In spite of being one of the 19th century’s major technological achievements, railroad travel quickly dropped in popularity when railroad accidents resulted in serious injuries, such as railroad spine, some of which were fatal.
A fairly frequent occurrence, injuries caused by railroad collisions were exacerbated by the fact that flimsy wooden railway cars offered little to no protection to occupants.
In 1866, public alarm concerning railroad travel intensified after John Eric Erichsen, a noted British surgeon, described a somewhat peculiar, spinal concussion-like progressive spinal disorder that was a frequent consequence of railway accidents.
Railroad spine soon became the diagnosis for the varying post traumatic symptoms of passengers injured in railroad accidents.
While other British, Austrian, French and German scholars hotly debated the nature of railroad spine symptoms, Erichsen conducted and published a full length study in his classic work On Railway and Other Injuries of the Nervous System, which is why this condition is also often referred to as Erichsen’s Disease.
During his observations, Erichsen noted that individuals sitting in railway cars with their back to the acceleration were most likely to suffer injuries during railway crashes, an injury mechanism that is also found in whiplash injuries.
More protection, fewer accidents
Thankfully, railway accidents are now far less frequent, and health and safety requirements mean passengers enjoy much better protection against personal injuries in case something does go wrong. Today, it is actually far more likely to be injured in a road traffic accident than suffering an injury while travelling by rail.
Past and present claims
Many claims made for injuries in train crashes were rejected as fake by 19th-century railroads, as there was no obvious evidence to prove that a person was suffering from railroad spine.
Fortunately, car accidents, airplane and railway accidents are now known as possible causes, not only of physical trauma, but also of post traumatic stress disorder and varying other psychosomatic symptoms.
If you were injured as a passenger in a traffic, rail or plane crash, you may qualify for passenger or travel injury compensation.
At Accident Advice Helpline, we boast over 15 years’ experience in handling claims like yours. Our law firm operates on a 100 per cent no-win no-fee* basis, so you will not even have to worry about funding a claim until the claim is settled.
You can get more information and helpful advice about claiming for compensation by calling one of our advisers via Accident Advice Helpline’s freephone number on 0800 689 0500.
Date Published: March 2, 2015
Author: Accident Advice