America’s railroad network takes pride in hundreds of railroad lines with numerous tracks covering thousands of miles. Commuter trains and locomotives hauling freight cars pass through countless railroad crossings used by pedestrians, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and trucks. That means railroad accidents are inevitable.
If you or your loved one was injured or killed by a train, you need solid pieces of evidence to support your train accident claim. Note that you, the claimant, possess the burden of proving that you were injured because of someone’s negligence. You must prove to the railroad company’s insurance provider or the court that the railroad service provider was, indeed, at fault for the crash and that you sustained injuries as a result of that crash.
According to Pottroff & Karlin, a reputable law firm that handles railroad-related cases, the evidence is an integral part of a train accident claim. In train accidents, there are different types and pieces of evidence that must be considered. Train accidents can occur in many ways and to establish what happened and who to blame, the following types of evidence should be considered.
1. Onboard video
Most modern trains are fitted with cameras that capture all events taking place in front of the train. In case of any train accident, this video footage can be valuable evidence to the crash happened.
2. EDR (Event Data Recorder)
EDR is a device that records all train operations as they occur such as the use of horn, the speed of the train at all points of the track, and the use of breaks. Though the train engineers can lie about their performance, this device always gives accurate details. So, if the engineer didn’t take an appropriate action that could have prevented the crash, then, the EDR will provide the evidence you need to prove that.
3. Dispatch records
On busy rail tracks, there may be two or more trains heading in different directions. To prevent train collisions, dispatchers always keep detailed records of each train movement. Besides, each train engineer is still in constant communication with the dispatch team. If an accident occurs, the dispatch records become an essential piece of evidence to establish who was at fault; the engineer or the dispatcher.
4. Railroad maintenance records
One of the leading causes of railroad accidents is the improper maintenance of train, grade crossings, and rail tracks. All trains and every element of rail transportation must be inspected and serviced regularly to ensure that they are working correctly. When an accident occurs, railroad maintenance records can help determine whether improper maintenance or other factors caused the crash.
Other important types of evidence in train accidents include rail track profiles, OSHA report, police report, and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) report. Besides, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigations major train accidents and releases a comprehensive report. This report could be used in court to determine who was at fault.
Just because reputable federal agencies such as NTSB and FRA are investigating a railroad crash doesn’t mean you can sit back and watch your train accident claim get approved automatically. It’s your responsibility to prove that the railroad company was at fault. That’s where services of an experienced railroad attorney come in.