Railroad Crossing Accident Attorneys in Louisville
Railroad crossings can potentially be dangerous, causing many severe accidents. It is unlikely that motorists who are rushed, distracted, or complacent on the road are thinking of the possibility of encountering a speeding train. Moreover, the chances of errors and malfunctions by rail companies and railroad crossing significantly increase the chances of railroad collisions.
At John H. Ruby & Associates, we have extensive experience representing individuals in Kentucky who have been injured in a railroad crossing accident. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of personal injury law, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. We work closely with our clients, and we work hard to recover the full and fair compensation that they deserve.
How often do Collisions Occur at Railroad Crossing Accidents?
Recently, there were 2,025 railroad crossings in the US in a single year, resulting in 265 fatalities and 798 injuries. The outcome of a collision involving a speeding train is much more disastrous than a collision between passenger vehicles.
Trains usually move at high speeds and weigh thousands of tons. Upon colliding with another object, they typically do not halt as a vehicle would do. This causes significant damage and injuries to individuals involved in wrecks of this magnitude.
There may be various causes for railroad crossing accidents, such as:
Faulty Warning Signals
A crossing gate that is functioning optimally should have lights that flash, gates that lower, and alarms that go off. If crossing gate signals are not working correctly, it could cause a crash.
Absence of Warning Signals
If a crossing gate does not have the proper signals installed, it is hazardous to public safety.
Line of Vision Obstructions for Vehicles
If a vehicle driver or pedestrian is unable to see an oncoming train due to vision obstructions, it is dangerous and an accident hazard. Such impediments can be permanent as well as temporary. For instance, dense trees and vegetation can obstruct the driver’s view. In addition, if a train is halted too close to a crossing, it can obstruct the view of an approaching train.
Train Failure to Signal
A train must signal upon approaching a crossing to allow others in the vicinity to be aware that a train is coming.
Train Operator Mistakes
Many railroad accidents occur due to train operator error, such as speeding or operating the train when distracted or intoxicated.
Dangerous train derailments at or near a railroad crossing might occur due to defects in the track, leading to disastrous consequences.
Train or Component Defects
The operation of the train and the ability to slow down or stop at railroad crossings might be affected by defects in the train itself, such as faulty brakes, engine, or other components.
Obstructions on the Track
Many times, severe accidents on railroad crossings occur due to objects on the track, such as cars or animals.
Who is Liable for a Railroad Crossing Collision?
It can be complicated to prove liability in railroad crossing accidents. Railroad companies must ensure that all train crossings are safe. However, in the case of an accident, these companies often try to downplay their role in the recklessness that caused the collision and consequent injuries.
There may, in reality, be several parties who are responsible for a railroad crossing accident. The train owners and the company that maintains the rail tracks might be separate entities. In case the accident occurred due to mechanical failure, it is best to evaluate the component designer or manufacturer.
A court may consider the following in deciding whether a specific crossing is hazardous for safety:
- Federal laws would warrant additional warnings
- Visibility or line of sight is compromised at the crossing
- Near the crossing, there are intersections with other roads
- Visual clutter exists at the crossing
- There have been accidents at the crossing previously
Protected versus Passive Crossing
Roadways and train tracks often intersect. There are over 250,000 railroad crossing and roadway in the United States. Almost 96 percent of all accidents happen at these locations. Surprisingly, almost 62,500 of these railroad crossings do not have lights or gates to protect vehicle drivers.
According to data from the National Transportation Safety Board, nearly 60 percent of all railroad accident-related deaths occur at passive or “unprotected crossings”. A passive crossing is one that does not have more than one railroad crossing sign.
On top of this, statistics show that “protected crossings,” or the ones with warning signals such as gates and lights, comprise merely 20 percent of all public railroad crossings in the country.
Who is Responsible for an Accident Involving a Vehicle at a Passive Railroad Crossing
Trains can effectively transport freight and heavy cargo, and therefore, they will always remain in high demand. But when accidents happen, multiple parties may be involved in a lawsuit.
Five main parties may be held responsible:
Vehicle drivers make decisions that can impact their safety, such as attempting to cross the tracks before the train arrives.
The Train Operation Company
The train driver is responsible for safely operating the train. If the company running the train fails to train its employees and ensure that their crew follows the rules and maintain acceptable speed, it could be held liable for a railroad crossing accident.
The Train Manufacturer
The train manufacturer may be held liable if the accident occurred due to the train’s design or mechanical/electrical systems. Common manufacturing faults include warning lights, warning whistles, coupling mechanisms, brake system, among others.
The Railroad Track Owner
Railroad businesses own and operate railroad tracks. Trains can move on tracks owned by a different company, but they are not responsible for maintaining the track. Another company will be responsible for installing gates and lights, removing obstructions, and more.
The City or County
The city or county responsible for road maintenance can be held responsible if the accident occurred due to a dilapidated roadway.
Holding the Wrongful Parties Responsible in a Kentucky Railroad Crossing Accident
If other parties do not uphold their duties, you, as a motorist, may not have been able to avoid a disastrous railroad crossing accident. The circumstances surrounding every accident are unique and warrant an in-depth investigation by a qualified legal team.
The skilled team of railroad crossing accident attorneys at John H. Ruby & Associates will thoroughly evaluate your case and recommend an effective legal course of action. If you or someone you love has been involved in a railroad crossing accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for your losses.
Call (502) 895-2626 today to speak to an experienced railroad crossing accident lawyer today.