Articles Posted in Train Accidents

We all know the dangers of texting and driving, yet more and more American drivers are failing to take them seriously. In fact, a recent AAA study revealed that distracted driving is now the number one danger on American roadways, followed by aggressive driving, and drunk/drugged driving. Many experts blame it on our “productivity culture,” saying the pressure to respond to texts, emails and calls right now is making us more distracted, and less safe.

To reduce this rapidly-growing threat to public safety, we need more than just billboards and ad campaigns. Drivers must understand what happens—to their brains—when they drive while distracted. Taking your eyes off the road to glance at a text impacts more than just your line of vision. Reading that text is a visual distraction, yes, but it can also be a cognitive distraction. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Categories of Distraction

There are three main types of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual and visual are fairly straightforward—you take your hands off the wheel to adjust the stereo, or you take your eyes off the road to read a text. But there’s a third kind of distraction, and this one gets a bit more complicated. When a driver takes his/her attention off the task at hand—driving—he/she may experience inattention blindness, which is the inability to perceive critical driving cues due to cognitive distraction (a.k.a. “zoning out”).

Although inattention blindness can occur at any time, it’s more common following a manual or visual distraction. As a result, even after you’ve read that text and returned your eyes to the road, your mind may be too distracted to notice that the car ahead of you is braking, or that an animal is about to run into the road.

What About Fatigue?

And zoning out doesn’t only occur when a driver is texting or taking his/her hands off the wheel. Fatigue is another leading cause of distraction because it also contributes to inattention blindness. Combined with other distractions, such as reading a text or taking a sip of coffee to stay awake, fatigued driving is particularly dangerous. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The consequences of distracted driving are often devastating. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving-related motor vehicle accidents. Considering that during the day, more than 480,000 people are estimated to be using cell phones while behind the wheel, these statistics aren’t particularly surprising.

And distracted driving doesn’t only involve cell phones. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off the task of driving is considered to be a distraction. This includes everything from adjusting the stereo or navigation system, to eating, drinking, or applying make-up. Continue reading

About 1,000 people are killed in train-related accidents each year and thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries. Despite these shocking statistics, train travel is generally quite safe. But concerns over recent – and tragic – accidents involving Amtrak have authorities questioning the railroad company’s safety culture.

In 2016, an Amtrak passenger train crashed into a backhoe on the track in Chester, PA. The operator claims he tried to stop when he noticed workers on the track, but failed to do so in time. Following the accident, toxicology reports showed that each of the three employees involved in the collision tested positive for drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and opioids.

Without Change, Another Accident is Inevitable

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the accident occurred due to Amtrak’s failure to maintain a “clear, consistent and accepted vision for safety.” The NTSB went on to warn that another accident is inevitable if Amtrak does not make some dramatic changes, and soon.

An NTSB investigation into Amtrak’s 2016 derailment revealed the following problems as the main causes of the crash:

  • The train was permitted to travel on an unprotected track – while employees were working on the track – at maximum speed.
  • The train lacked shunting devices (a feature that indicates if and where workers are present on the railroad track).
  • Amtrak’s safety policies and management are inconsistent.
  • The presence of drugs in three of the workers’ systems further indicated the railroad company’s “weak safety culture.”

Sadly, the collision above is far from the only fatal crash in Amtrak’s recent history. In 2015, more than 200 people were injured and eight were killed when a train derailed in Philadelphia. And only a few weeks ago, two employees were killed and more than 100 people were injured in South Carolina when a passenger train collided with a parked freight train. Officials say that Amtrak’s safety culture was again to blame in the South Carolina crash. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a train-related accident.

Common Carrier Law

Under common carrier law, train operators, railroad workers and train companies are held to a higher standard because they are responsible for the safety of hundreds – even thousands – of people each day. In addition to implementing an effective drug-testing program, Amtrak and other common carriers (such as MBTA) should ensure that employees receive adequate training and that vehicles and equipment are properly maintained and in good, working order at all times.

