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Fatal Train Accident in Massachusetts Highlights RR Crossing Safety

A 59 year old man was killed on March 12 in Longmeadow, Massachusetts when his work truck was struck at a railroad crossing by an Amtrak plow train. 

PTC could prevent many train derailments and crossing accidents.

The death of the man at the railroad crossing has brought up many worries and complaints from many in the community. Many feel that there should be additional safety features at that railroad crossing, which is in Longmeadow at the crossing on Bernie and Pondside Road.

There is a stop sign at the railroad crossing and a railroad crossing sign. However, residents say the lack of traffic signals or gate arms are a serious danger at the crossing. Most of the other crossings in the area have those safety features.

There have been other ftal crashes at this crossing, and now the Longmeadow town manager is talking about adding those safety measures at the crossing.

He noted that the Department of Public Utilities in Massachusetts has the responsibility and authority to add safety features.

Our View

Safety at railroad crossings has improved substantially over the years. Back in 1981, there were 728 deaths at US railroad crossings. That had fallen to 233 by 2015, despite the substantial growth in the US population.

However, in 2016, the total number of deaths at US railroad crossings climbed to 265. Our railroad accident personal injury attorneys hope that this increase is temporary and is not a trend.

Our railroad accident attorneys have seen in past railroad accident lawsuits that serious personal injuries and deaths can occur at railroad crossings.

It is important to realize that while drivers and pedestrians have responsibility to stop at these crossings, there are many federal regulations in play at railroad crossings, and sometimes one of the stakeholders could be in violation of a law or rule that leads to an unsafe crossing.

Federal regulations, for example, set rules for when a train must blast its horn when approaching a crossing. Federal rules further dictate how trees, shrubs and vegetaation must be cut at a railroad crossing to ensure visibility.

The federal rules for railroad crossings are largely laid out in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and another set of standards is issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA).

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed at a rail road crossing, it is important to understand that railroad crossing accidents are very complex. In the case of personal injury or wrongful death at railroad crossings, we employ retired railroad workers as investigators to get to the bottom of the case.

Many people who are seriously injured or killed at railroad crossings are entitled to substantial financial settlements due to negligence on the part of a stakeholder, such as the railroad or the local authority that maintains the crossing.

Owasso, OK Man Blames Railroad Crossing Crash on Malfunction

A man in Oswasso, Oklahoma is blaming faulty railroad lights and gates for him slamming into a train on Feb. 1, causing himself minor injuries and serious damage to his car.

Witnesses say that they were not surprised that the lights were allegedly not working and gates not functioning. Some say that it is a frequent occurence when trains roar through.

A local business owner in Oswasso next to the train tracks stated that trains come through all the time; other witnesses said that when the police came after the railroad crossing crash, the lights were not functioning at the crossing. 

PTC could prevent many train derailments and crossing accidents.

Several hours after the crash, railroad workers were working at the crossing. Sometimes the lights were on, but not apparently when  they should have been.

The railroad company stated that there was maintenance scheduled on the crossing soon, but it would not say if that was why the lights may have not been working.

Our View

According to Operation Life Saver, a rail safety education website, 244 people died in railroad crossing wrecks in 2015, and 967 were injured. However, there has been progress: Railroad crossing deaths have declined by 38% in the period from 2004 to 2013. 

Still, railroad crossing accidents can be very severe because of the sheer size and weight of trains. Our railroad crossing accident attorneys have worked on many railroad crossing cases in the last 10 years.

We once represented a driver in Prince William County, Virginia who was hit by a Norfolk Southern train. He and his two children were fortunately not killed but were seriously injured.

Our train accident law firm brought civil claims on behalf of the man and his two children.

Our attorneys did a substantial investigation of the railroad crossing accident. We found that the train crew had not acted in an unlawful manner and we also looked closely at the vegetation around the railroad crossing.

This was a concern because the man had stated that he did not see the train until seconds before impact.

We examined the common laws of Virginia and we demanded a settlement from the insurance policy of the driver and also demanded settlement from Norfolk Southern. 

There was a satisfactory result for this train accident case that we handled.

In the above case in Oklahoma, it should be investigated why there are reports that the crossing gates and lights were  not functioning when the crash occurred. Also, the fact that the railroad company had scheduled maintenance at the crossing could be a critical factor.

