Although trains are considered generally safe compared to other forms of transport, there are still reports of train and subway accidents in California. The number of accidents may not be high, but injuries can be devastating, depending on the kind of accident in which the person has been involved. Whether you are a pedestrian, train, or subway employee, commuter, or car occupant, it helps to know that you can find justice and compensation if you have been wrongly injured in a train or subway accident.
At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we are devoted to ensuring that people who have suffered catastrophic damages are recovering full compensation from those responsible for their damages. Therefore, if you or your loved one has been injured and you are contemplating seeking justice and redress, get in touch with us.
Overview of Train and Subway Accidents in California
Trains are not as frequent as they were before as people nowadays prefer to travel by plane or car. However, there are still a good number of those that trust the safety of trains, especially for long-distance journeys. Just like other means of transport out there, including cars and planes, train and subway accidents are likely to happen, especially if there is negligence on the part of the driver or subway management. For that reason, it is good to know what to do if you suffer catastrophic injuries in a train or subway accident.
Most of the train and subway injuries that have been reported in California are a product of human factors. If a person disregards train and subway users' safety and does something that directly causes them injuries, the person will be held responsible for the resulting damages. It means that anyone that suffers injuries in that accident has a legal right to file for compensation against the negligent party. Note that this fact must be proven before a court for the injured person's claim to be granted.
Trains are usually larger in size ad heavier than ordinary vehicles. For that reason, a train accident is likely to cause devastating damage. People in or close to the train could suffer catastrophic injuries, and others could lose their life as a result. You need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney if you are planning to pursue compensation for your injuries. Since most of the trains and subways are owned and managed by city and state authorities, you need an attorney that understands and has experience in dealing with the different law that governs them. This way, you can be sure to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Train and subway accidents can take various forms, and the resulting injuries can differ significantly. Some accidents will only affect one individual, while others can affect a multiple of passengers or an entire community. An accident happening at a train crossing may, for instance, only affect one person. However, train derailment can result in multiple casualties. Some accidents are more catastrophic than others, for example, a train accident involving a tanker ferrying toxic materials. The latter may not only result in immediate injuries on the people inside and outside the train but also affect the safety and health of the surrounding community. Understanding the type of train or subway accident you have been involved in is very important as it helps establish fault.
People that could be injured in a train or subway accident are also dependent on the type of accident. These people could be:
- Bystanders or pedestrians
- Train passengers
- Passengers and drivers in other vehicles
- Railroad employees
There is no limitation on anyone that can claim compensation in a train or subway accident as long as there is proof of fault. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney will help you identify the at-fault party, build a strong case against that party, and file your claim in a civil court within the given period.
Common Train and Subway Accident Injuries
Train and subway accidents are some of the most dangerous accidents, not just in California but also in the United States. Trains in California offer not only transport for people but also goods. Railroad crossing and intersections are the major hotspots for most of these accidents. These are the areas where trains are likely to come into contact with people and other vehicles. When collisions occur in such places, severe injuries can be registered, and sometimes death. Investigations into such accidents will reveal the collision's exact cause, to help anyone that is pursuing compensation for their injuries.
Because of how most of these accidents occur, it is right to say that most of the injuries that result from such accidents are catastrophic. Catastrophic damages are a type of personal injury that affects a person permanently, making it difficult for that individual to live his/her life entirely. Such injuries will, for instance, make it impossible for the person to carry out any gainful engagement. Catastrophic injuries are also the kind of injuries that happen unexpectedly, with no subsequent indication. It leaves the person with a lasting disability, which may linger on for the remaining part of their life.
It means that catastrophic injuries could result from a bodily injury that results in a grave and long-term effect on the injured person. People who have suffered devastating injuries suffer for the remaining part of their life, together with their families. The primary type of suffering that comes with this injury is emotional suffering, such as stress. The injured will suffer stress since he/she will need constant care and support for a long period or for the remaining part of their life, unlike what they were accustomed to. Other catastrophic injuries leave the victims with the need for rehabilitation and medical help for a long time. It affects the person's or their family's finances.
