The Duty of Georgia Passenger Train Operators as Common Carriers
While train accidents, including collisions with motor vehicles and derailments are relatively uncommon, commuter trains, Amtrak and other passenger railroad lines still become involved in accidents resulting in devastating injuries and fatalities. While any operator of a form of transportation owes a duty or reasonable care to passengers, train companies owe passengers a higher standard of care based on their status as a common carrier.
Common carriers are companies that provide mass transportation to the public at a fixed rate like railroad companies, bus carriers, cruise ships, subways and airlines. Common carriers are required to exercise the utmost care for the safety of patrons including compliance with state and federal safety laws, issuing appropriate safety warning, use of properly trained and qualified operators and reasonably well maintained equipment.
Although passenger train companies are not expected to function as a guarantor for the safety of passengers, they are expected to exercise an extremely high level of care to prevent injury to those who use their means of transportation. The public policy behind imposing this heightened duty of care is that passengers on trains literally entrust their safety to the railroad company. Passengers on trains and railroads essentially have no ability to provide for their own safety because the maintenance of the train, screening of the employees or operation of the train is exclusively within the control of the railroad transport company.
Despite the heightened obligation of care imposed on common carriers, there are exceptions to negligence based liability of common carriers so it is important to promptly seek legal advice. Common causes of passenger train accidents include the following:
• Operator Error (Engineer or Crew): The majority of train crashes and train derailments are caused by operator error, involving limited visibility, distractions, unsafe speed, drug or alcohol impairment and/or failure to comply with safety regulations.
• Non-Compliance with Safety Laws and Regulations: Both state and federal laws and regulations provide appropriate safety protocols to prevent train accidents.
• Lack of Maintenance of Train Equipment: Railroads that provide transportation based on fixed schedules and fees have an obligation to conduct inspections, perform routine maintenance, repair engines, adjust braking systems and maintain railroad crossing, track or other equipment.
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Common carriers are charged with the legal duty to safely transport patrons from the time they are accepted as passengers until the passengers have been safely delivered to their destination. When a train is derailed or crashes into a motor vehicle, catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths are a typical outcome. Montlick and Associates, Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys, has been representing those who suffer serious injuries for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.