58 Year Old Woman Seriously Hurt in RR Crossing Crash

A 58 year old woman was seriously injured on Dec. 9 at 8 am when her Pontiac SUV was struck by a commuter train heading towards Boston, Massachusetts. The serious railroad crossing crash happened in Belmont, MA. 

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The Massachusetts State Police stated that there were three children in the SUV as well. The six year old was still in the SUV when the train struck it. The woman driver was trying to get the child out when the train smashed into the SUV. She suffered serious head injuries and is in critical condition.

Some witnesses thought that the woman’s vehicle may have gotten trapped between the crossing gates at the railroad crossing, but the police are still investigating.

Our View

Railroad crossing accident happen often in America; there is a car/train accident every 12 minutes, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Our railroad accident personal injury attorneys in Virginia also handle a good number of these accidents, and we agree that there are far too many of them. 

In many of these train/car collisions, the police may be quick to blame the car driver, but these accidents are complicated, and often the railroad and/or engineer is to blame.

In our time working on railroad personal injury lawsuits, we have seen safety gates fail and train engineers either falling asleep or being distracted, leading to a serious train accident at a railroad crossing.

Sometimes there is brush, weeds and trees that have grown up along the tracks and this obscures the driver’s vision.

The family of the seriously injured woman should know that this railroad crossing accident should be looked at very closely by an experienced personal injury attorney. The goal is to determine if the engineer or railroad was at fault in the tragedy. Head injuries are extremely serious, and even if the woman driver recovers, she could need hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover medical expenses.

 

 

Woman Severely Injured in Railroad Crossing Accident

A woman in Greenbrier, Tennessee was airlifted to a local hospital on November 2 when her car was hit by a train at a local railroad crossing. 

The accident happened at 5 am on November 2 in Greenbriar at the Wilson St. crossing. According to the local chief of police, the woman was in critical condition with serious railroad crossing accident injuries when she was taken to the hospital.

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Earlier in 2016, all of the railroad crossings in Greenbrier City were assinged a risk analysis score, and two of them were slated for improvements. It is not known if the Wilson St. crossing was scheduled for improvements.

Our View

Railroad crossing accidents usually involve very serious injuries, and often death. Thousands of Americans die at railroad crossings annually across the country. In fact, the Federal Railroad Administration states that cars and trains collide every 12 minutes!

As railroad crossing accident attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina, we have seen railroad crossing accidents that happened for many  reasons. In many cases, the local police department just take the word of the railroad and blame the car driver for any accident at a railroad crossing. However, there are some railroad accidents where the car driver was not at fault.

Common railroad accident causes that we have seen in our personal injury lawsuit cases are:

  • Maintenanace problems: Sometimes a train can have defective brakes or a problem with the controls. Also, there can be vegetation that has grown up around the tracks and this prevents the car driver from seeing the oncoming train. 
  • Sleepy train engineer: Human factors, including drowsy engineers, cause 35% of car train accidents. Some engineers are overworked and they fall asleep on the job.
  • Train engineer is distracted: Some train operators are busy talking or texting on a cell phone, and they are not watching the tracks while the train is in motion.
  • Safety gate problems: Sometimes safety gates malfunction and stay up, even when the train is rolling through the crossing.

If your car is hit by a train at a railroad crossing, never make the assumption that it was your fault. This is often not the case at all. We recently represented a driver whose car was hit by a train in Prince William County, Virginia, and we were able to settle the cases for approximately $130,000. This was significant, because his children were injured in the car-train accident and needed medical care to recover.

 

 

Railroad Crossings Caused 90 Accidents in Alabama in 2015

When a 30 car train hits a car, the vehicles hit each other with the same amount of force as a car smashing an aluminum can. It is that type of force that leads to more than 2000 accidents with many injuries and deaths at railroad crossings around the country each year. Ninety of those were in Alabama in 2015, according to Alabama Operation Lifesaver. 

Alabama has 6000 railroad crossings and 3500 miles of tracks. This means that drivers and pedestrians encounter railroad crossings every day. Operation Lifesaver Alabama travels the state regularly on a 40 city tour to educate citizens about the importance of railroad safety for drivers and pedestrians.

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Operation Lifesaver says that it has helped to cut down car/train accidents across the US from 12,000 in 1972 to 2059 in 2015. Even though the number of accidents has declined, Alabama still ranks #6 in the US for the number of accidents each year.