Among the most common catastrophic injuries associated with train and subway accidents are:
Injuries to the Spinal Cord
Injuries to the spinal cord are among the most reported types of damage done by people who have been involved in train or subway accidents. The spinal cord of a human being is very sensitive, and so, an injury could result in partial or complete loss of senses as well as motor functioning below and/or above the damaged part. Most people whose spinal cord has been injured lost the operation of all parts of their body, and could remain so for the remaining part of their lives.
That is why it is wise to seek immediate medical help if you have been involved in any kind of accident. You may not know the extent of your injuries until after a doctor has examined you. Among the signs that could indicate damage to the spinal cord is:
- Pain or extreme pressure in the head, back and/or neck
- Loss of tingling or sensation on the fingers, toes and/or feet
- Partial or total loss of movement in specific parts of the body
- Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence or retention
- An abnormal pressure or pain in the middle part of the body
- Irregular breathing soon after the accident
One may or may never recover fully from an injury to the spinal cord. All this depends on the impact of the crash, as well as the gravity of the injury. Even after recovery, you may never be able to go back to your routine. The patient might need rehabilitation and counseling to enjoy a healthier life after the accident.
Injuries Resulting in Loss of Sight or Hearing
A severe accident like one caused by trains can result in loss of hearing or sight. When this happens, the victim, as well as the people around him/her, must adopt new ways of living with the loss. Loss of hearing or sight is not something that anyone is usually prepared for. for that reason, coping with everyday life will be a challenge that the injured person must live with for the rest of his/her life. In addition to the loss of something significant in his/her life, the accident victim must also cater to the high treatment costs.
Some of the injuries that result in loss hearing include:
- Punctured or scarred eardrum, which is likely to happen in a severe crash
- Dislocation of an idle ear
Common grounds for loss of sight, on the other hand, include:
- Inadequate amount of oxygen to the brain
- Brain tumors
- Trauma to the brain
If you or your loved one has suffered a loss of sight or hearing from a train or subway accident, it is advisable to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. You need compensation for all you are going through and what you will deal with in the future, as you cope with your new way of life.
Loss of a Limb/Amputation
A severe train or subway accident could leave a person without one or more limbs or severely damaged limbs. When this happens, the person will have to deal with the loss and learn new ways of living without the limb or limbs. When a body part is severely damaged, sometimes the only solution a doctor gives is amputation. Whether it is a limb or just a finger, the life of the person changes automatically. Other than the inability to perform in specific duties that were easy for the person before, such a noteworthy loss could cause the person to suffer high stress or even death.
A severely damaged limb or body part could also result in shock, trauma, significant loss of blood, and sometimes infections that are expensive to treat. The costs related to an amputation are also quite high, as well as anything else that might be done to help the person live a life close to normal. For instance, the person may require artificial limbs, which can be very expensive, depending on the nature of the amputation.
In addition to that, the person will undergo a tremendous financial burden and pain for an extended period of their life. It will not only affect them and their family's finances but also physically and emotionally.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are usually severe because they are not easily diagnosed. Symptoms typically start to manifest themselves slowly after an injury, especially if the person was hard hit on the head. It could take just a few hours, a number of hours, days and sometimes weeks after the accident. Once a person's brain suffers trauma, their life is changed, and things may never get back to the way they were before.
Traumatic brain injuries are, therefore, some of the most severe catastrophic injuries a person can suffer after getting involved in a train or subway accident. These are injuries that will affect almost all aspects of a person's life. That explains why it helps to watch out for any possible symptom you might exhibit after the accident. If in doubt, get immediate medical care. If you have suffered brain trauma, a doctor might be able to diagnose it on time for proper and timely intervention.
Among the symptoms that may indicate trauma to the brain is:
- A feeling of confusion, disorientation or looking dazed
- Loss of consciousness, even if it occurred only for some seconds/minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Convulsions or seizures
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Dilated pupils
- loss of coordination
- weakness or numbness on the toes and/or fingers
- Sleeping more than usual
Paralysis will occur if an injured person is unable to feel certain parts of their body, mostly when their connection to the brain has been affected by an injury. There are several types of paralysis, the most popular ones being temporary and permanent paralysis. A temporary paralysis can be treated, and the person can go back to their regular daily routine. However, a permanent paralysis will change the person’s life for good.
