In January 2005, a freight train accident in Graniteville, South Carolina, caused a hazardous chemical spill that caused nine deaths, sent 550 people to hospitals and forced the evacuation of 5,400 people – the nation’s worst chemical accident from a train crash since 1978. This was one of 75 train accidents in the State of South Carolina in 2005.

The accident was caused when a manual track switch was left in the wrong position. After moving their train onto a sideline track, operators of the train failed to reset the manual switch so that another train would stay on the main line. Hours later, the train that was supposed to stay on the main line hit the parked train on the sideline and the chemicals were released. The spilled chlorine caused a gaseous cloud that hovered over the city through nightfall.

Millions of people ride trains every day in the United States. However, when trains are not maintained, or when reckless drivers try to beat the train across the tracks, a serious accident may occur.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, there is a train accident about every three hours in the U.S. Also, train accidents tend to be more dangerous, especially when you consider the weight and high speeds trains can reach. The most common causes of train accidents:

  • Collision with another train
  • Derailment
  • Collision with a car or bus
  • Mechanical failure that leads to an accident
  • Inadequate security on the train
  • Dated and unsuitably maintained tracks
  • Conductor Negligence

A train is considered a common carrier, so when a train accident has occurred, a train accident attorney can find out if the business is liable for the injuries and damages sustained. Common carriers have a responsibility to safely transport the public by taking all precautions to avoid a train accident.


  • Every year there are approximately 3,000 train accidents
  • Every year approximately 1,000 people will die as a result of train accidents
  • Almost every 2 weeks a train derailment causes a chemical spill, leading to evacuations of local residents – much like the Graniteville incident

Since there are many factors that lead to a railroad accident, there are many people who can be held responsible for your injury, loss of income, or pain and suffering, if you are injured in a train accident. While it is the responsibility of the railroad company to maintain the tracks and the train you ride, truck and car drivers also have the responsibility of following the laws and not trying to sneak pass the crossbars after they've been lowered.

There are laws that govern whether or not the carrier is liable. There are many factors that determine if the railroad company was at fault, and whether they could have prevented the accident and resulting injuries by exercising the proper care and maintenance. Also, if the carrier is found liable, in some states, there are even more factors to consider as to what percentage of liability they will have to assume.

The laws governing liability in the case of train accident and injury are extremely complex. It must be determined that the railroad company was, in fact, responsible for the accident and was acting in a negligent manner. If the railroad company is found responsible, it must then be determined to what extent they are liable.

While proving a physical, emotional, or cognitive injury can be difficult, the aid of a competent legal counsel can help you focus your attention on getting your life back to its normal state. If you have been injured in a train accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.

Call the Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC, today. You can reach JGLF at 843-CALL-JOE (843-225-5563), or contact JGLF via the online form.

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Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC (sometimes "JGLF") exclusively practices litigation, led by top rated trial attorney Joseph P. Griffith, Jr., a former federal prosecutor. Located at 946 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, Mt Pleasant, S.C., Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC handles cases in South Carolina and, on a select basis, nationwide.

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