Charleston Railroad and Train Accident Lawyer
Trains continue to be an essential part of the transportation infrastructure. The U.S. rail network includes almost 140,000 miles of track. Amtrak operates a 21,356 mile network across the country serving more than 500 communities. While most trips operate without issue, about 1,000 train accidents occur each year in the U.S, causing serious injury and death, resulting in train accident lawsuits.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulates the railroad industry in the United States, much in the same way the FAA regulates the aviation industry, and the FMCSA regulates the trucking industry. If a Charleston train accident is caused by the negligence of the railroad company, they may be liable for serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths that occur.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a Charleston railroad accident, contact attorney Mark Bringardner today to discuss your legal rights. Railroad companies dispatch their investigators to an accident scene almost immediately. Major transportation accidents will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies. They will look into oversight issues and identify causes of accidents.
It is important to note, even if the NTSB is involved, investigations and subsequent reports are not a substitute for investigations for wrongful death litigation or personal injury claims. There have been cases where a NTSB’s determination of probable cause has not revealed the full story. If you are a victim of injury in a train accident, getting your own legal representation as soon as possible is necessary to ensure your rights are fully protected, and negligent parties are held accountable to the maximum extent.
Train Operations in Charleston
CSX Transportation is South Carolina’s largest freight railroad with 1,269 route miles. CSX transports everything from consumer products and food to automobiles and agricultural products. Another freight operator, Norfolk Southern (NS) operates 679 route miles in South Carolina as part of a larger network of rail lines east of the Mississippi River, and moves equipment, lumber and wood products, coal, chemicals and other products on their lines. Amtrak runs eight daily trains through South Carolina, using freight railroads (one on Norfolk Southern and two on CSX). Amtrak routes in South Carolina with one round trip daily include:
- Silver Star – New York/Tampa/Miami via Columbia
- Silver Meteor – New York/Miami via Charleston
- Palmetto – New York/Savannah via Charleston
- Crescent – New York/New Orleans via Greenville.
South Carolina does not have commuter rail services. There are also a number of Short Line Railroads that serve a small number of towns or industries, like the Aiken Railway in Southwestern South Carolina, which operates 12.45 miles of track between Warrenville and Oakwood, and 6.45 miles of track between Aiken and Seclay. Both tracks are leased from Norfolk Southern.
Train Accidents in Charleston
The majority of train accidents involve a train vs. another vehicle, a bicyclist, or pedestrian. These collisions can be catastrophic, resulting in serious or permanently-disabling injury or wrongful death. Based on rates of deaths in vehicle/train collisions vs. vehicle/vehicle crashes, a motor vehicle driver or passenger is almost 20 times more likely to die in a collision involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. There have been two major train accidents in Charleston in the past 20 years:
- On February 4, 2018, an Amtrak accident in Cayce, South Carolina injured 116 people and killed two people (both Amtrak crew members). That accident was later determined to be caused by preventable human errors, specifically, a CSX conductor failed to move a switch that would have kept the Amtrak train on the main track.
- January 6, 2005, two Norfolk Southern trains collided due to a misaligned railroad switch. Nine people died in that collision and more than 250 people were treated for toxic chlorine exposure.
Railroad Company Accidents
Many devastating train accidents are caused by negligence of the railroad company, which depends on their employees for safe and on-time movements. Train accidents can be the result of negligent actions of a locomotive engineer and/or conductor. The locomotive engineer operates the locomotive, and the conductor is responsible for the train, weight and crew. Conductors direct communications between the railroad company and the engineer on the train, and are ultimately responsible for the safety of the passengers and workers on the train.
In the 2008 Chatsworth, CA train crash, involving a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train which killed 25 people and injured 135 NTSB determined the engineer of the Metrolink missed an alert for oncoming rail traffic where a freight train had been given the right-of-way on a section of single track. The engineer had been texting the day of the crash, which was prohibited, and sent a text 22 seconds before the crash.
Contact a Charleston Train Accident Lawyer Today
Attorney Mark Bringardner represents individuals who have suffered serious injury or death in train accidents. He understands the complex nature of railroad regulations and claims against railroad companies. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.