October 2, 2012—Hanford, CA—Witnesses described a “chaotic scene” after an Amtrak train collided with a semi truck on Monday and derailed, according to KRCA News.
The accident took place when two cars and an engine on the Amtrak train, carrying 169 passengers, collided with a semi tractor trailer rig that was attempting to cross a signaled crossroad. Witnesses on the train said that they could see the driver attempting to “beat” the train across, realize he could not make it, and try to apply the brakes. The train struck the truck, nearly demolishing the trailer portion, some of which ended up inside the train. Amazingly, the truck driver suffered only minor injuries.
The train continued moving at least 600 feet down the tracks where it collided with a switchback and derailed. At least 20 passengers received some degree of injury, although broken bones seemed to be the most serious. The injured passengers were transported to local hospitals, and others received first aid treatment at the site of the crash. No fatalities were reported, and early reports indicated no serious injuries.
Train Crashes and Big Truck Crashes Less Common Than Other Types
Crashes between semis and cars are relatively rare, and crashes between trains and vehicles are even less common. Therefore, a crash between a train and a semi truck is one of the most rare types of crashes of all. However, it is inevitable that crashes between all types of vehicles will happen at some point, and semi truck accidents are often particularly deadly. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 98 percent of all semi truck accidents result in a fatality, so the combination of this accident with its lack of fatalities and the fact that a train was involved make it quite different from most large truck collisions.
Liability Issues for Trains and Large Trucks Involved in Collisions
One unique feature of a large truck/train collision is that it is very likely that both owners of the respective vehicles are not individuals, as is usual with cars, but companies or agencies instead. In that case, the victims who are affected by the collision may find that filing claims for damages may not be as simple as it would be if the crash had occurred between two private car owners.
For one thing, suing a trucking company can be complicated because the parent company may be out-of-state, the driver may not be a California native, and the only thing tying the company and driver to the state is the location of the accident. It is also very possible that there is yet another layer of liability between the driver and the trucking company owner if the driver is simply contracted to deliver goods for the company and not a full-time employee.
A professional California car accident attorney can help you untangle the problems of liability if you are involved in a complicated collision.
Source: KCRA News, “‘Chaotic scene’ after Amtrak train, big rig collide,” Staff Writers, October 2, 2012.