Travelling by train is one of the safest and fastest modes of transport in the UK, and fortunately, train accidents are rare. However, accidents do occasionally happen. These include slips, trips, and falls on trains and in railway stations and being hit by objects such as luggage falling from inadequate storage facilities. Although extremely rare, train crashes and derailments can also happen.
Whether you are a rail passenger or a member of staff, if you suffered an injury due to an accident that was not your fault, you might be able to claim compensation. A free consultation with a solicitor will let you know if your case has merit, whether you have been injured on a train, train station platform, or in a shop, cafe or bar.
Train injury compensation covers pain, suffering and all the financial losses and expenses caused by the accident. As a general rule, you have three years to take legal action from the date of the accident, but the time limit may vary in certain circumstances.
Am I eligible to make a train accident claim?
Railway companies and rail operators have a duty of care to keep premises safe and take all reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of staff and members of the public. If you suffered an injury in a train accident that was not your fault, you might be entitled to compensation.
Before accepting your rail accident claim, your solicitor will check whether:
- The other side owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty by committing an act of negligence
- That negligence led to a train accident
- You suffered an injury or injuries as a result
- Your accident took place in the last three years
As with all personal injury claims, you will need evidence to show how the accident happened, who might be responsible and what injuries you suffered. Your solicitor will help you gather everything you need to secure a strong claim for train injury compensation, which could include the following:
- Medical records. After your accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible by visiting your GP, attending the A&E department or a minor injuries unit. Your medical records will prove the type and severity of injuries you suffered, the treatments received and your recovery prospects.
- Witness statements. If anyone saw how your accident took place, you should ask for their contact details. If there is a liability dispute, your solicitor might contact them later for a statement.
- Photographic evidence. You should take photos of the accident scene capturing the cause of your accident and any visible injuries and damage to your items.
- Accident report forms. If you have had an accident on a train or at a train station, you should report it to a member of staff and make a further report to the company. You are entitled to receive a signed copy of the report to show the date and time of your accident.
- Financial evidence. You are entitled to claim compensation for all the financial losses and expenses caused by your train accident, but you must have proof such as receipts, invoices or bank statements.
Once you have everything you need to start your claim, your solicitor will contact the other side and inform them of your intention to file a train injury claim. If they admit liability, you can begin to negotiate a settlement. Otherwise, you may have to issue court proceedings and argue your claim before a judge.
To find out if you have valid grounds to make a train passenger claim, speak to a legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 or requesting a call back for a free consultation. They will let you know if you are eligible for train injury compensation and answer any questions you may have.
What are the most common accidents that lead to train injury claims?
Trains and train stations are often busy places, sometimes with thousands of passengers boarding or leaving at the same time. This high volume of foot traffic and other hazards can lead to many different accidents in train stations. The most common causes of a train passenger claim include the following:
- Slips, trips and falls – many hazards in trains and train stations can lead to a slip or trip injury. These include spillages, uneven surfaces, objects left in walkways and poor lighting.
- Faulty lifts or escalators – if you were injured while using a lift or escalator, you might be entitled to make a train accident claim. Common causes of injuries include unexpected failures, malfunction of emergency stop mechanisms, and broken or uneven surfaces.
- Falling objects and luggage on a train – insufficient, faulty or inappropriate luggage storage facilities can lead to falling objects from the overhead carriers.
- Food and drink-related accidents – the food and drinks served on trains and in the shops and bars in train stations could cause injuries such as allergic reactions, food poisoning, burns or scalds. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, retailers in train stations also have a duty of care towards you, and you could claim compensation if they breached this duty.
- Damaged furniture – broken seating, train furniture or faulty doors may cause severe cuts, lacerations, and other soft tissue injuries for which you could claim compensation.
- Train collisions and derailments – these could be due to poor maintenance of train tracks, hazards on tracks, adverse weather conditions, or failure of level crossing gates or signs. Such accidents rarely happen, but can cause some of the most severe train accident injuries.
- Crush injuries – crush injuries may occur if there are too many people in a train or station and you get squashed or trampled on. They may also be due to faulty doors that close too early or being trapped by a barrier when you check your ticket.
Rail employees could also make a train injury claim against their employer if they suffered a workplace accident or developed a work-related condition such as noise-induced hearing loss or an asbestos-related disease.
What type of injuries could I claim for?
The injuries you could suffer in a train accident range from minor to severe and even fatal. No two train accidents are the same, and the type and extent of your injuries will largely determine the train injury compensation you might be entitled to.
