Los Angeles Attorneys For Railroad and Mass Transit Accidents
Helping victims of plane, train, bus and public transportation in California
California’s mass transit systems service nearly 40 million residents and countless visitors each year. When something goes wrong and people are hurt, the resulting litigation can be challenging. You want an experienced legal team on your side.
The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers of McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP have represented clients throughout California who have been hurt in mass transit accidents, from train derailments, bus crashes, aviation accidents, ferry accidents and more. Over the past three decades, our firm has fought on behalf of the injured and their families to ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable, winning millions of dollars on their behalf. Contact us to learn more about your legal options.
Railroad accidents in California
There are more than 6,000 miles of railroad track in California, serving passengers and freight shippers from around the country. The Metrolink serves the greater Los Angeles area, with two new high-speed rail stations expected to be complete by 2029.
Trains are supposed to help ease congestion and make travel easier and safer, but people are seriously injured in train accidents more often than you might realize. The most common railroad accidents involve other motor vehicles at railroad crossings. Improper signage, overgrown foliage, broken warning systems, and driver or engineer negligence can contribute to a train collision—and the results can be deadly.
When is a railroad liable for a collision?
Railroad crossings, like the tracks themselves, are owned by railroad companies, but the train running on the tracks may be owned by a different company. For example, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the country’s largest freight railroad, owns the tracks and switching junctions in Los Angeles. However, passenger trains may run on those tracks, as well. If an Amtrak train derails because of broken train tracks, or if two trains collide because the switches were defective, the liable party may by the owner of the tracks – not Amtrak. On the other hand, if the Amtrak engineer falls asleep or is distracted when going around a curve and the train derails, then the engineer, Amtrak and/or both could be liable.
Amtrak accidents, and the need for positive train control
Amtrak served about 31.7 million people in 2018. It owes its riders a duty of care, and yet each year, an Amtrak train is involved in some kind of accident. There have been seven derailments since 2015 and six collisions, leading to hundreds of injuries and deaths.
Amtrak has pledged to only run its trains on rails with positive train control (PTC). PTC systems are designed to prevent a number of potentially deadly events, such as:
- Collisions with other trains
- Unauthorized entry into areas that should be blocked off (like work zones)
- Crashes or accidents related to misaligned tracks
Other factors that can affect the severity of a train accident
The condition of the railroad tracks can contribute to accidents, but there are a number of other factors that may also play a role:
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Excessive speeding
Poor maintenance of the trains:
- Broken signals
- Debris left on the tracks
- Faulty braking mechanisms
- Defective switches
- Overloaded cargo
- Mechanical failure
Poor weather conditions can also lead to train accidents, and inadequate or dangerous passenger areas – broken seats, cracked windows, missing hand straps – may also play a role. Negligence, intentional harm or a wrongful act by the engineer or the owner of the track puts passengers at an increased risk of accidents. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is prepared to investigate your claim and represent you in court, if necessary.
A quick note about aviation accidents
LAX served more than 18.5 million passengers in 2018, yet almost all recent news stories about plane crashes and aviation accidents involved smaller aircrafts flying out of smaller airports. This is no surprise given how many airfields – public, private and military – there are in the greater Los Angeles area.
If you have sustained injuries in a crash involving a plane, helicopter, or other type of aircraft, or were hurt in an airport or airfield, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP may be able to help you. We invite you to learn more about our services for aviation accident victims and to contact us with your questions.
Bus accidents in California
Buses, like trains, are common carriers: companies which transport goods and/or passengers. Under California law (CA Civ Code § 2100-2104, seq.):
- A carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.
- A carrier of persons for reward is bound to provide vehicles safe and fit for the purposes to which they are put, and is not excused for default in this respect by any degree of care.
- A carrier of persons for reward must not overcrowd or overload his vehicle.
- A carrier of persons for reward must give to passengers all such accommodations as are usual and reasonable, and must treat them with civility, and give them a reasonable degree of attention.
- A carrier of persons for reward must travel at a reasonable rate of speed, and without any unreasonable delay, or deviation from his proper route.”
Whether you board the Metro, DASH, Greyhound, a school bus, tour bus or shuttle, you are protected under the law and are entitled to a certain level of care from the owners and operators of those vehicles.
Common causes of LA bus accidents
Los Angeles is a nonstop city with busy roads. All of those extra vehicles increase your risk of getting into an accident, even when you are on a bus. The more common causes of Los Angeles bus accidents can include:
- Driver negligence, including distraction, driving while impaired, speeding and other reckless behaviors by the bus driver or by the driver of another vehicle.
- Defective parts, including defective brakes, steering, wheelchair lifts, opening and closing mechanisms for doors, and hand straps.
- Road defects, including improper or inadequate signage, broken lights, roads in disrepair, faulty road design and defective or missing guardrails.
What you should know about buses and seat belts
As children, we are taught to buckle up for safety, however, most buses are not equipped with seat belts.
Bus seats are designed to minimize injuries in the event of a crash. School buses in particular have high, padded seats made expressly for this purpose, though newer models do have restraint systems. While the seat design may be effective for a rear-end collision, it does not protect you or your children from sliding around if the bus is hit from the side. Moreover, the lack of seat belts may lead to serious, life-altering injuries if the bus rolls or flips over.
Who is liable for my injuries in a bus accident in Los Angeles?
If you are injured in a bus accident in Los Angeles, there could be multiple liable parties:
- The bus company
- The bus driver
- The driver of the other vehicle
- The bus manufacturer
- The school district
- The tour company
It is important to begin investigation right away when you sustain injuries in any kind of mass transit incident. State and federal government entities will have their own team of investigators, but you will need your own skilled professionals. The experienced catastrophic injury attorneys of McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP work with a team of mass transit experts, investigators and safety inspectors to ensure you get the accurate, timely and professional assistance you need.
Los Angeles mass transit injury lawyers you can trust
Planes, trains and buses make getting around easier, but they come with risks of real, life-threatening injuries. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has fought on behalf of mass transit accident victims for more than three decades. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles catastrophic injury attorney, please contact our office or call 310.474.1582.