Trains are a central part of life in Indiana. The state has more than 4,255 miles of railroad tracks currently in use for both personal and commercial transportation. Whether a commuter is riding to work on the South Shore Line or a corporation is shipping its goods along the Norfolk Southern Railway, Hoosiers rely on trains each and every day.
But with so many trains crisscrossing the state, Indiana train accidents and other track-related injuries may be inevitable. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reports that Indiana has suffered a total of 276 train accidents since 2018, with derailment as the top contributory factor. Additionally, Indiana ranked fifth in the nation in highway-rail grade crossing collisions in 2022, with 101 accidents at railroad crossings that resulted in 27 injuries and 20 deaths.
Even non-fatal train accidents can cause grievous bodily harm, including broken bones, amputation of limbs, brain and spinal impairment, and paralysis, potentially necessitating prolonged treatment that may be beyond the means of most Indiana families.
If you have been hurt in an Indiana train accident, you may be eligible to pursue a claim for compensation. To increase your chances of success, reach out to the Indiana train accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been fighting on behalf of the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years.
Call us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation with an Indiana train accident lawyer.
Types of Indiana Train Accidents
Train accidents can take a variety of forms, but some of the leading types of Indiana train accidents include:
- Derailments – The vast majority of train accidents involve derailments. According to incident reports filed with the FRA, there have been at least 135,507 train derailments nationwide from 1975 through 2023, representing 71 percent of all American train accidents. Derailment is the chief cause of Indiana train accidents as well, contributing to 117 incidents over the most recent six-year period on record.
- Collisions – Trains may collide with passenger vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, obstacles, and even other trains. Train-related injuries and deaths are more likely to occur in such collisions, usually among the drivers, passengers, and individuals who are struck by trains, while railroad crossings are the most frequent locations of these kinds of accidents.
- Structural collapses – Train accidents may lead to or be caused by collapses of bridges, tunnels, and other structures, which can inflict severe damages, injuries, and casualties.
- Fires and explosions – Trains can catch fire or explode because of a collision or a derailment or as a result of a malfunctioning train part or a calamity onboard.
- Toxic chemical releases – Trains regularly transport dangerous materials, such as flammable substances or toxic chemicals. Accidents in which these materials are released can pose significant risks to human and environmental health and well-being, such as the train derailment in East Palestine, OH, which spilled more than 100,000 gallons of contaminants into the air and water.
- Boarding and departure problems – Passengers and personnel may suffer injuries while boarding or departing from trains, perhaps from equipment defects or inaccurate direction by supervising authorities.
These types of train accidents are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, a train may collide with a vehicle stopped on a track and get derailed by the impact, releasing poisonous liquids into the surrounding area in the process. When this happens, different parties could suffer different injuries caused by different aspects of the same accident, for which different defendants may be liable.
Regardless of the events that precipitated your injury, our Indiana train accident attorneys can advise you of the best steps to take if you are contemplating a case.
Why Do Indiana Train Accidents Occur?
A wide range of elements may be partially or entirely at fault for a serious Indiana train accident. Half of all train accidents in the United States since 1975 have been technical in nature, caused either by a structure issue with the track or roadbed (35 percent) or by mechanical failure (15 percent). The second-largest share of domestic train accidents have been attributed to human factors, such as crewmembers who neglect their duties or violate the rules, which encompasses approximately 30 percent of train accidents across the country and 36 percent of train accidents in Indiana.
Specific causes of Indiana train accidents may include:
- Railway worker errors
- Train operator mistakes or misconduct, like speeding or disregarding stop signals
- Mistakes or misconduct by other drivers, such as attempting to “beat the train”
- Inadequate maintenance or inspection of tracks
- Faulty or missing crossties, switch points, and other equipment
- Defective design or manufacture of trains or their components
- Insufficient education of rail employees
Many of these factors could be a sign of negligence by train companies and employers looking to cut costs and improve the bottom line. When profits come at the expense of public safety, Hensley Legal Group will be there to hold the ones responsible to account.
