In the Atlanta, Georgia, area and nationwide, train derailments tend to be newsworthy because of both their rareness and their severity. However, this wasn’t always the case. Up until about 1980, there were approximately 3,000 derailments per year in the U.S. alone. Nowadays, there are only about 500 due to safety and equipment upgrades, suggesting that while the problem has improved, it’s still not completely gone.

Some cargo train derailments might cause property damage where no one gets hurt, but many include fatalities and injuries. Recently, a New York-area train derailment ended the lives of four people on board and caused injuries to more than 60 other passengers. In Spain earlier this year, a train derailment, possibly due partially to excess speeding by the train operator, killed 80 people and injured 140.

In the latter case, negligence might have been a factor as video emerged of the train conductor zooming down the tracks at a clearly unsafe speed. Furthermore, inspection of his social media accounts showed a preoccupation with speed. Negligence can take many forms, whether it’s a careless or reckless train operator or a lazy manager who neglects to ensure that safety checks take place. It could be a cost-cutting company who uses substandard materials and unlicensed contractors to build and maintain their tracks.

Attorneys may be involved after a major disaster like a train derailment. They could be needed to ensure that the victims receive the compensation they’re owed for their injuries or for their family member’s death. They may construct a case strategy based on negligence or malfeasance. They may calculate the victim’s damages, like medical bills, lost income, reduced quality of life and lost property, in order to build a case to recover them.

Source: NJ.com, “Train derailments have drastically declined, but danger always there“, Mike Frasinelli, December 02, 2013