NJ Trains and the Effect of Collisions on Cars and Railroad Workers

NJ Trains and the Effect of Collisions on Cars and Railroad WorkersAt any given time, there are thousands of trains moving or at rest in the state of New Jersey. Train accidents are, unfortunately, a common occurrence in the state; these can include a train-vehicle collision at a railroad crossing or an individual train crash or derailment.

NJ TRANSIT reports that it operates 1,231 trains and 93 light rail vehicles, and Amtrak has 14 stations and stops in the state that are part of major East Coast routes.

Train-vehicle collisions

The Federal Railroad Administration (part of the US Department of Transportation) reported over 2000 highway-rail collisions in 2021, with over 200 fatalities. Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety non-profit organization, says people assume a train will be able to stop quickly in order to avoid a collision, when in reality it can take a train over a mile to stop completely.

Additionally, people think if they don’t see a train that means there isn’t one approaching – but a train traveling over 50 mph can appear suddenly around a track and is likely closer and moving more quickly than one might assume. This means that by the time a train sees a car on the tracks, it may already be too late to avoid a collision.

As a driver near train tracks, it is vital to take certain safety measures in order to avoid being in the path of a moving train:

  • Always obey lowered gates and flashing lights at a railway crossing – just because you don’t see a train doesn’t mean it is safe to cross
  • If a train is approaching at a crossing without gates or signals, know that the train always has the right of way and the car must always yield
  • Pay attention to Low Ground Clearance signs, and if you drive a vehicle that sits low to the ground, cross somewhere else in order to avoid becoming stuck on tracks
  • If your vehicle does get stuck on tracks, immediately exit the vehicle and move a safe distance away before calling for emergency help

Train collisions and derailments in New Jersey

When a train crashes or derails, there are usually significant injuries to both passengers and nearby pedestrians. Unfortunately, New Jersey is no stranger to train crashes; in fact, NJ TRANSIT was part of a federal inquiry in 2017 after a fatal accident in Hoboken in 2016. Bloomberg reported at the time that NJ TRANSIT, as the third largest public transportation system, had the highest number of accidents over the past 10 years. Additionally, “human behavior” played a role in 165 of those crashes – the other nine of the top 10 largest rail systems only had 169 human behavior incidents combined.

For a train passenger or nearby pedestrian injured by a train collision, lawsuits can be extremely complicated. When a train crash occurs, the train’s agency will typically reach a settlement which caps the amount of monetary compensation available to victims, and each victim will not necessarily receive the same amount of compensation. A victim has the option to settle their lawsuit or to go to court; this can be a difficult decision for any person to make, but it is vital for a victim to be sure he or she is awarded adequate compensation for their injuries. Reaching out to an experienced lawyer can ensure he or she receives the best compensation package possible in order to cover things like medical expenses and loss of work due to injury.

NJ train crashes effect on railroad workers

The Tri-State area of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania leads to railroad workers regularly crossing state lines for work; because of this, New Jersey train conductors and railroad workers are protected under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, railroad employees injured at work or who suffer occupational diseases – cancer, hearing loss, etc. – can file a suit against their employer. A lawsuit on behalf of a FELA protected employee can provide monetary compensation to cover material problems like medical bills or lost wages, but also less tangible problems like emotional distress, pain and suffering, or diminished earning capacity.

For a railroad employee looking to file a FELA lawsuit, an experienced lawyer is absolutely vital. In workers’ compensation cases, the victim typically has to provide evidence against the employer; this evidence can span years and can often be difficult to obtain. A victim can depend on an experienced lawyer to spend time researching the case and the company in order to find the necessary evidence for a positive outcome. FELA claims can become extremely complicated, and remember – the employer involved will certainly have lawyers working for their side.

Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP has the knowledge and experience required to take on the most complicated cases; we will examine all the details of the case and explain your options, and we never accept a FELA case we are not confident will have positive results for our clients. Our team has secured over $750 million in verdicts and settlements for injured clients and we are designated by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as Certified Civil Trial Attorneys.

We specifically have experience with railroad worker FELA cases and will apply our knowledge and experience to your specific case. One of our top lawyers – Barry R. Eichen – successfully obtained one of the largest FELA verdicts in the country for a railroad worker who suffered pulmonary fibrosis due to various railroads’ failure to provide adequate respiratory protection. The victim was awarded $19.2 million in compensation.

Did you or a loved one suffer an injury in an accident with a train in New Jersey? Whether you were in a vehicle or were walking near the train as a railroad worker, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Call the office of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP at 732-777-0100 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today. We serve clients out of our offices in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River.