Who Is Responsible for an Indiana Train Accident?
But who exactly is responsible for an Indiana train accident? Determining culpability can be challenging in a train accident because of the number of parties who may be involved.
In some incidents, the engineer or operator may be liable, along with the train company by extension. In collision-based train accidents, the driver and/or the owner of another vehicle may be at fault.
Sometimes, an outside party who loaded a train improperly or neglected to ensure that hazardous materials were secured for safe transportation could share blame when these activities either cause an accident to happen or worsen its effects. If an accident is the result of a defective train, train component, or piece of railroad line equipment, the manufacturer could be blamed. At other times, a government agency could be at fault when a train accident is caused by an improper railroad layout or a failure to maintain or make improvements to the tracks.
In certain instances, multiple individuals and entities could have varying levels of liability simultaneously for a single train accident, for which they would have varying levels of economic liability.
Given how many parties may be involved, it is vital for an injured plaintiff to go after every one of them within the time allotted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations. The Statute is two years for most train accidents in Indiana, but it can be shorter in claims against government bodies, with further restrictions that may apply under Indiana’s Tort Claims Act. In these scenarios, a Notice of Tort Claim may need to be filed with the appropriate agency within 270 days of the date of loss (or 180 days in some claims against “political subdivisions”).
Failure to comply with all regulations and deadlines when filing a lawsuit or attempting to establish a claim could forever bar a plaintiff from fair financial recovery for a train accident.
Our meticulous Indiana train accident lawyers will make sure to dot every “i” and cross every “t” so that a bureaucratic oversight does not derail your quest for justice.
How Our Train Accident Attorneys Can Help
A train accident can be catastrophic. Seemingly overnight, you could find yourself coping with skyrocketing medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, possibly while your injuries hinder your ability to earn a living. It can become tough just to make ends meet, much less address the new demands on your family’s pocketbook.
When the worst happens, you need attorneys with the compassion to support you through your struggles and the wisdom to bring those struggles to an end. You need the Indiana train accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been helping the innocent victims of negligence since the firm first opened its doors in 1998. No adversary is too intimidating to keep us from doing everything we can to serve the interests of our clients.
If you decide to hire us, we will conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of your train accident and everyone who may bear responsibility for it within the time permitted by law. We will also amass the materials required to build your claim, taking prompt action to safeguard them from destruction when the situation warrants it.
If evidence of wrongdoing by the defendants exists, Hensley’s tenacious Indiana train accident lawyers will work tirelessly to find it.
Maximize the Value of Your Train Accident Case
Once we have put together an airtight case against the at-fault parties, we will negotiate directly with their insurance companies and representatives to reach a settlement that considers the full spectrum of your losses from the train accident, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Reduced quality of living
- Diminishment of marital relations
- Punitive and wrongful death damages (if applicable)
And if we do not receive an offer that is worthy of your claim, we are not afraid to go to trial for a verdict that is, unlike many of our competitors, who rarely, if ever, see the inside of a courtroom.
No two train accident cases are exactly the same, but we always strive to maximize the value of yours.
You Won’t Have to Pay Anything Until We Win
We realize that you may be concerned about spending more money when you can least afford to do so, so you may be pleased to learn that our firm works on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t have to pay us anything until our Indiana train accident attorneys win your case.
When that train left the station, you had no idea how long and arduous the journey ahead of you would be, but you can trust Hensley to guide you to a satisfying conclusion.
Contact Our Indiana Train Accident Lawyers
Hensley Legal Group has been defending the rights of the hardworking men and women of Indiana for over a quarter century. If you have been hurt through no fault of your own, contact our Indiana train accident lawyers to discover the legal remedies available to you.
You can arrange a no-cost case review with one of our dedicated Indiana train accident attorneys now by calling us at (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or filling out our contact form.
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