This week marks the anniversary of two catastrophic events: the 9/11 terrorist attack and the 9/12 Simi Valley railroad accident. While it doesn't continue to garner national attention like 9/11, the latter event was one of the "worst rail disasters in U.S. history," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Three years ago, Metrolink 111 crashed into a freight train, killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 others. This California railroad accident was avoidable, caused by distracted driving: the engineer was texting. According to the court case, a conductor had warned the train company that the engineer had been texting, but the company did not take action.

Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving kill more than 5,000 people and injure many more every year. Whether the person texting while driving is a train engineer or a car driver, he or she puts everyone else at risk of catastrophic injury. A study by the University of Utah found that just talking on a cell phone can significantly delay a driver's reaction time, causing him or her to be as much of a menace as a drunk driver.

California has a ban on handheld cell phone use, including texting while driving. However, the law does not always deter people from texting while driving, since the penalties are mild.

Damages After a Texting While Driving Accident

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a train accident or automobile accident involving texting while driving, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, funeral bills, pain and suffering, loss of income and more.

Unfortunately, personal injury lawsuits never fully compensate victims for the injuries they suffer because of others' bad choices. And in the case of the railroad accident victims, there wasn't enough money to go around. The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 capped the amount of liability damages plaintiffs could receive in a single railroad accident at $200 million. This money could not cover all of the victims' physical and emotional damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Solemn Gathering Marks Anniverary of Metrolink Crash, Steve Chawkins, Sept. 13, 2011