Railroad Accidents

Experience and dedication leads to results for injured clients

The recent spate of deadly Metro North crashes has raised much concern about the safety of commuter railroads serving greater New York City. At DeToffol & Gittleman, our attorneys share that concern and are determined to assist passengers and crew who suffer serious injuries due to operator negligence or poor maintenance of railroad tracks and equipment. As experienced attorneys who have won several landmark cases, we have the knowledge and resources to challenge powerful private and governmental entities, including regional and national railroads. Together with investigators and accident reconstruction experts, we analyze the cause of your accident and build a case to maximize your compensation. Our trial attorneys seek favorable jury verdicts for our clients, but we are also skilled negotiators if a settlement is in your best interest.

LIRR WYANDANCH STREET LEVEL CROSSING train crash kills pedestrian. Recent Case: _Brown v. L.I.R.R._

A grieving Wyandanch family lost a key family member to a LIRR express train, who was crossing the tracks on his way to church. Our attorneys helped the family recover from the LIRR for their loss. If this happened to someone you know, we can help. Call us now.

Understanding the causes of railroad accidents in and around New York City

Railroad traffic within and through New York City is enormous. MTA trains alone carry an average of 8,658,764 passengers per day. Other railroads serving the greater New York area include:

  • Amtrak · Long Island Rail Road
  • Metro North
  • MTA Staten Island Railway · New Jersey Transit
  • PATH

Because of the nature of heavy rail equipment, and the fact that train passengers don’t wear seatbelts, even minor incidents can cause serious, life-threatening injuries. The major causes of railroad accidents are:

  • Derailment — Factors that contribute to derailments include debris on tracks, poor track maintenance and excessive speed.
  • Collision — Operator error can cause trains to collide with one another when, for example, one train runs a red signal. Switching errors can also send trains down the wrong track.
  • Crossing accident — Stalled vehicles at railroad crossings can cause massive collisions and derailments. Certain vehicles, carrying fuel or caustic chemicals, can cause secondary harm due to fire or exposure.
  • Slip and fall — Railroad companies have a duty to make their stations and equipment reasonably safe for passengers. Although a slip-and-fall is not technically a railroad accident, you would still have to sue the railroad company, which would vigorously oppose your claim.

If you are injured in a railroad accident, you can be compensated for your injuries, disabilities, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, personal injury cases arising from train or bus accidents can be difficult to fight, since these are often government-controlled entities and special rules for claims apply. One of those rules is a shorter statute of limitations, which makes it vitally important that you contact a skilled train accident attorney right away.

Federal law gives special rights to railroad employees

If you are a railroad employee, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) allows you to sue for damages, so you are not limited to workers’ compensation. Enacted in 1908, FELA shifts the burden of proof to the railroad, making it the company’s responsibility to prove it was not at fault. But don’t expect the railroad to quietly approve your claim — it will use any information from its internal investigation to minimize your compensation. To ensure that your claim gets a fair hearing, you should contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible.