Trains and railway companies have a high duty of care to their passengers. Duty of care refers to the obligation of ensuring that no passengers suffer unreasonable harm. The following reviews duty of care, as well as the four elements of a personal injury claim that are essential for proving fault to recover damages in a train accident lawsuit.
Presence of Duty of Care
The primary element of a personal injury claim is that there was a presence of a duty of care. Trains and railway companies, as stated above, have a higher duty of care than does the average person. For example, some of the precautions that carriers must take to ensure that their passengers are protected from unreasonable harm include the following listed below.
- Proper lighting
- Safe and working exits
- Qualified engineers
- Proper and regular maintenance of trains
What’s more, it’s important to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration is responsible for compliance and enforcement through the Office of Railroad Safety. The office focuses on compliance and enforcement regarding hazardous materials, motive power and equipment, operating practices, signal and train control, and track.
Breach of Duty of Care
If a carrier fails to meet its duties, then a breach of the duty of care has occurred. For example, if emergency exits did not work properly, if the engineer operated the train while intoxicated or if the rail company failed to perform an annual inspection on the train — therefore failing to replace a dangerous or defective part — then the duty of care was violated.
The third component of filing a personal injury claim is proving that the plaintiff sustained an injury. The injury can be physical, emotional or financial. However, if injury was not incurred, then the claim cannot move forward.
The fourth and final component of a personal injury claim is proving causation between the breach of duty and the injuries. If it cannot be proved that the breach of duty of care was the direct cause of the injuries, i.e., the injuries would not have occurred but for the breach, then the claim cannot continue. If causation can be established, then the carrier will be held liable for damages. Federal common carrier law states that a common carrier shall be liable for all damages sustained by a passenger in consequence of “any violation” of the provisions of federal law.
Sometimes, causation is obvious, like when a collision occurs. Other times, causation can be more difficult to prove. Any video evidence, witness testimony, expert medical opinion and physical evidence available may be used to prove causation.
Hire an Attorney Today
Following a train accident, you’ll need to file a claim to recover damages. To help you understand and establish the four elements of a personal injury claim, the attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC can help.