportation accidents). In addition, this article shows that more than two-thirds of locomotive operator fatalities resulted from onboard accidents such as collisions and train derailments. It is important to note that locomotive operators are rarely injured as a result if being struck by a railroad vehicle. Derailments make up their main cause of injury and fatality.

These statistics show the hazardous nature of train derailments, and the fatal threat they pose to railroad workers.

Causes of Train Derailment

  • Mechanical failure
    • Broken rails – These are due to a piece falling out or becoming lodged in an incorrect location.
    • Sleeper tie failure
  • Mechanical failure of a running gear component
    • Axlebox failure
    • Wheel breakage – A common cause of this is deficient lubrication, leaf spring failure or metallurgical crack propagation.
  • Quasi-static failure
    • Excessive wear of wheels or rails – Hot weather can cause the rail steel to expand, making it insufficient to guide the wheels.
    • Earthworks slip
  • Extreme interaction between track and vehicle
    • Vertical bounce
    • Track shift under train
    • Speeding
  • Signal errors
    • Improper operation of points – Accidents occur when staff forget which points to designate for which route, or when they overlook conflicting routes.
    • Improper observance of signals – A driver may wrongly think they are cleared to pass over trap points, resulting in derailment.
  • As the result of a collision with other trains, road vehicles, or other obstructions
    • level crossing collisions
    • obstructions on the rail
  • Train handling
    • Sudden traction or braking forces

FELA Train Derailment Lawsuits

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (known as FELA) protects railroad workers suffering from injuries on the job. In order to obtain compensation, a railroad worker must show that the railroad’s negligent behavior ultimately led to their injury.

Negligent acts on the part of the railroad include unsafe conditions, equipment or environment. In the case of train derailment, these foreseeable negligent acts include signal error, lack of maintenance and mechanical error.

Uplift Legal Funding

Uplift Legal Funding provides financial support for railroad workers nationwide with FELA lawsuit loans. With this necessary financial assistance, railroad worker plaintiffs can withstand a lengthy trial against the railroad in order to reach a fair settlement. Learn more and apply today by calling us at (800) 385-3660 or visiting our website.