A light rail accident is similar to many full sized train wrecks. There is usually a huge mismatch between the size of the vehicles involved, and people in either the train or passenger vehicle can be seriously hurt as a result. Many things can cause a train wreck, including error from the train operator, or the driver in the passenger vehicle. It is not always clear who is at fault following a wreck, so a victim may seek a legal representative to have on their side. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, a victim may be able to file a suit for compensation if the train operator or their company is at fault.
After a long battle among city council members and government representatives, the Houston Metrorail finally opened up at the beginning of 2004. Right away, the system was extremely popular among commuters and people living around the downtown area. However, the train was soon referred to as the “Wham Bam Tram,” because it was involved in a number of wrecks. It was so bad during the first year of operation that it was averaging 11 wrecks per mile, an absurdly high number. The national light rail accident rate is .55 per mile, so the derisive nickname was well deserved. While Metro blamed the incident rate on driver error, a study performed by Texas A&M University showed that signal timing was the primary cause of the high incident rates.
Even after these corrections, there are still several wrecks every year in downtown Houston, due to the train. While some of these are caused by driver error, maintenance and operator issues are also responsible much of the time. A passenger train is a dangerous weapon on the road when it is not kept at peak performance, and lapses in maintenance can cause the train to derail or fail to stop in time. This is particularly troublesome in downtown Houston, where the train travels through some of the busiest streets in the city. Traffic is always heavy in these areas, and because the train shares the lane with vehicle traffic in parts, the operator must react quickly if there is an obstruction. If the operator is not properly trained, not paying attention or otherwise impaired, he or she may cause a light rail accident.
Transit systems, including trains, are found in large cities around the country. These systems have the same problems as the passenger trains in Houston and cause many severe and fatal incidents every year. As a result, there are several lawsuits filed against transit companies by victims annually. In nearly all cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer is selected to represent the victim and help them file the suit. A personal injury lawyer can also help the victim put together a demand package detailing the cost of the injury and help gather information pertinent to the case. During the settlement and trial, (if the case reaches the trial phase) the lawyer will argue the victim’s case on their behalf in an attempt to secure the best outcome possible. The victim can use the compensation they are awarded to pay medical bills and replace lost wages. For this reason, an experienced personal injury lawyer is a valuable ally for anyone hurt in a train wreck.