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Train accidents involving cars, trucks, pedestrians on the rise

The number of people injured in accidents involving trains in Colorado is on the rise thanks to both the state’s growing population and an increase in the amount of train traffic.

Accidents involving trains can involve mechanical problems or collisions with pedestrians, cars or tractor-trailers. Here are a few recent examples:

  • A car and a freight train collided at a Denver intersection on Oct. 25, 2018. The driver of the vehicle was hospitalized for injuries that were not considered life threatening.
  • A light rail train hit a vehicle in downtown Denver on Oct. 17, 2018. There were no injuries but the accident caused major traffic delays.
  • A crashed on Aug. 24, 2018, when the trailer was caught on the tracks at Weld County Road 2 as the crossing guard went down. The truck driver tried to back the trailer over the tracks but the train hit the middle of the dump trailer. No one was injured but the road was closed most of the day.
  • A 68-year-old Thornton man and his 16-year-old son were killed in an accident between a car and a train on May 15, 2018, on U.S. Highway 85 in Douglas County. The vehicle was dragged 1,500 feet after the train hit it while traveling 40 mph.

A review of Federal Railroad Administration data shows 62 accidents between a train and a vehicle or pedestrian between 2015 and 2017 that resulted in 11 deaths and 28 people injured.

Track failure, operator error

Those numbers include derailments, which can injure or kill people but are usually caused by track failure or when train operators fail to comply with rules or improperly operate trains and equipment.

In fact, because there may be different railroads responsible for the track, train and personnel, as well as different government entities responsible for the road or rail crossing, multiple insurance companies may be involved in any claims.

However, determining whether engineer error, track malfunction or actions by the driver or pedestrian caused the crash are key elements when considering whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate.

State conducts an investigation

After a rail accident, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Transit and Rail will conduct a thorough investigation. The results of that investigation will guide the decision on whether to pursue a lawsuit.

As with many personal injury lawsuits, you may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Disability
  • Lost wages
  • Medical costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma.

Colorado does have caps on wrongful death claims, non-economic damages like emotional trauma, and punitive damages.

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