If an accident occurs suddenly, it could severely injure the person to the point that they are unable to move the affected parts of their body. This is because blood flow has been altered in these parts, and hence changing the way those parts of the body function. Paralysis will affect such body functions as breathing, speaking, swallowing, sexual responses, or the person’s urge to use the bathroom. The body functioning a person loses on the body part that has been injured in the accident.
Paralysis has no cure, and so, the person may have to rely on rehabilitation to regain some of their muscle control. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, supportive devices and mobility aids will be required for the individual to live a life that is close to normal.
Who Could Be Liable?
Light trails, commuter trains, and subways, are usually managed and owned by state and city authorities. Only a few are owned and operated by private companies. For that reason, determining who owns a train or a train station is essential when an accident occurs. In cases where the government is the owner of the train or subway where the accident occurred, lawsuits and settlements arising from those accidents will involve procedures and requirements that are different from other personal injury lawsuits. In that case, you will need to work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who understands these procedures and requirements better. This way, you will not miss out on the compensation you deserve from the accident.
The most important thing, in this case, will be to identify the party liable for the accident. It will not only determine the person paying the compensation but also the deadline within which your claim must be submitted in a civil court. The responsible party will also determine whether or not there are restrictions on the costs that the plaintiff can recover from the accident.
If you got injured in an accident involving a government train or a government-owned subway, there is something that is called sovereign immunity that you should be aware of. It is an old principle of governance in which the government can’t face a lawsuit in its courts unless it gives consent to the trial. It means that the plaintiff could be barred from filing a lawsuit against the state or an agency of the state even after suffering damages in a subway or train accident. If, by any chance, the plaintiff is allowed to present such a lawsuit, he/she will be given a short time within which the claim must be filed in a civil court.
In that case, the plaintiff will be required to file a notice of his/her claim following the accident within a particular period. With typical personal injury lawsuits, there is usually a statute of limitations, which determines the deadline within which the injured must file a suit against the responsible party. A notice of the claim, in cases involving states or state agencies, creates another deadline, usually shorter than the timeframe for a typical case.
It means that the plaintiff will be given a month or two to file a notification of the claim following an accident involving a train or subway owned or managed by the state or a state agency. This is different from a typical personal injury situation, whose deadline for filing a lawsuit in a civil court goes for one or more years. Note that filing a notification of a claim is different from filing a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff must file the notification first, before filing the lawsuit in a civil court.
Another important detail you should know about filing a personal injury lawsuit against the government is damage caps. Damage caps are a law that limits the amount of money a plaintiff can get for non-economic damages in a particular case. Every state has its damage caps, with the Federal law’s damage caps for train accidents standing at $200 million. Sometimes this law bans certain types of damages. For that reason, it is essential to work with a highly skilled personal injury lawyer to understand better these laws and how they might affect your case.
Compensatory Damages in a California Train or Subway Accident
If you have suffered catastrophic injuries in a train or subway accident in California, it is essential to know what the compensatory damages are to get it right for a full compensation. Your attorney will guide you in determining your damages and evaluating just how much money they have and will cost in the future to get the right amount of money to include in the claim. Compensatory damages in all personal injury lawsuits are categorized as follows:
They include all those losses that have cost the injured person his/her money. They include the following:
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Lost property
- Legal fees
They include all those losses that do not have any monetary value. They are usually trying to calculate, but an experienced attorney could help you come up with a monetary value for them. Some of these damages include:
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, fear, loss of fun in life
- Suffering and pain, especially if the person's abilities have been impaired or they have suffered a physical disfigurement.
These are damages awarded to the plaintiff by the court to punish the responsible party and also caution others against negligence that could result in the kinds of injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury through a train or subway accident, you need the best help you can get in pursuing compensation. A skilled personal injury lawyer will not only be there to help you put together a strong case against the responsible party but also advise you on the best options for your particular situation. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, you will find attorneys with vast skills and understanding in handling these types of cases. If you are in Orange County, CA and would like to work with us, call us at 714-876-1959. We will ensure that you have all the assistance and help you need to get the compensation you deserve.