While Operation Lifesaver says it is very important for drivers and pedestrians to pay attention and to stop at railroad tracks, it also is important for railroads to make sure the safety lights and gates at crossings are working, and that the grass, trees and brush are cut so that drivers can see oncoming trains.

Our View

Railroad crossing accidents can lead to serious injury or death. If you or a loved one was in such a railroad accident, we want you to have as much information as possible. There are many federal and state rules that affect the duties and responsibilities of the railroad company and crew that are using that railroad crossing. Some of the accidents that occur at railroad crossings are due to train engineer or railroad company error. 

One area where a train engineer can cause an accident is speeding through a railroad crossing; federal rules limit how fast trains can go through railroad crossings. Also, federal regulations apply regarding when a  horn or whistle must be blasted at a crossing. Further, trees, shrubs and vegetation at a railroad crossing must be trimmed so that drivers have an unobstructed view.

In short, railroad crossing accidents are very complex legally, and anyone in such an accident should speak to an experienced railroad accident attorney. Large settlements are possible in many railroad crossing accidents. 

Flashing Lights Never Installed At PA at Deadly RR Crossing

A Halifax PA railroad crossing where a woman was killed in a train accident on Labor Day is only marked by faded crossbuck signs. 

The community is asking if there should have been flashing lights and additional warnings installed at the deadly railroad crossing.

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The woman, Trisha Hoffman, 29, died instantly on Sept. 5 when her car was hit near Route 147.

Back in 1978, engineers testified about the proposed railroad crossing and said that the crossing should have flashing lights and other safety measures. Also, in the 1980s, a civil engineer with the railroad company recommended flashing lights at the crossing to counteract a wooded area that blocked the drivers’ view of approaching trains.

However, the PA government rejected the $60,000 flashing lights as too expensive. Instead, the government was supposed to clear the trees and brush 1000 feet north and south of the crossing.

The trees and brush were cleared but they grew back in the 1980s. Now the trees and brush hug the tracks and severely limit driver visibility.

Our View

Our railroad crossing accident attorneys in Virginia see too many railroad crossing accidents that end in death or serious personal injury. One of the most common reasons for deadly railroad crossing accidents is that the crossing is not maintained properly.

It is very important for proper sight lines to be maintained so that drivers can see approaching trains. This PA railroad crossing sounds as if there is far too much brush and trees hugging the tracks and this reduce visibility to the point that the woman could not see the train barreling towards her.

The article does not mention the railroad that uses that track, but it is the railroad’s responsibility in most cases to keep the brush and trees clear of the tracks. The woman’s loved ones should consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in railroad accident wrongful death cases.This woman had a long life in front of her, and her family should receive compensation for their pain and suffering and also for decades of lost wages that she would have earned if she had lived a normal life span.

 

 

 

Kentucky RR Crossing Has Major Safety Issues

Changes have not yet been made to a railroad crossing in Oakland KY that saw a local man lose his life in a train-car accident in early August 2016. And State Rep. Michael Meredith has taken notice.

Meredith stated recently that the crossing makes it too easy for a train to sneak up on the driver. He noted that you have to be almost over the railroad track before you can look down the line to see if a train is coming.

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He added that there have been two fatalities at that railroad crossing in the last five years. He is pushing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to look at this area of the track.

Railroad crossings across Kentucky are reviewed every few years, but only five crossings per year usually receive funding for any upgrades.

Our View

Railroad crossing accidents are not always the fault of the driver. As a railroad crossing accident personal injury lawyer, I know that railroad companies do not always maintain the railroad crossing as carefully as they should. Sometimes, vegetation will grow up around the railroad track and make it difficult for the driver to see an oncoming train.

Our railroad accident attorneys represented a client in Prince William County VA a few years ago. His vehicle was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The children in the back seat had various injuries, including one who had a skull fracture around his eye.

We examined the scene of the accident, noting that the car driver had stated he had no chance to see the train and could not have avoided the accident. We noted the vegetation, trees and brush at the railroad crossing. We demanded a settlement from the father’s insurance company and also from Norfolk Southern. It settled for approximately $125,000. 

 

Ohio Man Dies in Railroad Crossing Accident

A 70 year old man in West Chester Township OH near Cincinnati died on Aug. 24 in a rail road crossing accident. 

