Who is responsible for collisions between road vehicles and trains at railroad crossings?

Although railroads aren’t as commonplace as they once were, collisions between trains and motor vehicles still occur regularly. Since trains are large, heavy, and frequently travel at high speed, accidents often result in serious injury or death. Due to the tremendous weight differential between a car and a train, the force of a 30-car freight train hitting a vehicle is the same as the force of a car crushing an aluminum soda can. When a collision occurs between a car and a train, the vehicle owner is sometimes at fault. However, these accidents can also be caused by conductor negligence, mechanical failure, neglected inspections, or improper maintenance.

Determining Fault

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, the railroad company will be liable if anyone acting on the company’s behalf was responsible for the accident. If employees fail to follow proper protocol, or if some of the railroad’s equipment is defective, the company will be held liable. Even if a driver is guilty of crossing railroad tracks at a time when it was unsafe for him to do so, the railroad company may still be liable if the company failed to take adequate care to prevent an accident.

Railroad companies must:

  • Train employees to obey posted signage, travel at a safe speed, use signals (horns and bells), and watch for obstructions on the track.
  • Ensure that employees are sober, not fatigued, and in compliance with hours of service requirements.
  • Maintain all locomotives, rail cars, and tracks in proper working order.

You Need an Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a train collision, you know the devastation these crashes often cause. There may be a variety of severe injuries, from broken bones, to traumatic brain injury, to paralysis, and even to death. These cases are often complicated, so you need professional representation by an experienced attorney who will fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.

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