Railroad & Train Accidents

Extensive Rail Accident Experience

Railroad litigation usually involves high-stakes and complex facts. Claims range from accidents on the tracks to derailments  to railroad employee claims against the company. In our years of handling railroad-related accidents, including train accidents, we have handled these kinds of claims:

  • Derailments
  • Sudden-stop passenger injuries
  • Boarding injuries
  • Derailment cleanup accidents
  • Train collisions
  • Train-automobile collisions
  • Track damage claims
  • Track maintenance issues
  • Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) claims
  • Chemical spill cases
  • Toxic fume cases
  • Defective crossing guard accident claims
  • Emergency stop claims

We have substantial and successful handling of toxic releases as well as catastrophic derailments causing death and serious injuries, as well as occupational health and environmental claims. Our railroad lawyers have worked with and participated in investigations by state officials and the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Association, and technical experts regarding derailments.

Federal Preemption

We have experience litigating issues related to federal preemption, including familiarity with recent state and federal case law that determines the scope of federal preemption of railroad crossing guard claims. Our experience litigating federal preemption issues includes not only railroad-related rules, but also the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards as they pertain to crashworthiness of automobiles in such cases.

Container, Valve and Coupling Design

We have worked on cases in which the engineering aspects of train and component design were at issue, including the design of containers, valves and couplings. The firm’s founder, Brett Godfrey, has personally worked on the design of hazardous waste containers for rail cars and the procedures for transporting that hazardous material by rail when he worked as a chemical engineer at a chemical processing facility in Wyoming.

Track Maintenance and Sidetrack Agreements

We have studied and litigated the legal issues arising in connection with sidetrack and other railroad lease agreements, including the unique insurance exclusions that relate to this area of contractual apportionment of risk. We also have experience litigating issues arising under track maintenance agreements in the context of train accidents and track damage claims.

“Black Box” Analysis

We have studied and worked with experts in the analysis of black box data, that can often be used in the reconstruction of train accidents. The use of technical data in the reconstruction of train accidents requires not only an understanding of how the technology works, but its limitations as well. We have also worked on cases in which train accidents were actually reconstructed using real trains and automobiles.

Human Factors

The causes of railroad accidents are many and diverse, but generally tend to constitute a specialized body of knowledge that is necessary to have when handling railroad-related claims. We have handled a significant number of railroad accident claims and worked with a large number of railroad experts in the reconstruction of those claims, and from this experience we have obtained a comprehensive understanding of the various causes and issues that must be analyzed when studying a train accident.

The key to success in litigation is to be realistic and careful in terms of how a "win" is defined under the circumstances of any given dispute. No two cases are exactly alike. Remember that no attorney or firm can guarantee success according to any arbitrary standard or in terms of a favorable result at trial. Whether or not to try a case or settle a case is a decision a client makes with the advise of an attorney, and no attorney can guarantee anything about the outcome of a civil case. Any case, tried to a jury or a court, might be resolved unfavorably. Trials are inherently unpredictable. Statements contained on this website regarding the ability of the professionals at Godfrey | Johnson, P.C., are based upon good faith perceptions of our abilities demonstrated over years of practice, and are not intended to imply that the attorneys have never lost a case or that we can assure that any particular case will be won at trial or on motions. The best way to evaluate any case is to communicate about it in depth with qualified legal counsel, providing all relevant information to the attorney. It is dangerous to withhold facts from an attorney, and can lead to the delivery of legal advise that is fundamentally flawed. No attorney can prevent this from happening, as attorneys all must rely to some extent upon the information that is provided to them by their clients. The best way to evaluate an attorney is by that attorney's track record, and ours is open for discussion in any specific field. Our abilities as described on this website are based upon experience in actual cases, which have been successful more often than not. ©2015 Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. All rights reserved.