Amtrak has failed to do its part to protect passengers and limit any harm that can come to them while using its transportation services. When a company like Amtrak neglects to adhere to safety standards and regulations – and injuries result – it should be held accountable for its actions. That being said, determining liability can be an overwhelmingly-complex process. In such a situation, it is essential to consult with an attorney who has extensive experience in cases involving common carriers.

The NTSB recommends that Amtrak overhauls its safety culture by implementing professional risk assessments and ensuring that workers are compliant with safety protocol. If Amtrak does not improve its safety culture, more deadly accidents are inevitable. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you have been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Last week, three people were killed and dozens more were injured when Amtrak’s 501 Cascades high-speed locomotive derailed on its inaugural journey between Seattle and Portland. Excessive speed was a factor. More disturbing, however, was the fact that the automatic braking system (ABS) was installed on the tracks and train, but was not functioning. Such a system would have likely prevented this deadly accident from occurring.

Since 1969, train safety advocates have been pushing for the installation of ABS. According to an Associated Press analysis, since that year, more than 6,700 have been injured and 298 have been killed in accidents involving train derailments. Congress mandated the implementation of “positive train control” (PTC) on all trains by 2015. PTC is a communications system for passenger trains that includes ABS. Despite this mandate, most passenger trains in the United States are not equipped with PTC features. A Boston train accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a train derailment-related accident.

Train was Clocked at Nearly Three Times the Posted Speed Limit

Just before the accident, the train was estimated to be traveling at over 80 mph, nearly three times the legal limit. Occurring to investigators, the train cars were tilting as they rounded the curve with a 30 mph speed limit, and it appeared that the engineer was applying the brakes.

Passengers who were being interviewed shortly after the accident were stunned. Emma Schafer, who was traveling to Portland for the holidays, was napping when her train car fell onto the highway below.

“Have you ever been on a 3D simulator where it shakes you around a pod? It was like that,” said Schafer.

“It felt like the end of the world, like we’d stepped out of a nuclear bunker amid the wreckage,” she continued. “It’s hitting me in waves. I’m suppressing some of it. Tonight is probably going to be rough.”

Amtrak said there were seven crew members and 77 passengers on board at the time of the accident. More than a dozen people suffered serious injuries, some of whom required surgery, and more than 100 people were rushed to the hospital.

Train Accidents are Relatively Common

More than 3,000 train accidents occur in the United States annually. Although not all of these accidents result in injury or death, most involve some level of property damage. The most common railroad accidents involve collisions with other trains or passenger vehicles, derailment, mechanical failure, poorly-maintained tracks, driver fatigue, and driver inexperience. Continue reading

Last week, the family of a child who was severely injured at birth was awarded a $42 million verdict for future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost earning capacity, among other damages. A Pennsylvania judge awarded the multi-million dollar verdict due to the extent of the child’s injuries and the likelihood that he will require life-long care.

The child, who is now five years old, was injured during the delivery process when the doctor allegedly used forceps prematurely to pull the infant from the birth canal. According to the lawsuit, the pressure from the forceps caused internal bleeding, which resulted in permanent injuries, including cognitive problems, physical impairments, and an inability to express himself. As a result, he has suffered multiple brain and spine surgeries, and will require many more in the future. In fact, doctors do not expect that the child will ever read or write, and he may spend the rest of his life in an electric wheelchair.

The birth of a baby is supposed to be a joyous occasion, when a doctor’s negligence or medical malpractice results in painful or debilitating injuries to mother or child, this special day can forever be marred by trauma, sadness, and anger. In some cases, traumatic birth injuries lead to a lifetime of medical problems, and even death. Malpractice claims can be brought against doctors, other medical personnel, and hospitals. However, these types of claims are highly complicated and require the help of a skilled MA birth injury lawyer.