The driver was crossing the railroad track when his SUV was struck at high speed by a train.

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There were witness reports that stated that the crossing gates may not have come down in time. West Chester Township police are investigating whether the gates were working properly. Another witness stated that he did not hear the train blow its horn or whistle.

Our View

It is not unusual for safety gates to malfunction; either they stay up entirely or they drop too late. We have even seen gates come down too late and trap a car on the tracks. If the safety gates did indeed malfunction in this train accident tragedy, the family of the deceased should talk to a personal injury attorney.

Our railroad crossing accident lawyers have represented clients who were injured at railroad crossings. In this Virginia case a few years ago, our client’s car was hit by a freight train, which left his two children in the back seat with skull fractures and other injuries. 

Our train accident attorneys from Virginia investigated the accident scene and took careful measurements and photos. We also looked carefully at the trees, brush and vegetation, because the car driver stated that he was not able to see the train until the last moment.

We also looked at VA common law, the jury instructions that would be given at trial and we demanded settlement from the insurance company of the driver and also from Norfolk Southern. The settlement helped the children to recover from their injuries.

 

Indiana Truck Driver Injured At Railroad Crossing

A Pike County, Indiana truck driver suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when his tractor trailer was hit by a train at a railroad crossing near Winslow IN. 

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The truck driver was driving southbound on SR 61 in a truck owned by C&M Giant Tire when a Norfolk Southern train struck the truck at the crossing. The railroad crossing has warning lights and crossbuck signs but no descending gates.

The injured truck driver was able to get out of his truck on his own and he was taken to a local hospital for his injuries.

The sheriff’s department is investigating the accident and no report has been issued at this time.

Our View

Railroad crossing accidents are common across America, and our railroad accident attorneys frequently represent drivers who are injured at railroad crossings. Our Virginia railroad accident attorneys once represented a driver whose care was struck by a Norfolk Southern train in Prince William County, VA. The freight train appeared suddenly and smashed into the rear of his vehicle. His children suffered head injuries and we filed a personal injury lawsuit against the railroad.

Railroad crossing accidents are complex and our strategy was to take careful measurements and pictures of the accident scene. The train crew was not required to blow its whistle at that crossing. We also looked closely at the vegetation and brush at the railroad crossing. This was important because the driver said that the train appeared suddenly and he had no time to get his car clear of the tracks.

We demanded a settlement from the railroad and from State Farm, which led to a good-sized settlement that helped to pay for the medical needs of our client’s children.

A driver who is hurt by a train at a railroad crossing should consult with an attorney experienced in railroad accidents. There can be a number of factors involved that can make the railroad liable for injuries.

 

 

New York State Assembly Passes Legislation to Increase Railroad Safety

An agreement was reached in early July in the New York State Assembly that would improve railroad safety throughout the state. 

The new legislation will establish state coordination of inspections by railroads and local officials of grade crossing warning systems that are connected with traffic lights. The new regulations also will align state law with federal railroad bridge inspection standards and requirements. It also will establish penalties for railroad companies that ignore New York state safety laws and regulations.

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Section 2 of the bill would require all railroad corporations and every municipality or state agency that has jurisdiction where there is an at grade crossing, to conduct at least biennial inspections of all traffic control devices that are interconnected with a highway-rail at-grade crossing warning system.

According to the language of the bill, Section 3 also would impose ‘monetary penalties for violations of laws and regulations against railroad companies that are common carriers, and would increase fines for railroad companies for violations while carrying hazardous materials.’

Our View 

As noted in the language of this bill in New York state, there were more than 250 crossing collision deaths in the US in 2014. Our Virginia railroad crossing accident attorneys often represent the victims of these terrible collisions. Typically, railroad crossing crashes are caused by several things:

  • Train and track maintenance problems
  • Drowsy train operator
  • Distracted train operator
  • Safety gate failure

When we work on a Virginia railroad crossing accident case, we often employ retired railroad workers as investigators. We find that their vast network of connections is very valuable to establish liability in a railroad crossing accident case. In some of those cases, we represented car passengers who were struck and injured by a train. In other cases, we represented crew members who were hurt when a train hit a truck at a rail crossing. In many cases, we were able to win sizable settlements in these railroad crossing accidents.