While people may not consider trains to be the main form of transportation anymore, they are used regularly to move materials, supplies, and large products. There are still hundreds of thousands of operational railroad crossings in the United States. Because vehicles pass over active railroad crossings every single day, there is a chance of collisions that can often result in severe injury or even fatality.
The Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis releases yearly updates on the number of train accidents and collisions. These statistics for the year of 2013 include the following:
- 10,194 total railroad related incidents
- 700 fatal railroad related incidents
- 14 train accidents resulted in the release of some type of hazardous chemicals
- 57 train accidents involved passenger train cars
- 1,870 total railroad/highway incidents
- 228 total fatalities from railroad/highway train accidents
- 854 total injuries from railroad/highway train accidents
- 208 incidents of fatal train accidents with pedestrians
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a driver of a passenger car is 20 times more likely to die when in a collision with a train compared to a collision with another passenger vehicle.
Of course, many people would point to “driver error” when it comes to collisions between passenger cars and trains. However, many of the accidents trace back to negligence on the part of the railroads themselves. Crossing safety isn’t always a factor when considering where and how to use train tracks. Quite often, railroad crossings:
- Are visually obstructed
- Are deteriorated
- Lack in proper early warning for motor vehicles
Often, people just did not have the proper warning that a railroad crossing was approaching. When trees and scrub bushes are allowed to grow up around the crossings and trains come in from curves, it is nearly impossible for drivers to know that they are in danger.
For a very long time, the law was not in the favor of citizens who were injured or killed by trains. Up until recently, any collision between a train and a passenger vehicle was considered the driver of the vehicle’s fault. It was never considered that the railroads themselves presented inherent danger. For that reason, passenger vehicles usually had little recourse for compensation.
However, much has changed in the past few years and now railroads are being held to a higher standard when it comes to railroad crossing safety. Now, if the railroads are not properly marked or obscured, then it does become the responsibility of the railroads when people are injured or killed. This means if you are injured or a loved one has been injured or killed in a train collision, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the situation and various factors involved.
You should never try to handle train accident cases on your own, and you certainly shouldn’t choose just any lawyer. That’s because laws surrounding these types of accidents can be very confusing and difficult to navigate for anyone other than an experienced attorney who understands highway and railroad laws. Don’t trust your case to anyone but an experienced attorney who is ready to work aggressively toward getting the compensation you deserve.
If you have been in one of these accidents, you could be facing very expensive medical bills as well as extensive damage to your vehicle, loss of work, and much more. If you do feel you have a case, then contact the train accident lawyers at Thompson | Wedeking today. We will be glad to go over a free evaluation of your case so that we can help you determine the best plan of action.