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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. 

 

 

Deadly Railroad Crossing Was Slated for Safety Improvements

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.

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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.

Our View

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. 

 

 

Union Pacific Railroad Sued for Man’s Injuries at Crossing

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.

 

crossing

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.

Our View

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.

FRA Releases List of Deadly Railroad Crossings

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.

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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.

 

 

FRA Announces $25 Million Funding for Rail Safety Improvements

The Federal Railroad Administration has started to take applications from local governments, states and railroads for $25 million in grants to fund their railroad safety efforts.

Applicants can ask for funds for safety upgrades to railroad crossings, tracks, tunnels, yards, bridges, etc. The grants have been made available under the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

According to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, as the population of the US grows, rail is playing a bigger role in moving people and freight around the US. “To do that safely, we must invest in our rail infrastructure,” he said last week.

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FRA stated that it would accept railroad safety funding applications until June 14.

Our railroad accident attorneys are pleased that FRA is making these funds available to upgrade railroad safety in America. Our railroad accident lawyers have represented many clients who have suffered serious injuries, or their loved ones have even died, in various types of railroad accidents.

Whenever we see the federal government improving railroad crossings it certainly is a positive, especially for railroad crossing safety. However, when a railroad that owns the tracks that run over those highway crossings is sued because of injury or death, that’s the moment that the railroad claims that they have very little or no responsibility whatsoever. What most consumers may find surprising is that the railroads often receive money from state or federal government for lights or gates at crossings and do everything they can to avoid paying for them.
Even in the face of prior injuries or deaths at the crossing, the railroads who operate on the tracks argue that it should not be their responsibility to pay for gates or lights because the public has built a highway across their Railroad right-of-way. Their position, often overlooked by the public, is that it is local, state or federal government that should improve the safety of motorists traveling across the railroad crossing.
This type of multiple party responsibility is exactly what makes civil injury or death litigation at railroad crossings complex. Indeed, most states have variable or different jury instructions in these types of cases that dictate the railroad’s responsibility at a railroad crossing collision.

Many people do not know that the railroad company that uses that crossing is responsible for maintaining the safety of the crossing. The safety gates must work and flashing lights must be operational, and all vegetation and grass needs to be regularly cut away from the tracks to not obscure driver vision.

A good railroad accident attorney with experience in the state in which the accident occurred can be invaluable in recovering damages in a lawsuit. For example, our railroad accident lawyers bring in retired railroad workers to investigate railroad crossing accidents. Using their expert testimony, we have been able to prove in some cases that appropriate precautions were not taken at some railroad crossings.

Injured Train Engineer Warns About Railroad Crossing Dangers

In 2011, train engineer Darrell May was operating his train according to the rules in Texas and as he rounded a curve at 50 MPH, he saw a stalled tractor trailer on the tracks in front of him. He pulled the emergency brakes immediately, and he and his colleague threw themselves on the floor of the cab.

The collision with the tractor trailer at the railroad crossing was so severe that May was knocked out and he awoke days later in a hospital bed.

crossing

Since that day, the former train engineer’s life has been changed forever. He had head trauma that caused a brain bleed, which makes his right arm tremor constantly. He also suffered nerve damage in his mouth so that eating anything cold causes severe tooth pain. The railroad crossing crash also blew out his back and his lower back has been fused with two rods, four screws and six pins. The back injury also caused nerve damage so that his left foot constantly tingles as if it is asleep.

May recently warned Texas drivers at a press conference to never attempt to beat the train at a railroad crossing or to stop over the tracks under any conditions. He also noted that from the driver’s perspective at a railroad crossing, it is difficult to judge distance, so the train could be a lot closer than you think. It also is hard to tell how fast the train is traveling when looking at it straight on from the tracks.

May also recommended that every railroad crossing post should have a national 800 number and a six digit code. If a driver sees a vehicle stalled on the tracks, they should be able to call that number to alert train operators of the problem.

Our railroad accident lawyers in Virginia have represented far too many people who have been injured at railroad crossings. In some cases, the railroad or the train operator is at fault, but in the case above, the tractor trailer operator was at fault and his actions led to devastating injuries for the innocent victim.

We once handled a case where a railroad worker was injured at a crossing caused by a negligent truck driver, which resulted in a $650,000 verdict. We wish that truck drivers would ensure that such tragic accidents never occur. Even if the truck stalls on the tracks, it is possible that simply properly maintaining the rig could prevent such dangers.