Types of Traumatic Birth Injuries

Any kind of birth-related injury can be classified as a traumatic birth injury, but some of the most common serious birth injuries include:

  • Broken bones and bruising: In many cases, these injuries will heal over a period of time, without the need for medical intervention. Broken bones and bruises are often caused by the use of forceps, vacuums, or natural physical stresses of the birth process. When an infant is tugged with too much force or medical personnel improperly use birth-assisting tools, these injuries can become more severe.
  • Bell’s Palsy: This injury is characterized by facial paralysis, and occurs when the infant’s facial nerves are damaged during the birth process. The damage is often caused by extreme pressure on the infant’s face, either from natural causes or from improper use of forceps during delivery. In most cases, Bell’s Palsy improves without treatment. A Boston injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you were harmed due to medical negligence.
  • Brachial Plexus injury: The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that connects the spine to the arms and hands. When the brachial plexus is injured during the birth process, the baby may temporarily lose the ability to move the arms. In most cases, this injury will heal over time, but brachial plexus injuries can be permanent if the nerves are actually torn. These injuries are most common in difficult births, especially when a doctor pulls too hard to extract an infant whose shoulder is stuck in the birth canal.
  • Anoxia: A form of oxygen deprivation, anoxia can cause serious medical complications in a newborn. If the placenta separates prematurely or the umbilical cord is wrapped around the infant’s neck, oxygen flow to the brain may be reduced to dangerous levels. If a baby is deprived of oxygen for too long, serious brain damage can result. In some cases, this oxygen deprivation causes a medical disorder called cerebral palsy (CP). Children with CP have difficulty controlling body movements and developing / maintaining muscle tone. CP is a serious, life-long and life-altering condition. In some situations, oxygen deprivation leads to death.

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Operating within a metropolitan area unparalleled by its surroundings, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is responsible for transporting millions of people with its trains, buses and ferries every day. Anyone who has ever spent serious time in Boston or its surrounding area has an almost intimate knowledge of “The T.”  As is often the case, we usually take this massively complex operation for granted as we put in our earbuds and zone out during a morning or afternoon commute. However, the MBTA deals with thousands of transport vehicles carrying, as was reported in 2008, 1.3 million riders per day. It is probable that the number of riders has only risen in recent years.  As a result of this massive and regular migration of people, accidents will happen. What matters most, however, is distinguishing the difference between an honest accident that occurs when dealing with such a delicate and widespread entity such as the MBTA, and an accident that occurs as the direct result of the organization’s negligence.

When would the MBTA be at fault?

If you’re riding the green line, headed into the downtown for another day of whatever job you have, or you’re going towards Brighton or Brookline at the end of a long day, and the conductor blows by a stop light and collides with another train – which happened in May of 2009 – then the MBTA and the operator are directly liable for any pain, suffering or medical expenses that result from that negligence.  If a subway station is left in a condition that is hazardous to its patrons, the MBTA is liable. For example, if stairs are left slippery during the winter due to ice, or if a spill is left near the tracks, and somebody slips and falls, the MBTA is liable.

In another case, a green line operator fell asleep while driving a train in 2008 and collided with another train. It was revealed that the operator has sleep apnea, which is definitely a condition that should be on the watch list for the MBTA while hiring people to operate massive machines at various hours of the day and night.  In other cases, the MBTA technology can fail. Mostly everybody who has spent time commuting in the Boston area has heard stories of subway and commuter rail trains literally catching on fire. In some cases, the malfunctioning trains have filled the cabins with smoke, causing riders great discomfort and potential harm. Continue reading

It is a widely known fact that crashes involving large trucks (a.k.a. 18-wheelers, big rigs, tractor-trailers) often result in serious injuries and deaths. It is also relatively common for long-haul truck drivers to spend significant hours behind the wheel during each work shift. In fact, in response to a rise in accidents blamed on driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented hours-of-service rules in 2011. These rules govern the amount of hours that truck drivers can be behind the wheel in a single shift. Although efforts have reduced trucking accidents, approximately 4,000 fatal trucking accidents still occur annually. How can we reduce these  deadly crashes? One startup based in San Francisco thinks it has the answer. Contact a Boston Trucking Accident Lawyer Today.

Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who helped design Google’s driverless cars, left the technology giant to form a startup with two other Google alums and a robotics expert. His company, Otto, aims to power big-rigs with software, cameras, sensors, and lasers that will allow trucks to effectively navigate U.S. highways autonomously while their human drivers rest or complete other tasks. Levandowski believes that driverless big rigs will have an immensely positive effect on highway safety.

Driverless Cars are Already on the Roads

Although this might seem a scary idea to many, it is not a particularly new idea. Thanks to Google, driverless cars are already navigating city streets in Texas, California, Arizona, and Washington. Otto’s vision is to equip robot truckers with the ability to control highway travel. The more complicated task of weaving in and out of city streets would still be left to humans. “Our goal is to make trucks drive as humanly as possible, but with the reliability of machines,” said Levandowski.

Before you start checking every passing 18-wheeler for a robot driver, it might be a good idea to consider that autonomous big rigs may be decades away. Although driverless car technology has made great progress in a relatively short amount of time, the process is expected to move much slower with large trucks. According to Steven Shladover, the program manager for mobility at the University of California’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, convincing government regulators to trust robot drivers to safely steer high-speed trucks on our highways is what’s going to take some time. “I don’t want to be on that highway when there is nobody there to take over a truck with 80,000 pounds of cargo and I don’t think I know anyone else who would want to be,” said Shladover. “The consequences of any kind of failure in any component would be too severe.” Continue reading

Following a chaotic scene at the State Street station Tuesday night, officials at Mass Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) say they will begin a thorough inspection of the Orange Line trains. According to transportation officials, at around 8:30 pm Tuesday night, deteriorating fasteners caused a body panel to fall off an Orange Line train and onto the tracks. The train subsequently ran over the panel, resulting in a disabled train, an overheated motor, and a smoky T station. In fact, as the train began to fill with smoke, some passengers kicked through windows to escape. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Loose Body Panel Hardware Was the Culprit

The good news coming out of this incident is that nobody was injured and MBTA will immediately begin conducting inspections of the Orange Line’s fleet of 120 cars, some of which have been in service since the 1970s. Although the Orange Line cars aren’t the oldest on the T, the older Red and Green Line cars have been rebuilt since they were put into service. The Orange Line vehicles have not. In a statement, the T’s general manager, Frank DePaola said, “Following last night’s incident involving two Orange Line trains, the MBTA is immediately incorporating inspection of body panel hardware as part of regular maintenance work on Orange Line cars.” Let’s hope they stay true to their word, as a future incident could have a more devastating outcome.

According to officials, two cars struck the panel, the car from which it fell and another about six minutes later. Since the train had not come to a proper stop at the station, the doors remained locked. Passengers, who were likely concerned with increasing levels of smoke, had to kick out windows and crawl through the openings to escape. Immediately after the incident, workers inspected every train and secured 13 panels. The panels are actually unique to trains on the Orange Line, so trains from other lines don’t need to be inspected for loose panels. The MBTA performs routine maintenance on the Orange Line trains at 12,000 mile intervals, however, checking for deterioration of fasteners on panels has not been standard procedure. From now on, it will be.

Orange and Red Lines in Head-to-Head Match for Least Reliable Fleet. Over the years, both the Orange and Red lines have become increasingly unreliable. Between February 8th and 14th, the Orange Line trains were running late about 20% of the time. According to MBTA officials, cars from both fleets are scheduled to be replaced, beginning in 2018. Four new cars will be delivered monthly until 2022.

