A train kills someone every one hundred minutes in America. There are more than 300,000 public rail grade crossings in the United States:
- More than 80% do not have lights and gates
- One third have no active warning device of any kind
- For many of these crossings, warning time is often minimal to nonexistent and pedestrians and motorists are made unknowingly susceptible to the liability of an approaching train
- Occupants of a motor vehicle that collides with a train are 40 times more likely to die, than if they had collided with another motor vehicle
- More than half of all railroad mishaps occur at these unprotected crossings
With all this information it is hard to consider any damage sustained by unsafe railroad crossings as simple accidents. For those lucky enough to survive, the injuries sustained are typically life threatening, requiring extensive surgical intervention, many necessitating amputation. The injuries resulting from a child playing on or around railroad tracks or a motor vehicle's collision with a train only emphasizes the need for limited access to railway areas and increased warning devices.
Trains cannot stop in time to prevent a collision from occurring. While an automobile traveling 50 miles per hour requires approximately 50 feet to come to a stop, it takes a train over a mile and a half, more than 150 times longer, to stop traveling from the same rate of speed. While grade crossing warning signals have become more high tech and rail traffic has steadily increased, the railroads responsible for maintenance have continuously reduced their workforce, leaving the public at increased risk.
We have experience and familiarity with railroad crossing litigation. Potential liability for negligence that causes serious injury may be established against the railroad if it can be proven that vegetation was allowed to grow too high in the right of way, blocking the view of both the engineer and the driver of the vehicle. Sometimes, train engineers do not blow the required whistle sequence. The train's black box may be retrieved which will show use of the whistle and speed of the train prior to impact. Communications between the train crew and dispatchers are recorded. These recordings, through contentious discovery, can be key in establishing liability against the railroad.
If you or a loved one has had an injury involving railroad crossings or a train collision, or if you have questions or need additional information, call us.