Recent Railroad Accidents Raise Questions Regarding the Safety of Brightline Trains in South Florida

A series of passenger railroad accidents in South Florida is causing many to question the safety of the new Brightline high-speed passenger rail that recently began service between Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on January 13th with plans to eventually extend the high speed train service to Miami and as far north as Orlando.  In the most recent accident, on January 20th, a pedestrian in Ft. Lauderdale was struck and injured when attempting to beat the train after the gates at a railroad crossing were already down and the lights were flashing.  The man was transported to a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital with non-life threatening injuries after police and first responders arrived at the scene of the accident.  This incident followed closely on the heels of two deaths at railroad crossings less than half a mile apart in Boynton Beach on January 12th and 17th when Brightline trains struck and killed individuals in separate incidents. The first of those incidents occurred when a 32 year old pedestrian crossed the tracks after the warning gates were already down, while the second involved a bicyclist who pedaled around the gates as a Brightline train approached.  In total, 16 fatalities occurred along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks that stretch from Miami to Jacksonville that are used by both the Brightline trains as well as freight trains in 2017 according to another report.  Although many of these accidents do not point to negligence by the commuter or freight trains, it does raise possible questions regarding the safety of the commuter rail line as well as trains more generally in densely populated South Florida.

Prior Safety Issues Involving Brightline Trains

Although Brightline trains only recently started service, the passenger railroad line faced serious safety concerns well before it actually began offering passenger service on January 13th.  Brightline trains had been performing test runs between Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach since January 2017, a period during which several more fatalities occurred.  In an accident in Broward County in November 2017, a 35 year old woman was killed by a Brightline train that was performing test runs. In July 2017, another woman was hit and killed by a Brightline train in Boca Raton.  However, this July accident was believed by Boca Raton Police to be a suicide according to a report from the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

The Catastrophic Nature of Railroad Accidents

Railroad accidents often involve serious injuries or fatalities. Trains are extremely large and heavy, travel at high speeds and therefore can cause catastrophic injuries or fatalities in a crash.  The Brightline trains that have killed four since July 2017 can reach speeds of up to 79 mph south of West Palm Beach and up to 110 mph north of Palm Beach County.  This is particularly true when the crash involves a pedestrian or someone who is not in a vehicle, as was the case in several of the recent Brightline train fatalities.  However, even when a car is involved, which at least offers some protection against the destructive force of a train, victims of a railroad accident often still suffer horrific injuries or death.  For those lucky enough to survive, the devastating injuries from a railroad crash can often result in life-altering conditions that radically change the victim and the victim’s family forever.  In addition to the physical pain and emotional suffering, Florida railroad accident victims and their families face enormous medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, funeral costs, and other economic losses. While many of the recent fatalities don’t appear to show negligence by the Brightline Train company, it’s important to know your rights if there would be a warning gate malfunction or something worse.

Contact Schwed, Adams, and McGinley, P.A. if You Have Been Injured in a Florida Railroad Accident

At Schwed, Adams, and McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have hundreds of years of experience representing individuals who have been injured that resulted in a wrongful death or catastrophic injuries.  Trains travel at high speeds and are therefore extremely difficult to stop quickly, particularly if railroad employees are not paying attention as closely as they should.  When an accident involving a train occurs, it often results in serious injuries or death for those involved. If you or a loved one have been injured in a train accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams and McGinley, P.A. today at  877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com to schedule a free consultation regarding your situation.