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The Duty of Common Carriers

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by Congress as a part of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. Today, the DOT remains a vital part of the infrastructure of the United States. The DOT comprises a number of bureaus designed to promote and maintain safety and efficiency in travel and transportation throughout the nation.

The DOT is responsible for the regulation of equipment, licensing and transportation. The Department of Transportation Act of 1966 also created the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The responsibilities of the FRA include overseeing all railroad operations and enforcing railroad safety regulations. The FRA sets forth regulations specific to common carriers.

Pursuant to the Interstate Commerce Act, Congress has the authority to regulate the activities of all common carriers that transport cargo or passengers across state lines. Common carriers are entities which use defined routes and schedules to transport people and goods. Common carriers include railways, airlines, bus companies, cruise ships and trucking companies. One example of a common carrier is the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). The MBTA was established in 1964 to function as the official mass transit system for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Today, the MBTA serves a growing list of Massachusetts cities, towns and municipalities and also offers subway, train, bus, commuter rail and ferry services for public usage.

Federal law imposes on common carriers a heightened duty of care to ensure that their passengers and cargo safely reach their destinations. The law also holds carriers liable for injuries to passengers that occur during transportation, if exercising greater care could have prevented those injuries. These federal laws take precedence. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, however, regulates the public transportation systems which operate exclusively within the borders of the state.

Unfortunately, most individuals do not have the resources or comprehension of Massachusetts and federal laws to succeed in making sizeable railroad companies assume responsibility for their negligent or reckless conduct. You must protect your legal rights after a life changing train accident. The Boston train accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates understand the many complex laws in the highly regulated train industry, and have the experience, skill and resources to evaluate and handle your Massachusetts train accident case from start to finish. Call our Boston train accident lawyers today at 617-787-3700 or email us at to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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Liability with Respect to Train Accidents

For a given train accident, numerous factors, as well as multiple individuals, may have played a contributing role. For this reason, there are many individuals who may be held legally responsible for injuries sustained by victims of train accidents. Since injured parties bear the responsibility of identifying all the responsible parties, it is crucial to understand who may be liable under the law. Train companies, train conductors and operators, maintenance companies, commuter rail authorities, trespassers, construction firms, design firms and engineering firms are some potential parties that may be liable for injuries sustained in accidents arising from subway, train, trolley or light rail collisions.

When a train accident injures passengers onboard, the injured parties may have a claim for negligence against the train operator and railway owner. If the train accident was caused by a malfunctioning or defective train or railway part, Massachusetts product liability laws may also permit the injured parties to pursue a claim against the companies that manufactured, sold, installed, repaired or serviced the part.

If a court finds that an agent of a railway or the company itself was negligent in causing the train accident, and the accident resulted in injuries or wrongful death, passengers and their family members may be eligible for financial compensation for their medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. In Massachusetts, if an injury or wrongful death occurs because a train company failed to follow federal or state safety laws, the court may find that the violation of such laws is evidence of negligence, and find the company absolutely liable for any injuries sustained.

Common carriers also have a duty to warn passengers of possible dangers or hazards of which it is aware. If the danger should be obvious to passengers, such as the risks of not remaining seated while a train is in motion, the carrier may only be partially liable, or not at all, for any resulting injuries. However, if a risk is less obvious, such as inadequately maintained train equipment that poses a potential threat to riders, and the carrier fails to disclose this hazard, courts will most likely find them liable. Drivers also have a duty to follow all laws governing crossing railroad tracks.

Additionally, personal injury claims may be brought against individuals who trespass on railroad property and thereby cause train crashes and railroad accidents resulting in injuries and wrongful death. In some cases, trespassers may also face criminal prosecution.

Federal Employers' Liability Act

More than sixty percent of all injuries sustained in train or railroad accidents are suffered by the employees of the common carrier. In addition to Massachusetts state laws and worker’s compensation programs, railroad employees who are injured on the job are afforded protection by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

FELA was enacted in 1908 with hopes of improving railway safety during a time when the railroad industry was booming. FELA allows railroad employees, who are injured in train accidents, to pursue claims for monetary damages from their employers, when the employers’ negligence or the negligence of another railroad employee caused injuries. In order for FELA to apply, the injured employee must demonstrate that some act or omission on the part of the railroad, contributed to the injury that was suffered. FELA allows injured employees to bypass worker’s compensation programs, which are usually the sole remedy in cases involving work-related injuries. Punitive damages, which employees are not entitled to under worker’s compensation laws, are available to injured railroad employees under FELA.

FELA applies to train and railway accidents which occur in the scope of the injured worker’s employment with a railroad company. In order for FELA to apply, the railroad must be engaged in interstate commerce between two or more states and must also have contributed to the injuries sustained by the worker. The injured employee will have to show a failure on the part of the railroad to provide a safe work place. If successful, FELA allows the worker to be eligible to recover monetary compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering and emotional distress. FELA also provides financial compensation for survivors of a deceased train company employee.

If you have been hurt in a Massachusetts train accident or have lost a loved one in a Massachusetts train collision, the Boston train accident attorneys and Boston wrongful death lawyers at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates can help you protect your legal rights. Our highly skilled, expert and experienced Boston train wreck lawyers have assisted many train accident victims and their families. Our lawyers would be honored to help you.

Our Boston Train Accident Lawyer Specialists Are Available 24/7 at 617-787-3700. Please Do Not Hesitate. Call Our Massachusetts Train Crash Attorney Experts Today. Your Needs Are Our Top Priority!

If You or a Loved One Has Been Injured in a Massachusetts Train Accident, You Need an Expert Boston, MA Train Accident Lawyer To Help You. Call the Massachusetts Train Wreck Attorney Specialists at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates Today at 617-787-3700 or E-mail Us at












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