Railroad accidents at crossings are common occurrences in the United States. They are frequently deadly. The size, speed, and weight of a freight train striking a passenger car have the same effect on your car as a human crushing an aluminum can. Likewise, the human body is no match for the force a train applies to it. A person is 20 times more likely to die in a collision with a train than in an accident with another passenger car. Even if a person is fortunate enough to survive such a crash, they could be left with debilitating or permanent injuries that could alter the victim’s lives and their family’s lives.
Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm, has earned the reputation as tireless advocates for people who were injured through no fault of their own. Parker Waichman’s railroad negligence attorneys understand the devastation and loss you have suffered. They will fight to achieve justice on your behalf and work vigilantly to hold those responsible for your loss accountable.
Statistics Show That Railroad Crossings Present Grave Danger
Driving over a railroad crossing should be a harrowing venture. As an operator of a motor vehicle, you should be aware of the possibility of trains coming down the tracks. You should also be wary of the possibility that warning signs and signals do not work because, by the time you hear the train coming, it might be too late.
Railroad tracks crisscross our great nation and are an integral part of our transportation grid. It is easy to become complacent when driving over railroad tracks because we encounter them so often.With the nation, regional, and state railroad lines all running simultaneously, there are many chances to encounter trains while driving. Naturally, the more we meet trains while driving, the more opportunity The most recent statistics maintained by the Federal Railroad Association bear that out.
In 2016, there were 1,641 accidents on America’s railroads. Accidents, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are defined as collisions, derailments, and “other” accidents. This category of incidents generally involves incidents on the rail lines themselves between other railroad cars or in the rail yard. There were 81 collisions resulting in eight fatalities. Most of these accidents were the result of human error but may also be attributed to equipment failure, track failures, and signal problems.
The FRA recognizes another category of an accident that is much more deadly. The FRA describes those accidents as “Highway-rail” accidents. The FRA describes a highway-rail accident as any incident that involves a highway user and a rail car at a crossing. The FRA does not take into account the severity of the accident into its definition. The FRA’s definition also includes all crashes at sidewalks, roads, and highways regardless of whether the crash happened on public or private property.
In the United States, there are over 211,000 rail crossings, the majority of which are public crossings. In 2016, 2,041 highway-rail incidents killed 264 and injured another 839 people. Well over 200 individuals were killed in rail crossing accidents in 2016. Trespassers on the lines accounted for another 484 people killed and 485 injured. Accordingly, over 95% of all fatal accidents involve crossings and trespassers but represent only 18.27% of all railroad incidents.
Some states have a much higher incidence rate of train highway-rail crashes than other states. Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana, and Florida round out the top five states in which highway-rail collisions are most likely to occur. New York and New Jersey have fewer highway-rail accidents than several other states, but they rank in and around the middle of the pack. As of August of 2017, the preliminary statistics show that New York has had seven train crashes and New Jersey has experienced six train highway-rail crashes out of 1,378 highway-rail incidents in the U.S.
FRA’s numbers categorize the type of vehicle involved in highway-rail crashes. Passenger cars are most frequently involved in highway-rail collisions by an overwhelming margin. Tractor-trailers and pickup trucks are second and third, respectively, but there are twice as many automobile accidents at railroad crossings than tractor-trailer and pickup truck combined.
The FRA also maintains statistics relating to the specific railroad companies that have been involved in various incidents. Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF Railway Co., Amtrak, and Kansas City Southern round out the top five rail companies that have the most significant number of highway-rail accidents.
The lesson to be learned from this analysis is that railroad crossings and rail yards are dangerous places. Railroad companies know or should know that danger lurks on and around their tracks and therefore, must take reasonable steps to warn and protect the public from those dangers.
2016 Case Study: Rail Employee Negligently Caused Serious Crash at Rail Crossing
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the federal agency, who, in cooperation with other federal and local investigative bodies, investigates rail accidents. In 2016, the NTSB had occasion to investigate a crash between an Amtrak train and a passenger car at a crossing in Florida.The man driving the passenger car—a sedan—sufferedserious, life-threatening injuries. However, the train merely suffered about $16,000 worth of damage.
An analysis of the facts, as found by NTSB investigators, shows how vulnerable people can be when crossing train tracks. The Amtrak train was traveling around 52 miles per hour when the conductor noticed cars ahead at a railroad crossing. The road ran perpendicular to the tracks and had four lanes. Signals were located at the intersection of the highway and tracks. The train’s conductor notes that an employee of the company contracted to maintain the signals was in the signal bungalow immensely before the crash.
As the train approached the intersection, the conductor received an “all clear” signal from the dispatcher. The train approached the intersection at 52 miles per hour. The conductor noticed that the signals at the intersection were not operating and cars were crossing over the tracks. None of the gates were down. The conductor sounded the train’s horn and applied the braking systems and then the emergency braking systems when a car crossed over the tracks in front of the train. The train struck the vehicle and pushed it 100 feet down the tracks. The car was crushed.
The subsequent investigation conducted by the NTSB revealed that the worker testing the signals in the signal bungalow failed to provide adequate notice and take alternate safety measures to prevent the crash from happening. The employee disabled the warning system that controls the gates to test the system but did nothing to prevent a crash. Additionally, the NTSB found that the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the railway company in control over the tracks on which the accident occurred was also at fault. The employee called the train company to inform them about his intention to shut down the warning signals to perform tests. Notwithstanding, the NTSB found that the train authority did not have proper procedures in place to ensure the safety of the public.
Turn to Parker Waichman LLP for Zealous Representation For Injuries Caused By Railroad Negligence
The train accident lawyers with Parker Waichman LLP have worked hard to earn the reputation as lawyers who are dedicated to helping their clients find justice for their losses. Call Parker Waichman’s railroad accident lawyers today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-768-7529) or fill out our online contact form to schedule a no obligation and free case review.
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