When Trains Derail

Who is liable for damages when an act of God contributes to the cause of an accident?  A San Franciso train called “The Altamont Corridor Express” (ACE) was impacted by intense flooding in the area.  This train ran on the Union Pacific Railroad, a popular commuter line that transports approximately six thousand individuals daily.  Prior to and at the time of the accident, there were downpours that lead to mudslides throughout this area.  One report said that a tree was thrust onto the railway by the mudslide.

Just before the calamity, the train was “traveling near Niles Canyon Road between the cities of Fremont and Sunol” and was moving towards Stockton, California.  The train had recently left San Jose at approximately forty minutes after six in the evening.  It held approximately two hundred and fourteen passengers, but thankfully, no deaths resulted.  As the force of the mudslide derailed the front train carts, the first car plunged “down a 40-foot embankment into Alameda Creek.”  Another car was also derailed, but did not fall over.

The train remained partially afloat while passengers were escorted out of the car.  “Crews had to fight the creek’s currents to pull riders from the partially submerged rail car,” another reported.  Those rescued were sent to nearby emergency facilities, such as Washington Hospital and Eden Medical Center.  However, there were a number of conflicting reports regarding the number of individuals injured.  Astoundingly, only nine were wounded in this catastrophic incident.  Four of the nine individuals sustained serious injuries and most received medical treatment at the time and place of the accident.  The train was extracted out of the water and placed back on the rail line by emergency teams.

Many questions arise from this type of unfortunate event.  Should the trains have been running during such bad weather?  Was the car over its maximum occupancy?  Did first responders resolve the emergency appropriately?  Did the conductor respond adequately?

If you were injured in a train accident in Northern or Southern California, the law firm of J&Y can  evaluate the circumstances and duties of each party and determine whether any legal remedies are available to you.