How Google Maps Makes Railroad Crossings Safer

The maps app on your smartphone soon could be able to tell you about the location of an upcoming railroad crossing. Audio and visual alerts will soon be coming to many smartphones because of a new partnership between Google and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Finding innovative ways to reduce the death rate at 225,000 railroad crossings in the US is a major priority of the new FRA administrator, Sarah Feinberg.

Railroad safety has improved overall in the US, but fatalities and railroad crossing accidents increased in 2014, which was the year before Feinberg took the helm. There were 267 deaths in 2014, up from 232 in 2013.

crossing

FRA has not determined what caused deaths to increase so dramatically that year. They think it could be that there were just more drivers on the roads and more trains on the tracks.

But some experts think that technology is not doing a good enough job to prevent railroad crossing deaths, and they hope that the new Google/FRA partnership will help.

FRA currently requires each state to do monthly inspections of 5000 railroad crossings that have the crossing interconnected with a traffic signal. When it is working right, the signals can usually prevent cars and trains from being on the tracks at the same time. But if the signals are not working right, bad things can happen.

As this new partnership gets under way, the FRA hopes that drivers getting alerts from their smartphone about an upcoming railroad crossing can save lives.

Our railroad accident lawyers in Virginia and North Carolina are pleased that the US government is working with Google to leverage technology to prevent needless railroad crossing deaths. Our railroad crossing accident lawyers have represented far too many families of the injured and killed in these mostly preventable tragedies, such as this railroad crossing accident in Prince William County VA that led to a sizable settlement.

 

 

FRA Launches New Railroad Crossing and Trespassing Website

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday launched a redesigned website that has been billed to help drivers, pedestrians and law enforcement to be safer around the more than 200,000 railroad crossings and 140,000 miles of track in the US.

The new portal for railroad crossings is part of FRA’s campaign to cut down on fatalities at railroad crossings and railroad tracks to zero per year. According to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, railroad crossings are in almost every town and city in the United States, and it is very important to prevent fatalities at crossings and on railroad tracks.

FRA data indicates that 96% of all rail-related deaths are preventable and occur either at railroad crossings or by trespassers walking on tracks.

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Last year, FRA, also launched a campaign to cut down on railroad crossing fatalities by working with tech companies such as Google to use the latest FRA data that details where each of the 200,000 railroad crossings are on digital maps. In 2015, 244 people killed at railroad crossings, which was a dip from 264 the year before.

The new FRA portal has many interactive features that includes downloadable fact sheets on safety. Also, there is an easy-to-navigate resource library, making accessing information about railroad crossing safety and trespassing much more streamlined and educational.

We are very pleased as experienced railroad crossing accident attorneys in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina to see that the FRA is stepping up to the plate here. It is really important to use modern technology to cut down on railroad-related deaths. We have represented far too many devastated families whose loved ones were injured or killed at railroad crossings.

By carefully analyzing the scene of a railroad crossing accident, sizable settlements are possible; after all, it is the obligation of the railroad to ensure that railroad crossings are safely maintained and marked. But it would of course be far better if none of these railroad-related accidents ever occurred.

Iron County, Missouri Officials Urge Upgrades of Dangers RR Crossings

Dangerous railroad crossings are all too common in Iron County, Missouri, according to officials here. In December 2015, an Amtrak train slammed into a truck at a railroad crossing in Middlebrook MO and killed a local man.

In that case, it appeared that the man may not have seen the oncoming train and he drove over the tracks into its path. That particular crossing has only a yield and railroad sign but no warning devices.

crossing

Officials say that that fixing that particular crossing in Iron County is one of their top priorities. They say that they intend to install more flashing lights and gates at some of the more dangerous crossings in the county. They also intend to add lights and gates at another crossing in Annapolis MO that is especially hazardous for tractor trailers. Trucks tend to get stuck on those tracks and that could lead to another deadly incident.

Our Virginia railroad crossing accident attorneys have seen far too many injuries and deaths in the past few years in these cases. In our experience, there is a tendency for the local police to just take the word of the railroad company’s investigator and blame the car or truck driver for the collision. However, there are many cases in our experience as railroad accident lawyers in Virginia where the railroad was negligent.

For example, there are often maintenance issues at particular railroad crossings. In particular, we have seen many railroad crossing accidents where there was too much growth of vegetation around the tracks and this obscured the vision of the driver.

It is the responsibility of the railroad to ensure that the railroad crossing is properly maintained, which includes vegetation being cut back that can reduce sight lines. Also, the railroad must ensure that the safety gates and lights are working properly.

In railroad crossing cases where the railroad was negligent, settlements of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are possible. So, it is always worthwhile to speak to an experienced railroad accident lawyer if you have been involved in a railroad crossing accident.