In general terms, you could claim for any injury sustained in a train or railway station, but the most common injuries resulting in a rail accident claim include:
- Soft tissue injuries, such as sprains, strains, cuts and lacerations;
- Head injuries, such as bumps, bruises, concussions and skull fractures;
- Brain injuries, some of which may lead to long-term or permanent motor, sensory or behavioural complications;
- Back injuries, such as sprains and strains, herniated or slipped discs and spinal fractures;
- Burn injuries caused by hot food or drinks, steam or friction;
- Food poisoning is usually not a severe illness but can sometimes cause long-term health problems such as kidney failure, arthritis and nerve damage;
- Spinal injuries are usually a medical emergency and may lead to paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control and even death;
- Leg injuries range from minor sprains, strains and lacerations to severe fractures, dislocations and traumatic amputations;
- Arm injuries, such as fractures and wrist, elbow or shoulder dislocations;
- Hip injuries can be due to slips, trips and falls or crush accidents, including fractures, dislocations, and hip sprains and strains.
If you suffered an injury in a train accident, you should seek immediate medical care. This will ensure you receive the appropriate treatment and that your condition will not worsen. Your medical records will also be essential evidence in your train accident claim.
Your solicitor may also arrange a free visit with an independent medical expert to assess the long-term or permanent effects of your injuries.
Who would be liable for a train accident claim?
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, your train injury claim could be made against:
- The train company – In the vast majority of cases, claims for train accident compensation are brought against train companies, as they have a duty of care to ensure that passengers are safe while travelling.
- The train manufacturers – When mechanical failure or other manufacturing defects are to blame for a train accident, the manufacturer may be held liable for the victim’s damages.
- The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) – If you suffered an injury in a train station due to an assault or another violent crime, you could claim compensation through the CICA within two years of the incident.
- A business owner – If you suffered an injury in a bar, shop or another privately-owned public place due to a breach of health and safety regulations.
- A negligent driver – If they ignored a railroad crossing sign or stopped on the train tracks, causing a collision.
- Another person – If, for example, they left their livestock unsupervised and an animal ended up on the railroad, causing an accident.
Besides the general duty we have to act in a way that does not endanger the health and safety of others, several pieces of legislation set out the duty of care on specific entities. For example:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation that employers must comply with to provide a safe working environment and prevent workers from suffering an accident;
- The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 states that the owners of a private business must take all reasonable measures to make sure that the premises are free of hazards and visitors are safe from risks.
At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will investigate your circumstances and work out who failed in their duty of care towards you. Sometimes, multiple parties may potentially be found responsible for your railroad accident.
Can I claim for an accident at a train station?
If you have been injured in an accident at a train station, you could be eligible for compensation. According to the Office of Rail and Road, there were 2,042 train accidents during 2020/21, a decrease of 70.5% compared with the previous year due to the pandemic.
In the same period, there were a total of 3,290 injuries to employees, a 38.4% decrease compared to the previous year. The number of assaults on members of the public and passengers also fell to 3,588, nearly half compared to the previous year.
Slips, trips and falls were the main cause of severe injuries to passengers, followed by platform edge incidents, contact with objects, and criminal assaults and abuse. Typical reasons for train station accidents include:
- Slippery platforms due to rain and snow
- Spillages that are not cleared up
- Tripping over objects and luggage left on walkways
- Litter and debris dropped on the floor
- Overcrowded platforms and escalators
- Potholes and other floor defects
To make a successful rail accident claim, your solicitor will need proof to show that the station operator failed in their duty of care to keep the train station well-maintained and safe for visitors. To help them build a strong train accident claim, it is a good idea to:
- Take photographs of the accident scene and your injuries
- Get the contact details of other passengers who may have witnessed the accident or were also injured
- Visit your GP, hospital or a minor injuries unit as soon as possible to have your injuries treated
- Report the accident to a member of staff and ask for a signed copy of the report
- Write down any details that may be relevant to the circumstances of your accident
- Keep your booking confirmation, ticket or receipts as proof of attendance
If you have a valid case, your solicitor will also help you collate evidence to support your claim for train injury compensation. They will also request CCTV footage to show how long the hazard that caused your injury was in place and how you sustained your injuries.
How much compensation could I claim for a train accident?
There is no set amount of compensation awarded in rail accident claims. At the start of legal proceedings, your solicitor will consider everything you went through to work out a fair settlement on your behalf.
