Train derailments are more of a risk than people may realize

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Train Accidents

Trains can be a practical and cost-effective solution for both local and long-distance travel. People tend to think of trains as both efficient and highly safe. After all, they transport potentially hundreds of people at once with minimal potential for human error.

Despite the trust that people often place in train-based transportation, people can get hurt when they travel via train. Some incidents might involve the unique limitations of train stations, such as the risk of someone falling from a platform. Other times, issues with the infrastructure used for train travel could lead to a significant injury. Train derailments may seem rare, but they actually occur far more frequently than people realize.

There are multiple derailments on average each day

When looking at a long-term review of train incidents, including derailments, it is hard to overlook the frequency with which these issues arise each year. Researchers looking at train incidents in 2023 found that, when evaluating the last decade of train derailment statistics, the United States averages approximately 1,300 derailments every year.

That works out to roughly 3.5 train derailments every day. Many of those incidents involved cargo trains rather than passenger trains, but even those cases can lead to injuries for anyone working on the train or nearby when the derailment occurs. Derailments account for approximately 61% of the reported train incidents evaluated. Other issues included collisions, fires and incidents that occur when trains cross streets.

Overall, the potential of a derailment is much lower now than it was in the 1980s or the 1990s. However, the risk to occupants when a train derails is impossible to overlook. Many derailments are the result of improperly maintained infrastructure or inappropriate behavior by the conductor operating the train. The transportation authority operating the train may therefore have a degree of liability for a derailment or another train-related incident that leaves people with injuries and property damage losses.

In some cases, those negatively affected by a train derailment in Washington may have legal grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the organization operating the train or responsible for infrastructure maintenance. Realizing that certain travel risks are predictable may help people feel comfortable holding companies accountable for their failure to address known hazards.


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