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How Do Train Accident Claims Work?

November 29, 2023

Train accident claims can help individuals facing extreme physical, emotional, and financial hardships after a train crash. Serious and fatal injuries sustained in train accidents can prove incredibly costly, and they can impact all aspects of victims’ and their family members’ lives. 

Fortunately, train accident victims and their families will be entitled to financial compensation in many cases. Victims and their families can file claims in a wide range of circumstances, and they can file claims based on a wide range of issues. While this is good news for many of those who are struggling to cope with the effects of a serious or fatal accident, it also means that understanding your legal rights can prove challenging. In this article, we explain how train accident claims work so that you can make informed decisions about your next steps. 

What You Need to Know About Filing Train Accident Claims in Illinois 

How do train accident claims work? Here is an overview of what you can expect as you move forward: 

1. Investigating the Accident 

The first step toward filing a claim after a train accident is to investigate the accident’s cause. Determining the cause of the accident will allow you (or your lawyer) to determine what company or government agency is responsible for the crash. 

Ideally, this investigation will take place as soon after the train accident as possible. While the company or government agency that operated the train will conduct an investigation, you will need to hire a lawyer to investigate with your (or your family’s) legal rights in mind. Companies and government agencies investigate train accidents for different reasons, and you need to make sure you have an unbiased understanding of why the accident happened and who (or what entity) is to blame. 

2. Determining What Claim(s) to File 

Train passengers who suffer accident-related injuries can generally file claims against the company or government agency that operated the train. While railroad employees who suffer injuries in train accidents have clear legal rights as well, they must generally file their claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which does not apply to passengers. In cases involving fatal train accidents, family members’ legal rights also depend on whether their loved one was a passenger or a railroad employee. 

While many train accidents will give rise to claims against the company or government agency that operated the train, there are also other possibilities. For example, the entity that owns the train tracks could be liable for a derailment, or a train manufacturer could be liable if an issue with the train triggered an unavoidable crash. 

In short, there are several possibilities. Once your lawyer investigates the accident, your lawyer will be able to determine which claim(s) you (or your family) needs to file.

3. Filing Your Claim(s) 

After assessing your (or your family’s) legal rights, your lawyer will file all viable claims. Train accident claims are complicated, and they are subject to different rules and deadlines depending on the laws that apply and the parties that are liable. Experienced legal representation is critical, and it is important to engage a law firm promptly to ensure that you do not run out of time to file. 

4. Negotiating for a Favorable Settlement 

After filing all viable claims, your lawyer will negotiate for a favorable settlement on your (or your family’s) behalf. Many successful train accident claims are resolved at this stage. Your lawyer will carefully calculate the financial and non-financial costs of the accident, and your lawyer will help you decide when (and if) to accept a settlement.

5. Going to Court if Necessary 

While many successful train accident claims result in settlements, a settlement is never guaranteed. If your (or your family’s) claim(s) do not result in a settlement, your lawyer will fight for fair compensation in court. This itself is a complicated process, and presenting a successful case in court requires years of relevant experience. As a result, it is important to choose a law firm that has specific experience representing train accident victims and their families at trial. 

Speak with a Train Accident Lawyer in Chicago or Oak Park, IL 

At Coplan + Crane, we have extensive experience representing train accident victims and families in Illinois. If you need help after a serious or fatal train accident, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. 

To speak with a train accident lawyer for FREE, call 312-982-0588 now. We help clients from across Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.