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Category Archives: Railroad Crossing Accidents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
A pastor from Gaston County, North Carolina is dead after the waste management truck he was driving was hit by a Piedmont and Northern Railroad train near Lowell NC last Monday.
According to the local police department. the driver of the truck was Thomas Collins, who was the pastor of New Canaan Baptist Church. He also drove part time for the local waste management company.
The truck caught fire after it was hit by the Piedmont and Northern Railroad freight train.
The state police continue to investigate the crash. According to Sgt. Brian Holland from the local police department, there is no railroad crossing signal or stop arm at that crossing, ‘but I wish there was.’
Railroad crossing accidents happen every day in America, and thousand are killed every year in these accidents.
Our experience as railroad accident attorneys tells us that there are several causes of railroad crossing accidents:
- Maintenance problems: We have seen cases where there was too much vegetation around the railroad tracks, which obscured the driver’s vision of the oncoming train.
- Train operator error: Human factors contribute to more than 1/3 of car-train accidents.
In every railroad crossing collision between a car or truck and a railroad’s train or engine, an experienced railroad crossing lawyer will learn whether the locomotive engineer operated the train horn in a timely fashion, if the engineer was obligated to blow the train horn/whistle, what the railroad’s operating rules required when approaching the crossing and what the witnesses actually heard in this regard. Secondly, maximum train speed is regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration, and the engine event recorder (black box) data must be reviewed to verify braking, speed, horn, throttle position and so forth.
In some cases, the train operator falls asleep or is otherwise distracted. This means that they lose precious time to apply the brakes if something is on the tracks ahead. Also, railroads typically push railroad engineers hard and they often work long hours, with little warning when they need to report for duty.
- Safety gate failure: Sometimes safety gates and sensors fail.
Our railroad accident lawyers are adept at reviewing locomotive cameras, black box data recorders and signalization data so we are able to determine what factors led to the railroad crossing accident. In cases where the railroad is found negligent, large settlements can result.
A deadly railroad crossing in southern Colorado where five family members died when an Amtrak train slammed into their SUV, had been slated for several safety improvements for years.
The rural railroad crossing near Trinidad CO, near the New Mexico border, was identified for several safety improvements since 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
According to the department, the safety overhaul for that crossing was to include flashers, gates, bells and a constant warning system at the crossing, which current only has signs.
The only person who survived in the family was a four year old girl. She still is in the hospital with serious injuries.
There have been six other accidents at the same crossing since 1986. One of them was fatal in 2010.
People who live near the crossing say that the driver’s view is completely obstructed by trees and overgrown brush. One noted that a driver ‘cannot see anything’ at that crossing, so it is very important to stop and look very carefully before proceeding.
We send our condolences to the family of those who were killed in this tragic railroad crossing accident. Serious personal injuries at railroad crossings are all too common across the US. If you or a loved one is injured at a crossing, it is important to have as much information as possible.
Many people do not know of all the regulations that are in effect at railroad crossings. There is a maximum speed set for a train at a specific crossing, and regulations also dictate when a horn or whistle must be sounded. Also, regarding shrubbery and vegetation, there are strict rules about maintaining them so that sight lines are clear for drivers.
The railroad that owns the tracks is responsible for maintaining the safety of the railroad crossings it uses, generally speaking. When a railroad crossing is not properly maintained and an accident occurs, it is possible that the railroad could be held liable in civil court, and the victims could receive a large settlement.
A man from Beaumont TX is suing Union Pacific Railroad for his injuries after a February 2013 crash that happened on a Beaumont railroad crossing on Highway 90. The man was driving a big rig hauling a crane when the trailer got stuck at the crossing. He hopped out of his truck to look at the damage, and then a train slammed into his rig. The lawsuit alleges that he suffered mental and physical injuries.
The man’s attorneys stated that the trucker did not have a clear view of the stretch of tracks when he got out of his rig. The lawsuit further alleges that the train operators did not blow the horn when they approached the crossing, and they were not paying attention to the tracks when the crash happened.
We often represent injured clients who were hit by trains at railroad crossings. By using retired railroad workers as investigators, we are able to investigate the circumstances of the crossing and also we can pick up the phone and speak to other experts on railroad crossings. For example, we have represented people who were hit at railroad crossings and we were able to show that appropriate warnings were not followed at the crossing. In some cases, the vegetation was not properly cut around the tracks, which meant that drivers did not have a clear view of oncoming trains. In other cases, the train operators failed to blow their whistle, leading to a collision.
The widow of a Steele MO man who died in a rail road crossing crash in 2012 won $20 million last month in a wrongful death lawsuit verdict.
After just two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict favoring the plaintiff against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The deceased was a successful and well-known businessman who owned several lumber mills.
The late businessman died in a crash with a BNSF train on Oct. 20, 2012. The crash occurred when Spence drove his Chevrolet Silverado over railroad tracks on Stoddard County Road 470 in Steele. The only signal at this crossing was a railroad crossing sign without lights and gates.
BNSF stated in reaction to the verdict that there was no negligence by BNSF, and it claimed that the evidence showed that the man did not stop at the railroad tracks.
However, the man’s family stated in response that BNSF needs to improve all of its railroad crossings by cutting down vegetation that obscures sight lines for drivers. They also urged that the railroad install lights and gates at all public crossings.
The plaintiffs also argued that the crossing was defective due to inadequate sight distances and no lights and gates.
