Our Train Crash Cases

Our Train Crash Cases

The firm’s train crash attorneys have represented over 85 victims in train derailments, train collisions, train accidents at-grade-crossings, FELA-railroad employee injury claims, and incidents involving Amtrak, Conrail, MARC and Metrolink.


Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 derailed on an overpass in DuPont, Washington, resulting in three deaths and dozens of injuries. Seven train cars flew off the overpass and came to rest on Interstate 5, one of the busiest highways in the state. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the train was traveling nearly 80 miles per hour at the time of the derailment, nearly 50 miles per hour over the speed limit.

The Amtrak 188 train wreck occurred when the train went into a curve going over 100 mph, where the posted speed limit was 50 mph, causing a derailment with three of the cars rolling onto their sides. As a result of this train crash, eight people died and over 200 were injured. The initial investigation found that although the tracks had been installed with Positive Train Control (PTC) which would have automatically slowed the speeding train and prevented the train crash, the PTC was not yet operational because of budgetary issues bureaucratic red tape. Apparently, Amtrak had been negotiating unsuccessfully with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for years in an attempt to purchase the airwaves needed to use PTC. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and our firm, are still investigating the causes of the train accident. We are currently representing eight people injured in the train crash.

The terrible and preventable Chatsworth Metrolink train crash occurred when the operator of a commuter train was distracted and texting on his cell phone, causing him to run a red stop signal and continue onto a track where a freight train was traveling. The Metrolink engineer was too distracted to apply his brakes and even though the freight train engineer did apply the emergency air brake, it wasn’t enough to stop the head-on train accident and both trains suffered a derailment. 25 deaths and 135 injuries resulted from the train crash and new bans against using cell phones while operating a train or car came into effect across the nation. Our argument in favor of Positive Train Control was met with public support and the debate over its funding intensified. Baum Hedlund represented eight passengers, both injured and killed, in this train wreck.

The Glendale Metrolink train crash took place after a man left his SUV on the tracks in a botched suicide attempt. The Metrolink train was in the push position of its push-pull system, meaning that the locomotive was at the rear of the train and a passenger car, filled with people, was at the front. When the unprotected passenger car struck the abandoned vehicle, it crumpled on impact and prompted the train derailment. The train then jackknifed and struck two other nearby trains, one a stationary freight train and the other a passing northbound train, which subsequently, also derailed its rear cars. In total, there were 11 deaths and 177 injuries reported. This train crash spurred the debate on the efficacy of the push-pull configuration and led to Metrolink no longer allowing passengers to sit in the first car of a train, often called a “coffin car,” if it is being pushed. Our firm handled the cases of 16 passengers, both injured and killed, in this train crash.

Our firm has long advocated the idea that a push-pull system is inherently unsafe, creating a situation that is basically a train wreck waiting to happen. In our commitment to eradicating this dangerous system, one of our attorneys, Paul Hedlund, also a mechanical engineer, testified before the California State Assembly which was convened to investigate rail safety concerns and the dangers of pushing passenger trains, in addition to passenger train crash worthiness. Mr. Hedlund explained the many problems with pushing the far lighter and less crashworthy passenger cars in front of the heavier and sturdier locomotive. We believe that most, if not all, of the deaths and serious injuries that were received in this train accident could have been prevented if the passengers had been pulled behind the protective locomotive.

A shift in the rail caused this train accident that resulted in one fatality and several injuries. The Canadian National Railway Company was found at fault for failing to properly inspect and maintain the track. Canadian National replaced a section of track during the winter which needed to be two inches longer due to the rail’s contraction during cold weather. Although the extra rail was supposed to be removed before warm weather made the track expand again, it was not. A post train crash examination also found that 50% of the rail anchors were ineffective. Several Canadian National employees also failed to inspect the rail properly and report these issues on multiple occasions before the train accident. In the wake of this train wreck, the FRA was criticized for its lack of oversight and emergency preparedness training. The Canadian National Railway Company was also asked to establish an audit program to verify that its employees were following proper procedures. Our law firm represented the family of the only person that died as a result of this train accident.

A train accident lead to the death of one person along with 96 injuries when the train crossed a section of rail that broke beneath it. The broken rail caused the train to derail with the cars uncoupling from the lead locomotive. The section of broken rail that instigated the train wreck was put in place a month prior due to a scan showing multiple internal defects in the previous rail. However, the replacement rail was never given an ultrasonic test and was later found to have multiple internal defects as well. After this train accident, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway were urged to adopt a comprehensive method for detecting internal defects in replacement rail segments. Baum Hedlund handled the case for the family of the only fatality in this train crash.

