Following train accident or derailment, many different types and forms of evidence are collected. This evidence helps determine liability and the true cause of the incident. The evidence collection process is conducted by federal and local authorities. Once their investigation is complete, the victims and their attorneys will have access to the reports and collected evidence.
On the morning of December 18, 2017, an Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailed near DuPont, Washington. More than 70 people were reportedly injured and three individual lost their lives as a result. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation as of this blog post. However, we do know that the train was traveling 50mph over the speed limit and the engineer never hit the emergency brakes.
Thanks to modern technology, the events leading up to the derailment can be recreated through evidence. Here are several types of evidence that can be used to investigate a train accident:
Trains, train cars, and even the rails must be regularly maintained. This is especially true in the wet, winter climate of the Pacific Northwest. If the operator of the train did not adhere to regular maintenance procedures, it’s only a matter of time before an accident will occur.
Passenger & Witness Interviews
The train engineer and crew will be interviewed by investigators. The two-way radio communication records from the train engineer to the dispatch office will also be looked at. The engineer is in constant contact with the dispatch office when operating the train and the conversations they have are being recorded.
Passengers of the derailed train will also be interviewed. Nowadays, everyone has a smart phone and investigators will comb over the hundreds of pictures and videos they collect from the passengers and witnesses who might have recorded anything useful.
Event Data Recorder
Much like the black box on an airplane, trains carry event data recorders. These devices continually log multiple parameters such as train speed, GPS data, brakes and even horn usage. The data is compared to statements given by the train engineer. Taking the verbal statements given by the train engineer and crew, the data from the event data recorder can be matched up to see if they are telling the truth.
Most trains nowadays are fitted with forward-facing video recording devices. After reviewing the data, investigators will be able to see if there were any obstructions on the track prior to the accident.
Train companies create manuals and safety policies that the engineers and crew must follow. The train company could be liable if they did not properly train their employees. They can also be liable if they did not properly instruct, monitor or retrain employees who broke the rules.
Washington Train Accident Attorneys in Seattle & Tacoma
If you’ve been injured in a train accident, contact an experienced Washington personal injury attorney immediately. Train derailments can be very complicated to litigate, and you need a law firm that will stand by your side and advocate for your rights.
At Herrmann Law Group, our compassionate attorneys will help guide you through the complex process of filing a claim and work hard to ensure that you get the justice that you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.