In every personal injury claim, you can recover two types of damages:
Special damages are awarded for any financial losses and expenses you sustained as a result of the accident, such as:
- Costs of medical treatments, diagnostic tests and hospitalisation
- Counselling and physical therapy
- Adaptations to your home and vehicle to accommodate a disability
- Costs of care and assistance during recovery, even if provided by friends or family
- The cost of medical aids you might need, such as prostheses or a wheelchair
- Travel costs to and from appointments
- Lost earnings for any time taken off work as a result of your injuries
General damages are awarded based on the extent of your injuries and include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Physical and mental disability
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
- Loss of a unique career
- Loss of consortium or companionship
Train injury compensation for general damage can be anything from £1,000 to £100,000 or more, depending on the severity of your injuries. To work out a fair settlement, courts and solicitors refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College each year, according to which you could receive:
- £1,880 to £10,890 for a minor head injury with complete recovery within a few weeks
- £240,590 to £344,640 for a very severe brain injury that covers severe disability and vegetative states needing full-time nursing
- £15,320 to £26,010 for moderately severe face injuries such as a broken jaw or nose
- £7,410 to £47,760 for a moderate neck injury such as disc lesions, fractures or dislocations causing limitation of movement
- £2,090 to £10,670 for a minor back injury such as a sprain, strain or disc prolapse with recovery between three months and five years
- £36,390 to £151,070 for a severe back injury with spinal cord damage and permanent issues such as partial paralysis, impaired movement or arthritis
- £10,890 to £16,380 for shoulder injuries such as fractured humerus or clavicle
- £5,630 to £16,380 for a fractured forearm
- £82,040 to £255,930 for a severe arm injury that may include the amputation of one or both arms
- £10,750 to £33,430 for a moderate pelvis or hip injury that causes no significant disability
- £15,320 to £46,780 for moderate leg injuries such as minor fractures or severe soft tissue injuries leading to some degree of arthritis or instability
- £44,470 to £82,080 for a severe knee injury leading to constant pain and severe disability
What is the time limit to claim train accident compensation?
The Limitation Act 1980 sets out a three-year time limit to make a train injury claim after an accident that was not your fault. The last date you can file your claim is known as the claim limitation date. Once this date passes, you will no longer be eligible to claim, as your case is considered statute-barred.
In cases where symptoms do not become immediately apparent after an accident, the time limit to start a rail accident claim is three years from the date of knowledge. The date of knowledge is when you knew or should have known that you had a significant injury that could have been due to negligence.
The court has the authority to override the three-year limitation period when it is fair and reasonable to do, according to the length and reason for your delay. However, this authority is only exercised in exceptional circumstances, so it shouldn’t be relied upon.
The standard three-year time limit to claim train injury compensation does have a few exceptions:
- If the injured party is a child, the three-year countdown begins once they turn 18. Before that point, a parent or another person acting as a litigation friend could start legal proceedings at any time on their behalf.
- The time limit does not apply if the injured person does not have sufficient mental capacity to manage their case. This could be due to an injury caused by the accident itself or a condition that is pre-existing, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- An intellectual disability such as Down syndrome
- A neurodegenerative condition such as dementia
- A mental health disorder like major depression
- If the claimant regains mental capacity, the standard three-year time limit to start a claim will apply from that point.
- If a loved one is the unfortunate victim of a fatal train accident, you can begin a compensation claim within three years after their death.
- If you had a train accident abroad, you should still be entitled to compensation. The time limit to start a train passenger claim varies depending on which country you were in, so it is wise to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
Regardless of your circumstances, the sooner you contact a solicitor, the easier it is to collect evidence and build a strong train accident claim. Also, if your case is straightforward, they could seek interim payments from the defendant to cover the cost of medical treatment and other financial expenses.
How much will it cost to make a claim?
If you have a valid train accident claim, you can pursue compensation without taking any financial risks. Your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement, which means that:
- You do not have to pay any upfront solicitor fees;
- You will receive free support and advice throughout the claims process;
- Your solicitor will help gather evidence and handle all the legal aspects of your claim so you can focus on recovery:
- They will know exactly how much train injury compensation you should receive and will ensure you are fully compensated for your pain and suffering;
- If your claim fails, you do not have to pay your solicitor a single penny;
- If your case is successful, your solicitor will get a success fee from your compensation award.
The success fee covers the risk your solicitor took by offering you a no win no fee agreement, which means they would be unable to recoup their costs if your case fails. The success fee is capped at a maximum of 25% of your settlement and will be discussed and agreed to from the beginning.
As part of your no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy in your name. The ATE covers all the legal expenses and disbursements incurred by your solicitor if you lose the train injury claim, including:
- Court and counsel fees
- The other side’s solicitor fees
- Costs of printing and copying
- Travel expenses
- Expert witness fees
- Barrister fees
The cost of the ATE insurance depends on the circumstances of your claim, and you only have to cover it after you receive compensation for your injuries. If your case is unsuccessful, you do not have to pay the ATE premium.
If you want to find out if you have a valid train accident claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser. They will let you know whether you are eligible for a no win no fee service and answer any questions you may have.