Similar Incident Occurred Last Year. Tuesday’s incident was the second in a little over a year where panic arose due to a smoke-filled MBTA subway train. In January of last year, a failure in a train car’s propulsion system caused a Red Line car to fill with smoke at the Quincy Center station. In that incident, passengers also kicked out the windows of the car. Continue reading

An incident with a Red line commuter train in Quincy Thursday morning could have been tragic. The train traveled multiple stops without an operator, before it was forced to a stop by MBTA operations personnel. According to witnesses, the operator got off the train to check a problem in Braintree, around 6 a.m. However, for reasons as yet unknown, the train began to move, striking the operator. The train picked up speed and rolled through three stops, Quincy Adams, Quincy Center, and Wollaston, before coming to a complete stop just beyond North Quincy. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

When MBTA operations personnel were notified of the incident, they immediately de-powered the third rail, forcing the train to a stop. Passengers were unaware of the danger they were in. In fact, when the train came to a complete stop, rail workers boarded and operated it to JFK/UMass, at which point they requested all remaining passengers to exit.

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation. However, investigators are looking into reports that someone may have tampered with a safety device in the train’s cab. As part of the investigation, both witnesses and the train operator are being questioned. Although foul play has not yet been confirmed, a statement from Gov. Charlie Baker, certainly makes it sound likely. “This train was tampered with, and it was tampered with by someone who knows what he was doing,” said Baker. He then went on to say, “This was an isolated incident, a tampered train, tampered by someone, and we’ll get to the bottom of it, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say about it shortly. Hopefully by the end of the day.”

Although the operator was injured, his injuries are not life-threatening. He is being treated at South Shore Hospital. Fortunately, no one else was injured. In a statement following the incident, Frank DePaola, MBTA’s General Manager, said, “Passenger safety is the highest priority for the MBTA, and this highly troubling incident is under investigation by Transit Police detectives.”

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Personal Injury Law Firm

As the above case is still under investigation, we don’t yet know if the cause was due to mechanical error, faulty parts, negligence, or criminal actions. Fortunately in this case, no serious injuries were reported. But it serves as a good reminder that commuter trains are heavy, fast-moving, dangerous machines, and we should always be aware of our surroundings when traveling on any kind of train or subway system. So many of us make our morning and evening commutes on auto-pilot, staring at our phone screens, or listening to music. These are great ways to pass the time, but just remember to pay attention to what is going on around you at all times. Continue reading

A man was struck and killed by a train Monday afternoon according to reports provided by The Boston Fire Department. Law enforcement officials received a call at approximately 2:30 PM stating that man had become pinned underneath a Red Line train at the JFK/U Mass MBTA station. Though responding officers worked to release the man from beneath the train, the victim was later pronounced dead on scene following the retrieval efforts.

The name of the victim has yet to be released by authorities are stating that the unidentified man is between the ages of 50-60 years old. The exact events surrounding the accident are currently under active investigation but police have stated that they do not suspect foul play in the matter. According to an MBTA police officer, the man allegedly stumbled onto the tracks in the Dorchester neighborhood that houses the JFK/U Mass MBTA station. It is not clear at this time if the man accidently stumbled onto the tracks or if he does so purposefully. He was subsequently struck by a Red Line train destined for the Braintree station shortly after falling onto the tracks.

Transit police detectives for the MBTA are currently investigating the incident with help from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office in an effort to determine what lead to the fatal accident. Continue reading

A pedestrian was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Mansfield, Massachusetts early this morning, Thursday August 13th. In one news report, it was said that personnel from the MBTA Transit Police had reported a man trespassing in the area around Track 2 shortly before they received reports of an individual being struck and killed by a train. The identity of the individual that was unfortunately killed has not been disclosed at this time, as family notification is still pending. Responding officers have indicated that the victim is a man, which attests to earlier reports of a man seen trespassing along the tracks.

According to preliminary reports being released, MBTA police contacted the Mansfield Public Safety Dispatch at approximately 10:50 AM to report that a pedestrian had been struck by a train. The Amtrak train was traveling south at the time, and the accident occurred just south of the MBTA train station that is located near George Street in Mansfield on Route 128. After striking the victim, the train stopped on the tracks while they waited for emergency officials to respond to the scene.

According to a spokeswoman for Amtrak, Vernae Graham, the train was traveling a route from Boston to Washington D.C. at the time of the accident. She also stated that there were roughly 189 passengers on the Amtrak train at the time and that no injuries were reported for any of the passengers following the crash. Continue reading

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