It is common for many people to not realize that the railroad is responsible for maintaining the safety of public railroad crossings. One of the sources that apply to the proper maintenance of shrubs and vegetation at railroad crossings is the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. this publication has details about the sight lines that should be available for drivers coming to a railroad crossing. It is common for overgrown vegetation at crossings to prevent the driver from seeing the approaching train. Many railroads will try to argue, as BNSF did, that the driver was at fault for not stopping. Fortunately, the jury did not buy that argument in this incident.
As railroad crossing accident attorneys in Virginia, we have handled many railroad crossing incidents over the years. When we are retained for a railroad crash personal injury case, we often employ retired railroad workers to investigate the incident so that we have the highest chance possible of recovering damages for the client.
Just days after a fatal railroad crossing crash in San Leandro CA, police were well into their investigation of what caused the wreck that killed a woman and her three year old daughter.
Vanessa Henriquez, 30, and her 3-year-old daughter, Saidy, were in an SUV that got trapped between railroad crossing arms and several other cars when it was hit by an Amtrak train traveling nearly 80 MPH.
According to local police, the intersection and railroad crossing is unusual because it allows multiple cars to build up between the railroad crossing arms. They noted that even if the driver can see an oncoming train, there is nowhere to go.
As experienced railroad crossing accident lawyers in Virginia, we know that these wrecks can have devastating consequences for the occupants of the vehicle. These accidents happen too often; the Federal Railroad Administration states that railroad crossing crashes happen every 12 minutes, with 9570 accidents occurring in 2009.
There are many reasons that railroad crossing accidents happen, and not all of them are due to driver error. One of the common problems is that the railroad fails to properly maintain the railroad crossing, which leads to vegetation obscuring sight lights.
In other cases, the safety gates may fail, and sometimes a car can get stuck on the tracks. We do not have enough information on the above tragedy to know if that occurred here. If we worked on that case, we would review data from the locomotive cameras, black box data event recorders and signal information to determine if there was any failure on the part of the railroad company.
From what the police stated, it sounds as if the entire design of that intersection could be hazardous, and that fact would also be closely scrutinized by our attorneys if we represented the grieving family.
A deadly railroad crossing accident in Gilroy CA last year involving a Union Pacific maintenance vehicle has raised serious safety questions about these type of vehicles traveling through crossings and whether they always trigger crossing gates and lights.
The man who died, Don Williams, 55, was driving through the railroad crossing in Gilroy at Masten Avenue when his truck was blindsided by a maintenance of way vehicle that weighed 50 tons. According to the state highway patrol crash inquiry, the UP vehicle did not activate the grade crossing gates or signal lights.
Investigations by the California Highway Patrol and the Federal Railroad Administration determined that the UP driver had operated the rig negligently and violated several UP company safety policies. A warrant is out for his arrest.
Beyond the tragic death of Williams, this accident highlights what some railroad safety experts say is a major flaw in the way in which maintenance of way vehicles and other rail vehicles operate on the nation’s railroads. That is, they do not always activate bells and gates at railroad crossings.
The railroad crossing in question does have bells and lights but it was not functioning when he crossed the tracks because the rig did not ‘shunt’ the track. The wheels of the vehicle did not make electrical contact, so when the driver came to the crossing, there was no warning for drivers.
The FRA states that this is a common problem. The agency released a new safety recommendation last week in light of William’s death. FRA advised all railroads to review their procedures for how maintenance of way vehicles go through crossings.
The new FRA recommendations note that the crossing activation system is unreliable and all maintenance of way vehicles must approach railroad crossings slowly. However, these are only recommendations and there are no current federal regulations for how these vehicles go through railroad crossings.
Also, the technology that is still used to detect trains today was first designed in 1872, and continues to be used across the country.
Our railroad accident attorneys in Virginia are greatly concerned that some maintenance of way vehicles do not properly trigger crossing gates and lights at railroad crossings. It also is alarming that a train engineer in this case apparently neglected his duties and proceeded through a railroad crossing with blatant disregard for safety.
There are cases where a railroad and its employees disregard public safety and should be sued in civil court for damages. This provides a warning to other companies and individuals to always put public safety first. An experienced railroad injury attorney can often win a large financial settlement in cases where the railroad obviously acted in a negligent fashion.
The Federal Railroad Administration just released its list for the worst and most dangerous railroad crossings in the US, and a notorious railroad crossing in Alabama made that list. However, state officials in Alabama claim that the problem has been fixed.
The majority of the problem railroad crossings are in heavily populated areas such as Phoenix, Baton Rouge, Memphis and Cleveland.
However, the crossing in Evergreen AL on I-65 with a population of 4,000 people also made the list. FRA states that the crossing has had 13 accidents in the last decade, and five fatalities; that is the highest number of deaths for any single crossing on the list.
Local witnesses who live near the Evergreen crossing have described the train crashes they have seen. They noted in some cases, cars that were waiting in the intersection were caught on the railroad tracks. The mayor for the town stated last year that he had ‘raised hell’ since 2010 to get safety gates on the crossing. They finally were added in 2013, and that seems to have fixed the dangerous problem.
Our railroad accident lawyers in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina have seen many railroad crossing accidents over the years.
We had a railroad crossing case in Prince William County VA where our client was hit by a freight train. The impact caused the car to spin off the road but fortunately, neither the man or his children were killed. Both children suffered facial and head injuries.
Our investigation determined that the train crew had not acted improperly as they were not required to blow their whistle at that rural crossing. However, we also looked at the vegetation and brush around the track and reviewed the police officer’s notes, and we found that the driver could not see the train until the last second.
We demanded a settlement from both the client’s insurance company and Norfolk Southern.