Two Trains Crash Head-On In Germany, Killing Nine and Injuring Hundreds

By Mike Snellings, Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

I was saddened to read about the horrific train crash that occurred approximately 35 miles southeast of Munich, Germany early this morning that claimed 10 lives and left 17 in a critical condition. A safety system designed to prevent crashes along this stretch of track apparently failed. As a personal injury attorney, I have seen the devastation that can occur when there is an accident involving one or more extremely powerful trains.

John Cooper of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers talks about passenger train crashes

At approximately 7 a.m. local time, two Bayerische Oberlandbahn trains crashed in Bad Aibling, a spa town in southern Germany, Fox News reported. The trains were on a curve and unable to see each other to brake before the crash was imminent, according to German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrint.

Although it is unclear how fast the trains were traveling, Deutsche Bahn, another German rail operator, told the dpa news agency (a German press agency) that trains are permitted to travel up to 80 miles per hour on that stretch of track. The track around the curve had a safety system in place that was supposed to stop one train if another was approaching the curve. The reason the system failed remains unknown. Once the trains’ black boxes are recovered from the wreckage, some of these questions should be answered.

 The crash occurred in a very hilly, densely-wooded area. Emergency crews were unable to get to the crash site on the ground. As a result, the injured had to be airlifted or put on police boats to reach nearby ambulances for transport to the hospital. It took over five hours to remove all the injured passengers from the crash site.

Train crashes are often accompanied by numerous casualties due to the sheer mass of the train and the force with which it travels. In the past year, there have been numerous train accidents in the United States as well. For example, in May 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring 200. This train was also on a curve and exceeding speed limits, according to reports.

Human error was the suspected cause of the Philadelphia crash. Likewise a wreck on a Metro-North commuter train that killed four in 2013, was linked to the drowsiness of a driver who had an undetected sleep disorder.  In Spain a speeding driver who caused a crash that killed 80 people faces a criminal prosecution. In the US, experts have said the implementation of a delayed safety system called Positive Train Control (PTC) may have prevented the Philadelphia crash. However, the German crash seems to have been caused by a safety system malfunctioning. In cases like this the families of those who died or those who were injured, might have grounds to sue a system manufacturer or the railroad.

Millions of people use trains every day as their transportation to and from work and school. As a passenger aboard a train, you have the right to a safe ride on a train, and the train company is responsible for injuries you sustain as a result of the rail company failing to keep you safe. Please see the information on our website about train passenger injuries.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured passengers and their families. If you have been injured as a result of a train accident, please contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757-455-0077 for free, no obligation consultation.             

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