Train Accidents

With over $1.5 billion invested annually, Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country in direct support for public transportation. All 67 counties have access to public transit, but two of the major players in this area are SEPTA and PATCO. Billed as convenient and affordable, these transit options also present safety issues and are often in the news for yet another accident. Injuries and fatalities have occurred involving a wide variety of people, including transit passengers, transit operators, motorists, and pedestrians.

If you have been injured in a transit accident, or if such an accident has proven injurious or fatal to someone you love, a train accident lawyer at Wapner Newman can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. You may be able to file a claim to recover your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, loss of current and future earnings, loss of future enjoyment, and pain and suffering.


Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has the country’s sixth-largest rapid transit system by ridership and fifth-largest overall transit system. Headquartered in Center City, it is one of only two transit authorities in the United States that operates all of the five major types of ground transit: commuter rail trains, subway/elevated trains, light rail vehicles (trolleys), trolley buses (trackless trolleys), and motorbuses.

Bigger doesn’t necessarily translate into safer. In the fall of 2016 alone, SEPTA transit accidents included:

  • A woman who was crossing the street at 23rd and Chestnut was fatally struck by a SEPTA bus.
  • A man was struck and killed by a SEPTA train along the Norristown High Speed Line in Radnor.
  • A person was struck and killed by a SEPTA train on the Media Elwyn Regional Rail line at the Angora station.
  • A man was fatally struck by a Route 36 SEPTA trolley at Island Avenue and Lindbergh Boulevard.
  • A blind man was fatally struck by a subway on SEPTA’s Broad Street Line at the Race-Vine Station.


Running 24 hours a day, the PATCO high speed line is a rapid transit system connecting Philly and Camden County, New Jersey. Managed by a subset of the Delaware River Port Authority, PATCO has a daily ridership of 38,000 people. Significantly smaller than SEPTA’s sprawling services, its operation hasn’t been without incident. For example, an elderly man was struck and killed by a PATCO train at the Woodcrest Station in June. The Woodcrest Station was also the site of an accident in May when a PATCO worker’s truck flipped over onto the tracks, injuring him. If you or a loved one have been involved in a similar incident, you may want to seek legal advice from experienced truck accident lawyers in Philadelphia. A woman was killed in 2014 when she was struck on the track by a PATCO high speed line train at the 8th and Market streets station.

What Are Some Causes of Train Accidents?

So, why do these accidents happen? There are many reasons — such as defective equipment, operator mistake, improper maintenance, mechanical failure, and inspection violations. The lack of safety restraints means that passengers are more likely to be injured when transit vehicles abruptly stop, suddenly start, or move in unexpected ways. Transit vehicles are typically found in areas with a lot of pedestrians, increasing the risk that someone might be hit.

Earlier this year, structural failures found in a third of SEPTA’s train fleet forced more than 100 cars off the tracks for months. A crack in a weight-bearing beam on a train car’s undercarriage was discovered on almost all of SEPTA’s Silverliner V’s, the newest trains in its Regional Rail fleet. An inspector stumbled upon the flaw in one train car, leading engineers to find fatigue cracks at similarly welded places on other cars. According to SEPTA’s general manager, pressure between cars was holding the beam together tightly, but if the beam had given out while a train was in motion, a serious accident – even a derailment – could have resulted.

A recent strike highlighted another common problem: overworked employees. Rest periods and breaks for union members that operate SEPTA’s buses, trolleys, and subways were a sticking point in negotiations. With many transit drivers working 12-hour swing shifts but living too far away from home to nap during their breaks, driver fatigue and its effect on traffic safety is an obvious concern.

Our Train Accident Attorneys Can Help

While the hundreds of local transit vehicles operate daily without incident, when they are involved in accidents with other vehicles or with pedestrians, they can cause significant damage. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a transit accident, trust your case to an experienced train accident lawyer. We have the resources and experience to fight for you. For almost four decades, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-529-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form. Let us help you.