A MARC commuter train collided with an Amtrak passenger train after the crew did not take notice of an approach signal. The MARC crew’s failure to slow the train at the light made it impossible for them to stop the train at the following red signal. The train wreck caused 11 deaths, all on the MARC train, and 26 injuries. Several deaths and injuries were attributed to the fire that started when the Amtrak train’s fuel tanks were ruptured and emergency responders were unable to open the doors on the lead MARC passenger car, while passengers were also unable to break windows to escape. Afterward, CSX and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) were heavily criticized for removing a second signal that would likely have been seen and for not having any kind of Positive Train Control system in place to slow the train that failed to

obey the light. The Federal Railroad Administration also issued new rules for passenger railcar design that required the cars be built to higher crashworthiness standards with increased ability for emergency exiting. Our firm represented six passengers, both injured and killed, in this train wreck.

A section of flattened rail allowed the wheels of the third of 15 railcars to come off the track. The train continued for three miles before the rest of the train was derailed with some of the cars proceeding to slide down an embankment. 118 people were injured in the train accident but there were no fatalities. The NTSB noted that there were no industry guidelines in place to address flattened rail head conditions, due to a lack of understanding about how such dangerous conditions could contribute to a train accident. Our firm represented two passengers in this train crash.

A barge pilot became disoriented in heavy fog and struck the partially unfinished railway bridge over the Big Bayou Canot, which caused the track to kink and move about three feet out of alignment. While the damage done by the barge did move the tracks, none of the rail was actually broken, so the track circuit did not register the problem and the signal for the train to proceed unheeded remained green. When the Sunset Limited train reached the kink, it derailed. The speed and force of the train crash caused the locomotive to slam into the gap in the rails so hard that the bridge collapsed and took the rest of the train down into the water. Upon impact the train crash caused the locomotive’s fuel tanks to rupture and then explode into flame. Forty-seven deaths were caused by either drowning or smoke inhalation from the fire while an additional 103 people were harmed in this terrible train accident. Afterward, the NTSB made suggestions that both barge companies and the U.S. Coast Guard needed to institute higher standards for the licensing and competency of inland towing vessel operators. The NTSB also stated the need for a national risk assessment program to identify bridges vulnerable to collision damage from marine vessels. Our firm was hired to represent 22 passengers, both injured and killed, in this tragedy.

Two trains, operating opposite routes going to and from South Bend, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois, collided when the driver of one train failed to stop at a signal and blocked part of the other train’s tracks at an intersection point. The train crash was made worse by the fact that the other train’s engineer failed to apply any brakes before the collision, despite the crew’s repeated warnings. As a result of this train accident, seven people died and approximately 95 people reported injuries. Our law firm represented three passengers who were harmed.

An elderly man was struck and killed in a train accident while he was attempting to cross the railroad tracks in his pickup truck. About 90 boxcars had been left on the adjoining tracks for several months, making it impossible to see the oncoming train when attempting to cross the tracks from the nearby private drive.

The switch at the Orlon crossover in Camden, South Carolina was improperly assembled and none of the many inspections, including one the day before the train accident, noted the apparent deficiencies. When the Silver Star train passed over the crossing, the connecting rod of the track switch disengaged, causing the switch to change the track configuration and the last six cars of the train still passing over the crossing to suffer derailment. The derailed cars then sideswiped several, stationary freight cars nearby and were torn apart in the process. As a result of the train crash, eight died and 77 were injured, and CSX’s inspections and maintenance were deemed inadequate for not giving its inspectors enough time to perform their duties, nor enough oversight in making sure they are done properly. Our law firm represented five injured passengers from this train wreck.

The Conrail crew had marijuana in their systems and did not slow at several traffic signals, eventually making it impossible for them to stop at a red light for the Amtrak train to pass. When the Conrail crew realized they did not have a signal to proceed they applied the emergency brake but only succeeded in stopping their train directly in the path of the Amtrak train. In the resulting train wreck, a total of 16 people died and 164 were injured. Now, all Northeast corridor locomotives have automatic cab signaling with an automatic train stop feature and harsher anti-drug and driver certification laws were enacted for all employees in DOT “safety-sensitive” jobs. Our law firm represented one passenger in this train crash.

Freight Train vs. Worker, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1990 CSX Transportation Coal Train Derailment, Ellicott City, Maryland, 2012