Americans rely on the country’s railway system for the delivery of all kinds of products every single day. Many people even still travel by train, both for commuters and as long distance transportation.
Although it happens less often than car or truck accidents, railroad accidents can be catastrophic if one is unfortunate enough to be involved in one. Severe personal injury, often death is suffered by workers, motorists, or people walking too closely to the train tracks.
There are many potential causes for a railroad accident, including:
- Speeding or Distracted Motorists
- Dangerous Railroad Crossing Areas
- Defective Railroad Crossing Lights or Crossing Guards
- Railroad Crew or Railroad Conductor Fatigue or Other Negligence
- Failure to Sound a Warning Horn; Failure to Hear a Warning Horn
There are about 12,000 train accidents or incidents that result in about 800 fatalities each year. Even a “minor” incident with a train can cause serious injury or death because of the size and weight of the locomotive. Train accident lawsuits are always complicated because they usually involve multiple responsible parties, and since train accidents are subject to different laws and regulatory standards considerations than most vehicle accident lawsuits.
A train accident never affects just one person. Even when someone slips off a platform and is run over by a train, the railroad workers and the entire community are affected. A railroad accident can affect an entire community such as in a toxic chemical spill, or when a passenger train derails there are often hundreds of victims along with their friends and families. No matter what the cause, tragedy occurs when someone or many people sustain any injury due to a train accident.
Railroad Accidents Involving Motorists
Most train collisions occur at railway crossings. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, nearly 60% of all railroad crossing fatalities occur at crossings without lights or safety gates. A staggering 70% of railroad fatalities are caused by a train derailment.
Railroad companies have a responsibility to make crossings safe. When a railroad crossing is obstructed, the gates are faulty or inadequate, or warning systems are insufficient or ineffective, the railroad company may be liable. The same liability is held if a train operator has a limited view of a crossing or is unable to clearly see an approaching train. Train conductors should know the law and abide by all safety regulations to keep themselves, passengers, motorists, and pedestrians safe at all times.
The most common train accidents involve collisions with passenger vehicles, buses, pedestrians and other trains. Due to the typical size and speed of trains, railroad collisions can cause death or serious physical injury, along with psychological and emotional trauma. There are many possible situations where a motorist may collide with a train in an accident, but the liability will be difficult to understand and will require a sound basis in evidence to support a successful personal injury claim.
Serious injury can occur to motorists who do not follow all traffic signs when approaching a railroad crossing, which may be difficult if some of the safety features are obscured or weather conditions make it hard to see what’s ahead clearly. It is always best to use additional caution before crossing railroad tracks, even if other motorists are not inclined to do so.
Train derailments typically cause the most widespread damage and are often the result of failing to follow the established safety requirements. A train may also derail in the case of faulty equipment or tracks, obstacles on the tracks, or too much cargo on board.
A train accident lawyer will evaluate the facts of a railroad accident in order to determine any potentially liable parties, including the train conductor, railroad employees, the owner of the train, the mechanic responsible for inspecting the locomotive or a pedestrian near the railroad crossing or on the tracks.
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