A train derailment occurs when the train runs off its rails.  Train derailments are potentially seriously hazardous to human health and safety.  Railroads should do everything they can to protect their passengers but unfortunately many times they put profits first. If  equipment is not properly maintained and operated, then derailments can occur.  The destruction from a derailment can include massive amounts of property and building damage as well as injuries and death to passengers.

Common causes of derailment are:

  • Human error on part of the conductor (improper observance of signals)
  • Equipment malfunction (poor maintenance for example broken rails or excessive wear of wheels or rails)
  • Mechanical failure of the train (axlebox failure)
  • Signal Failures
  • As a secondary event following collision with other trains, road vehicles, or other obstructions
  • Train handling  (snatches due to sudden traction or braking forces, referred to as slack action in North America)

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966) categorizes derailments differently the main groupings are given here:

  • Rail, joint bar and anchoring
  • Track geometry defect
  • General switching rules
  • Wheels
  • Axles and journal bearings
  • Switches
  • Frogs, switches and track appliances
  • Bogie (truck) components
  • Train handling / train make-up
  • Highway rail grading

If you or a loved one has been injured by a train derailment call Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC - The Heavy Hitters Today! at 800-LAW-0804 (800-529-0804).


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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, you are devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At this difficult time, you need an experienced team that will support you through your road to recovery. Call Tatum & Atkinson today!