Accidents arising from rail travel
Accidents arising from rail travel

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Accidents arising from rail travel
  • Rail accidents occurring in the UK
  • Rail accidents occurring abroad
  • The law
  • Jurisdiction
  • Applicable law
  • Liability
  • Damages
  • Limitation
  • Rail accidents in Europe

Brexit: The UK's departure from the EU on exit day, ie 31 January 2020, has implications for practitioners considering applicable law and rail accidents in Europe. For guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—considerations for personal injury claims.

Rail accidents occurring in the UK

An undertaker who is operating a railway under statutory authority ('railway undertaker') has a common law duty of care to their passengers under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957. This duty requires the railway undertaker, the occupier, to see that a visitor is reasonably safe using the premises for the purpose for which they were invited/permitted by the occupier to be there. See Practice Note: Occupiers' liability claims—lawful visitors.

In 1972, the House of Lords held a railway undertaker liable for a child who was electrocuted while trespassing on a railway line and this decision paved the way for The Occupiers' Liability Act 1984.

Under the 1984 Act, an occupier of premises (which would include a railway undertaker) owes a duty to another (not being its visitor) in respect of any danger due to the state of the premises, or due to things done or omitted to be done on them, if:

  1. it is aware of the danger or has reasonable grounds to believe that it exists

  2. it knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the other is in the vicinity of the danger concerned, or

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