Railroads across the country are increasing their capacity and putting larger trains onto the rails, and running them more frequently. The increase in rail traffic also means an increase in the odds that an accident could happen at a railway crossing, especially in light of railroad operators’ putting safety second. Railroad crossing accidents between a vehicle and a train at a grade crossing often result in serious injuries and fatalities.
It’s not unusual to fault the driver of the vehicle for being on the tracks in the first place, but railroad crossing accidents aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem. A railroad crossing accident lawyer can help you and your loved ones find closure after an accident with a train. A railroad accident attorney can uncover the cause of the accident and ensure that the railroad operator is held responsible.
How the Mann Law Firm Can Help After a Railroad Crossing Accident
The collision with a train may not be the fault of the person driving the vehicle. Here’s a scenario where a railroad accident attorney can be of help: Poorly maintained railway crossings can often create conditions that cause a driver to get stuck on the tracks. Crossing gates and warning signals can fail to deploy and give a false sense of safety. This results in a driver’s pulling onto the tracks in good faith, thinking they’re in the clear and there’s no train coming. The driver thinks they’re going to be able to get through the intersection in time, only to get hit by a train that wasn’t too far off in the distance.
The railroad crossing failed to prevent the driver from pulling onto the tracks and also failed to warn the driver of a nearby train. The driver had no opportunity to avoid the collision. In this scenario, the railroad accident lawyer goes to work to prove that the driver wasn’t at fault. Fast action is needed to preserve and collect evidence that shows the railway crossing failed to deploy its warnings and gates, actions a railroad accident lawyer knows how to take. This evidence is used later to pursue a case against the railway operator for negligence.
Common Causes of Railway Crossing Accidents
Railroad crossing gates and light failure is just one of the ways the railroad operator can be at fault for an accident. Federal laws mandate that a railway crossing be in proper working order and be repaired as soon as a defect or failure is discovered. The same goes for railway equipment, train cars, and engines. Train engineers also have to follow safety rules as part of their duties.
Failure to maintain the grade between the roadway and the railway track can cause low-slung vehicles or trailers to get stuck on the tracks with no way to get off. A lack of maintenance of federally mandated safety equipment that leads to a railway crossing accident is also grounds for a lawsuit.
The railroad operator can also be held liable if they have an unprotected rail crossing or fail to provide adequate warning signals and signage. A poorly engineered crossing can also put liability on the railroad operator.
Equipment failure on the train or the tracks can also open up a railroad operator to liability. The railway operator is required to keep equipment of all types in proper working order. If it can be shown that the operator failed to properly maintain their railway equipment, they can be held liable for the resulting accident.
The train engineer can also be held responsible if they fail to observe or otherwise engage in actions to ensure safety. An engineer has to stay within the track speed limit, use their horns or alarm at crossings, or take action to slow down the train when seeing or being otherwise informed of a vehicle on the tracks.
Tips for Avoiding an Accident at a Railroad Crossing
You most likely learned about the safety rules of approaching a railway crossing during your driver’s education days. These rules are designed to protect yourself from calamity, especially when you can’t be sure if the safety equipment on the train, tracks, or crossing is working. You also need to take defensive measures at a railroad crossing, no matter if you’re driving a compact car or a semi.
Sometimes, railroad companies are negligent by failing to provide adequate warning systems. All railroad crossing safety equipment must be properly maintained to ensure the safety of train passengers, drivers and pedestrians. If any of the railroad crossing signs, signals, lights or gates are not functioning adequately, they must be repaired immediately by the railroad company. Additionally, railroad companies may be held liable for improper maintenance, improper installation of federally-approved crossing equipment or improper care of such equipment.
Here are some tips for avoiding/preventing an accident at a railroad crossing.
- Never cross the tracks when the warning signals are flashing and ringing and the gates are down. The same goes for a partially working railroad crossing where one or more of the safeties aren’t working.
- Always expect a train to be nearby.
- Don’t race the train to the crossing. Slow down and let the train pass no matter how inconvenient it is to your travel plans.
- Stop before the tracks if you’re unsure whether there’s room to cross completely.
- Don’t drive onto the tracks if there’s no room to cross on the other side.
- Exit your vehicle immediately if you stall or get stuck on the tracks, even if no train is coming.
Practicing safety at railway crossings eventually becomes second nature. You’ll find yourself making good decisions and avoiding a collision with a train as a result.
How the Mann Law Firm Can Help You After a Railroad Crossing Accident
Contact a railroad crossing accident attorney at the Mann Law Firm after you or a loved one has been involved in a railroad crossing accident. Time is of the essence in order to preserve evidence, investigate the scene, and uncover where the fault for the accident lies. A railroad accident attorney can help you file a claim against the railroad operator and recover losses that are related to the accident.
Call us today at (478) 742-3381 for a free consultation or fill out our online form and have our railroad crossing accident attorney call you back to discuss the details of your case. We’re here to discuss the details of your accident and provide compassionate legal assistance. Our goal is to see justice done and help you recover from the losses you suffered as a result of the accident.
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